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FAPESP Announcement: Inviting Business Sector to Partner for Engineering Research Centers in Advanced Manufacturing

The São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP, constituted by Law no. 5.918, dated October 18, 1960, with headquarters at No. 1,500 Rua Pio XI, Alto da Lapa, São Paulo, SP, registered in the National Registry of Legal Entities (CNPJ) under no. 43.828.151/0001-45, hereinafter referred to as FAPESP, hereby announces its intention to execute scientific and technological cooperation agreements to establish new Engineering Research Centers, as specified below, to be set up among public or private education and research institutions in the state of São Paulo and companies or consortia of companies established in Brazil, in advanced manufacturing as described in item three (3) of this document. Therefore, within the term of up to 90 business days from this date, FAPESP will receive proposals from companies or consortia of companies interested in concluding agreements of this nature.

The company or consortia of companies selected by FAPESP must sign a scientific and technological cooperation agreement with FAPESP, defining the rights and obligations of the parties. Only after execution of this agreement, which sets forth the details of the Engineering Research Center, will the call or calls for proposals be issued to select the partner education and research institutions in the state of São Paulo interested in hosting the center.

2 Engineering Research Centers

Engineering Research Centers are units based at universities and/or research institutions making up the host institutions that have a collaborative research agenda between these public or private education and research institutions in the state of São Paulo and the companies or consortia of companies established in Brazil to engage, for a period of 10 years with periodic assessments throughout implementation, in the development of internationally competitive research that will contribute to the following objectives:

a) Perform world-class cutting-edge basic or application driven research, in both cases seeking to actively explore opportunities for contributing to the development of technological innovations;

b) Transfer knowledge to the companies or consortia of companies, including suppliers and the industry value chain, or establish new companies;

c) Transfer knowledge to society, including NGOs and/or the public sector;

d) Develop highly qualified researchers, especially in critical fields, through interactions with the educational system at the graduate and post-graduate levels;

The underlying premise that drives a project such as the Engineering Researcher Center is the development of internationally competitive research according to the best worldwide research excellence benchmarks. The aforementioned objectives stem from this research activity.

2.1 Multiplicity of missions and long-term funding

Engineering Research Centers are an adaptation of FAPESP’s successful Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDC) Program – a special program involving ambitious high impact academic research, and they have two characteristics that distinguish them from other funding sources:

1. First and foremost, Engineering Research Centers have a multiplicity of missions. Although they have a principal focus, their research objectives are complex, multidisciplinary and cutting-edge, like any other world-class research center, and they also have to develop effective methods for technology transfer, education and the dissemination of knowledge.

2. Secondly, as a result of their characteristics, Engineering Research Centers involve long-term funding and autonomy in the use of resources. This requirement makes it imperative that there be a strong institutional connection between the co-funding partner and appropriate means to ensure close monitoring of the Center’s activities.

With this initiative, Engineering Research Centers seek to overcome one of the greatest current challenges to research that leads to innovations for complex problems: going beyond traditional short- and medium-term time frames that are generally incompatible with the successful handling of complex and challenging issues.

2.2 Composition of the Research Center

The key factor to a Center’s success is the presence of a balanced research and management team that includes principal investigators, associate investigators, visiting researchers, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students and technical support personnel, backed by top quality administrative and management services guaranteed by the host institution, to be selected through a competitive process by FAPESP and the companies proposing the Center.

In addition to its world-class reputation, an Engineering Research Center must be justified by each of the following reasons:

a) The complexity of the problems to be studied may require a multidisciplinary approach;

b) The scale and duration of the research activities to be carried out;

c) The need for ongoing interaction among members of the team in order to achieve the scientific and technological objectives, and transfer and disseminate knowledge.

The Center’s scope, organization and form of operation will be determined on the basis of the research activities, dissemination and transfer of knowledge that will be carried out. In particular, the Center will be operated by a host institution. Its association with other institutions in the state of São Paulo will be deemed an enhancement to the proposal, and in some cases, could be essential in strengthening the proposal.

The requirement of one common scientific/technological focus that coordinates the research activities to be carried out is mandatory. It does not entail an institutional support program and therefore research divisions, departments, units and institutions will not be supported as such. Funding of Center activities will be long-term, limited to 10 years, with assessments and potential consequences of these assessments throughout the period. Funds allocated may be used with a great degree of autonomy; however, FAPESP and the companies will engage in constant monitoring, with periodic assessments of the Center’s activities.

