Engineering Research Center for Artificial Intelligence

Call For Research Proposals



Funding duration:

maximum of 10 years

Instructions for submission:

proposals must be submitted only through SAGe system

Proposals submission:

deadline on 04/15/2019

Contact person at FAPESP:

Patricia Tedeschi



One of the challenges for the advance of knowledge is the complexity of current scientific and technological problems. Tackling these problems often requires more than the 2 - 5 years support offered normally by FAPESP in its Regular Research Grants or Thematic Projects. Long time funding and, in many cases, interdisciplinary approaches permit the successful addressing of complex problems.

While dealing with these challenges requires bold approaches, many times the identification of the most rewarding problems requires the association with business or government entities that are directly connected to the market of society.

This initiative expands the aims of the FAPESP CEPID program, adding a component of research collaboration with industry thus bringing in the approach of FAPESP's Research Partnership for Technological Innovation (PITE) program.

The most important feature of FAPESP’s Engineering Research Centers (ERC) Program is the multiplicity of their missions. At the base of its activities, its core mission is to establish a World-Class Research Center throughout its existence and, in addition, develop effective means of Technology Transfer, Education and Dissemination of Knowledge.

The complexity of the execution of a research project as the ERC requires long-term funding and autonomous use of funds. It also requires a strong institutional connection to the co-funding partner and adequate means of rigorous follow-up and assessment of the Center’s performance.


IBM and FAPESP are developing a plan to create a Center of Artificial Intelligence (AI Center) to carry out fundamental and applied artificial intelligence (AI) research and seek to propel scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI for industries. AI systems have made remarkable progress in recent years, but further research is needed to overcome some major scientific challenges: make systems that know deeply, reason with purpose, learn continuously, and interact naturally. Similarly, applying current and future AI systems to real-world industrial problems still present remarkable technical challenges. The IBM-FAPESP AI Center is expected to advance AI algorithms and systems to increase AI’s impact on selected industries with focus on natural resources (oil & gas, mining, etc), agribusiness (including genomics & biotechnology), environment, and financial sector, and explore the socioeconomic implications of AI on those fields.

The IBM-FAPESP AI Center will be part of the IBM AI Horizons Network (AIHN) ( and will be the first of these centers in Latin America. The IBM AIHN centers are designed to apply AI technologies to some of the world’s most enduring challenges, ranging from healthcare, aging, image recognition, hardware acceleration, and many others. They address the entire AI stack from analyzing the unstructured and structured data required to train such systems to building the new computing systems needed to optimize the new data-intensive workloads of a truly digital world.

The Research Plan of the selected Research Center will include internationally competitive research in the topics listed in section 3 to establish a Center of Artificial Intelligence. The plan must explore to the maximum extent possible the synergies and complementarities among the topics listed.

In broader terms, the research center is expected to demonstrate a substantial contribution to each of the following goals:

a. Perform world-class science and research on the cutting edge of either fundamental or applied knowledge, seeking economic and social impact through innovation.

b. Transfer of knowledge to IBM and to society, including corporate and/or non-governmental and/or public sectors. Some examples of valuable achievements towards this objective are:

(i) Carrying out projects in partnership with governmental or non-governmental agencies that are responsible for public policies.

(ii) Start-up of small businesses that incorporate results of research developed by the Center in their products or services. These small businesses may benefit from the Innovative Research in Small Business Program (PIPE) at FAPESP.

c. Interacting with the educational system, especially at the primary and secondary levels, for example, through the FAPESP Public Education Research Program.

d. All the aforementioned activities and goals of the Research Centers stem from the performance of internationally competitive research, following the best global excellence benchmarks.

2.1 Composition of the Research Center team

A determining factor to the success of a Center is the existence of a team with balanced composition of co-Principal Investigators, Associate Investigators, Visiting Researchers, Post-Doctorate Researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and technical support personnel, supported by top quality administrative and management services, provided by both the research project and the supporting company.

