Research Project Synthesis


A significant part of the growth potential of the world economy for the coming decades resides mostly in some large less developed countries. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) have such potential. More than just that, BRICS are thought as having the capacity to “change the world” by the threats and opportunities they represent from the economic, social and political points of views.

International agencies and some analysts suggest that investors should pay careful attention to the opportunities presented by these countries. In this case, the emphasis has been restricted to the identification of investment possibilities in the BRICS production structures and to the perspectives presented by their consumer markets.

In the scope of this project the interest in analyzing BRICS goes much beyond. These countries present significant development opportunities, as well as several common characteristics and challenges. Identifying and analyzing them may help to uncover the possible paths for fulfilling their socio-political-economic development potential.

The central focus of this project is on innovation systems of BRICS. Although BRICS have put innovation in the centre of their development strategies, there is scarce knowledge about these efforts and the impacts on their economy and society. The current project aims to contribute to a better understanding of these issues.

The notion of innovation system has in its centre the production, S&T and education sub-systems; but includes also the financial subsystem, the investment patterns, the legal and political frameworks as well as other spheres connected to the national and international, contexts where knowledge are generated, used and diffused. In this effort it is necessary to develop conceptual and methodological frameworks capable of depicting their different private, public and governmental dimensions and that allow the comparison of the NIS of the five countries, pointing out convergences, divergences and synergies.

Particular attention will be given to policy implications. Better knowledge about the experience of the BRICS´ NIS will allow the identification and the analysis of competing areas, as well as common bottlenecks and complementarities, which are of paramount importance for the implementation of actual and potential joint actions. In order to do so, the project aims at including, not only students and researchers specialized on production and innovation development, but also policy-makers in national and international debates.

The main objectives of the project

  1.  to stimulate interactions and the exchange of experiences between researchers and policy-makers interested in innovation in BRICS aiming at creating capabilities and finding joint workable solutions;
  2.  to characterize the structure of BRICS´ national innovation systems, their recent evolution andperspectives;
  3.  to compare the five countries innovation systems, identifying differences and similarities, common bottlenecks and complementarities;
  4.  to develop and use concepts and information capable of representing the Innovation Systems of BRICS;
  5.  to discuss policy implications and put forward policy recommendations, extracting lessons that can be useful not only for these countries but also for other developing countries.

Project specific objectives

A) to increase the interaction of innovation researchers and government officers of BRICS through meetings and other forms of articulation (seminars, web page, etc).
B) to increase the knowledge about the NISs of BRICS through 
    - the development of adequate concepts and methodologies; 
    - the analysis of selected BRICS innovation systems –sectoral and horizontal themes that affect innovation in these countries;
C) to increase the capability both of researchers – in special graduate students - and government officers of BRICS through research on innovation systems, discussions, innovation panels and other forms of articulation;
D) to diffuse the knowledge generated through the publication of a book, setting up a web page and participation in meetings and panels.

This project is been sponsored by IDRC-International Development Research Centre and it is commonly mentioned as BRICS-IDRC Project. The BRICS-IDRC project is part of a broader project focused on BRICS innovation systems, named BRICS PROJECT.

Linked to the basic principles of GLOBELICS, the BRICS PROJECT aims to establish a global network of scholars who apply the concept ‘system of innovation & competence building’ as their analytical framework and to stimulate comparative studies across continents and cultures. A comparison between the different trajectories and strategies of the BRICS-countries aims at providing both analytical and conceptual challenges associated with the use of the systems of innovation framework in environments characterized by turbulence and transition.

The BRICS-PROJECT also creates a space for ‘horizontal learning’ where scholars and policy makers in the five countries can learn directly from each other without having to go through international institutions dominated by the US or Europe. Many of the problems are similar and by drawing upon each others experience the BRICS-countries can learn to find methods to find workable solutions.