Each Engineering Research Center will be directed by an Executive Committee (ECE) that consists of a director (principal investigator on the proposal submitted to FAPESP), a deputy director (principal investigator named by the proposing companies), an education and dissemination of knowledge coordinator and a technology transfer coordinator. The EC will be supported by managers—professionals to be hired by the host institution to carry out and supervise all management and administrative tasks required to operate the Center.

To ensure the Center’s success and obtain FAPESP funding, the Companies’ commitment to manage the center and engage its R&D personnel in Center activities is as important as the qualifications of the research team from institutions of education and research. In addition to the commitment to name the Center’s deputy directory who will have certain rights as a visiting researcher at the host institution, the R&D team is expected to engage in significant interaction with researchers from the institutions of education and research, so that the Center’s activities are at the core of the strategic decisions made by the proposing Company.

2.3 International Advisory Board

The Engineering Research Center will establish an International Advisory Board (IAB) made up of renowned scientists in the field of the Center’s focus. The IAB will include at least two foreign scientists engaged in cutting-edge research in their areas of expertise. FAPESP expects the IAB to play a primary role in monitoring Center operations and guiding the team with regard to the direction and performance of ongoing projects, new opportunities for research and strategies to increase its international competitiveness. The composition of the IAB can be determined only after selection of the partner education and research institutions.

3 Topics of Interest for Advanced Manufacturing Research

A key aspect of advanced manufacturing research and innovation is the development and utilization of technologies that not only facilitate factory optimization but also extend integrated automated applications throughout the value chain and product life cycle. At the center of this revolution are digitization technologies, cyber-physical systems and additive manufacturing. But several other fields of knowledge and/or technologies are vital to these changes, such as robotics, the development of sensors and trackers, the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced materials, predictive analysis, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, high performance computing, analytics and big data.

Among the various opportunities in this area, FAPESP, through this announcement, is seeking proposals from companies and/or consortia of companies regarding their interest in establishing, in partnership with FAPESP, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Research Centers, highlighting the following areas of research and development:

1. Additive Manufacturing (3D printing, hybrid manufacturing, etc.);

2. Cyber-physical systems (information and communication technologies, mechatronic systems to monitor industrial process throughout the value chain);

3. Communication Networks and Cybersecurity (communication technologies between equipment, products, systems and individuals);

4. Sensors and Trackers: sensing and tracking devices (like IoT, RFID and nanosensors);

5. Virtualization, Modeling and Simulation (technologies that allow virtualization of product and process design and optimization);

6. Digitization (hardware and software for data collection along the chain of production and its later utilization in industrial and business processes);

7. Support technologies (to support processes, operations, people and equipment, including augmented reality, nanotechnology and wearables);

8. Artificial Intelligence, Ubiquitous Computing, Analytics and Big Data (technologies that allow considerable automation of processes, including robots and advanced algorithms for controlling and processing information);

9. New Materials and Smart Materials (including composites, light alloys, biomaterials, nanomaterials and portable devices);

10. Photonics: advanced optics, lasers, displays, optoelectronics and flexible electronics.

4 Definitions

a) Engineering Research Center: a complex and long-term research project for engaging in world-class research that significantly contributes to the innovation and R&D strategy of the proposing companies.

b) Principal Investigator (PI): the researcher responsible for preparing and submitting the proposal and for scientific and administrative coordination of the project in the event it is approved by FAPESP. The PI will be selected by mutual agreement of the institutions involved in the project.

i) The PI is always one of the Co-Principal Investigators on the project.

ii) In an Engineering Research Center, the PI is the Center Director.

c) Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): researchers on the team, proposed by the PI and approved by FAPESP, who have outstanding research backgrounds and whose participation is clearly specified in the research project submitted and essential to its development. Co-PIs may be entitled to additional benefits in the grants approved.

i) Engineering Research Centers may have more than one Co-PI in addition to the PI, as long as FAPESP has approved it;

ii) One of the Co-PIs in the Engineering Research Center is the Deputy Director of the Center and will be named by the proposing company or companies.

d) Associate Investigator (AI): team researchers, named by the PI and approved by FAPESP, who are responsible for contributing to well-defined parts of the Research Project submitted.

e) Principal Host Institution: the host institution that will receive the Project and to which the PI is associated. The association is not necessarily one of employment, but in any event, a formal association is required in order to establish, in a manner deemed satisfactory by FAPESP, the commitment to the project on the part of the PI and the host institution. The host institution will commit to storing and accessing material and equipment as well as providing institutional support to the research project.

f) Intellectual Property Agreement: Agreement made between the proposing company and/or consortia of companies, FAPESP and the partner education and research institutions prior to the commencement of Center operations, setting forth the rights and obligations related to the intellectual property generated or associated with the research activities to be carried out, according to the terms of FAPESP Administrative Ruling PR 4/2011.

5 Submission of Proposals

The Companies or consortia of companies interested in establishing the Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Research Centers must submit, within a period of 90 days, an initial proposal to establish the Center, and this proposal will contain an ambitious original nationally and internationally competitive “Overall Research Plan,” outlining the strategic goals and objectives of the Center, with details provided at a later stage.

This plan should demonstrate how the Center can contribute to the company’s R&D strategy and how it will engage its R&D team as a way to describe interactions between the Center and its R&D organization. The plan must specify the parties who will be responsible for future operation of the Center, as well as provide an initial estimate of funds allocated to the Center by the companies or consortia of companies. To facilitate its evaluation, the plan should specifically respond to the criteria listed in item 6 of this announcement.

This proposal must consist of no more than 25 pages and should include an Introduction, Justification, objectives of the Center and a summary of the technology strategy of the proposing companies or consortia of companies, a brief description of the Company’s R&D team, estimates for fund allocation and the line of reasoning that responds to the questions raised in item 6 below (ambitiousness, impact, engagement, financial contributions, R&D team commitment, ground-breaking character, international associations, spinoffs, non-mandatory nature of the R&D activities).

6 Selection of Business Proposals

In selecting proposals to establish Engineering Research Centers on the topic of Advanced Manufacturing, FAPESP will pay special attention to the following issues:

1. Justification for establishing the Center, especially in terms of feasibility of the initiatives and expected impact, consistency with the Overall Research Plan submitted to FAPESP and adherence to the topics defined in item 3 of this announcement.

2. The proposal’s ambitiousness and degree of international competitiveness, highlighting which characteristics of the Center would facilitate the development of world-class innovations.

3. Degree of impact on the company and industry, and prospects for innovations to spread throughout the industry.

4. How the proposal will mobilize and bring together several companies, despite different responsibilities.

5. Commitment of financial contribution to the project by the companies or consortia of companies, vis a vis economic considerations.

6. Expected degree to which researchers on the R&D team of the companies or consortia of companies are to be dedicated to the Center.

7. Ground-breaking and non-incremental nature of the Center’s intended innovations.

8. Prospects for association with other Centers or international R&D institutions that actively contribute to the Center’s research strategy.

9. Interest and potential for generating economically relevant intellectual property and/or establishing spinoffs and startups from the Center.

10. All things being equal, priority will be given to proposals in which R&D activities by the companies or consortia of companies are not subject to legal obligations or contributions of industry tax benefits.

7 FAPESP support to Engineering Research Centers

The Center, headquartered at one or more universities and/or research institutions in the state of São Paulo, will be funded by FAPESP, the companies or consortia of companies and the host institutions. Amounts to be contributed by FAPESP will be equal to the average of that contributed by the company/consortia of companies. The host institution must make a financial contribution (wages of researchers and support staff, infrastructure, facilities and grants from non-FAPESP sources) equal to at least the sum of the contributions by FAPESP and the company/consortia of companies.

The Center will have an initial funding period of 5 years and funding may be renewed for an additional 5 years by decision of the FAPESP-Companies Joint Steering Committee. In any event, once 10 years have passed, FAPESP and the companies will no longer be committed to maintaining the Center.

FAPESP is forbidden by law from providing support to administrative activities. For this reason, support from the host institution, as institutional contribution for all administrative activities, is essential for facilitating the establishment and operation of a Center.

Items that may be funded with resources requested from FAPESP will be used directly for the Engineering Research Center through the following mechanisms: grants (undergraduate, technical, master’s, doctorate, postdoc and visiting researcher), organization of work meetings, research equipment, consumables, third-party services, per diem allowances, transportation, and support to visiting researchers. Civil construction of research infrastructure projects may be funded to refurbish or modify existing facilities (as long as it entails no increase in the amount of constructed area) and provided such projects are critical to proper implementation of the Research Project.


Published May 11, 2017.