Not only should a Research Center have world-class excellence, but it should also be justified by each of the following reasons:

a. The complexity of the investigated problems that in many cases, may require a multidisciplinary approach;

b. The scale, depth and duration of the proposed research activities.

c. The need for continuous interaction between team members to achieve scientific and/or technological goals, transferring and diffusing knowledge.

The dimensions, structure, and operation of each Center should be determined based on the activities to be carried out regarding research, dissemination and transfer of knowledge. In particular, the Center should be hosted by one Institution in the State of São Paulo. The association with other institutions in the State of São Paulo will be considered to enhance the value of the proposal and in some cases, may be essential to make the proposal stronger.

The AI Center aims to bring IBM researchers, world-class faculty, the AI research community in Brazil, young promises from Brazilian universities and research laboratories, and the top graduate students to work together on advanced research projects and experiments designed to accelerate the application of artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and related technologies.

The Center shall have one clearly defined common scientific and technological focus that articulates all research activities to be developed. It must be understood that this is not 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, minimum of 2 and maximum of 10 years, with regular assessments and any consequences of these assessments throughout this period. Funds allocated may be used with a degree of autonomy. However, FAPESP and IBM will maintain permanent supervision with periodic evaluations of Center activities.

The Center shall be directed by an Executive Committee (EC) composed of a Director (Principal Investigator), a Deputy Director, a Coordinator of Education and Dissemination of Knowledge, and a Technology Transfer Coordinator. The EC shall be supported by a staff of managers, professionals to be hired by the Host Institutions who should carry out and supervise all management and administrative tasks necessary for the operation of the Center.

2.1.1 Participation of IBM Scientists and Engineers

The Deputy Director is a researcher indicated by IBM and will have the prerogatives of a visiting researcher at the host institution (including technical and administrative support). The Deputy Director will be present at the Center and will contribute scientifically and operationally including overseeing the collaboration process between IBM and the Research Center. The goal is to guarantee a high level of interaction between the Center and IBM. 

IBM scientists and engineers may also be part of the Research Center to contribute and collaborate in specific projects. They will be present at the Research Center and may have the prerogatives of a visiting researcher at the host institution including technical and administrative support.

Participation of IBM in the activities of the Research Center, including the appointment of IBM’s scientists or technicians to participate in the Center’s activities will be discussed with the Principal Investigator after the review process.This procedure also allows for ensuring that groups in university and research institutions in the State of São Paulo compete on an equal basis;

2.2 International Advisory Board

The Research Center will establish an International Advisory Board (IAB) made up of renowned scientists in the Center’s field of focus. The IAB should include at least two foreign scientists who are active in the cutting edge of the knowledge in their areas. FAPESP expects the IAB to perform the main role of advising the operation of the Center, guiding the team regarding new opportunities for research, new directions, aiming at increasing its international competitiveness. The IAB should not be considered as a substitute to the FAPESP evaluation system, which will be implemented solely by FAPESP and IBM. The IAB must be convened by the Center Executive Board at least once a year. After every IAB meeting there will be a scheduled meeting with FAPESP and IBM representatives.

The proposals for this Call for Research Proposals must include a proposal for the academic organization and management systems of the Center, which unequivocally demonstrates the possibility of reaching the established objectives.

2.3 Topics to be Covered in the Research Plan

The themes of interest shared by IBM and FAPESP for this Call for Research Proposals are listed below. Novel approaches around the themes of research below are welcome.

AI Algorithms: The AI Center aims to be a key contributor to the scientific development of AI worldwide, creating advanced algorithms to expand the capabilities of machine learning including information extraction, graphical models, and deep learning. Researchers will create AI systems addressing all kinds of complex problems, which could benefit from robust, continuous /active learning, domain knowledge representation, and context inference. Researchers will invent new algorithms to leverage big data when available but also learn from limited data by leveraging incorporating complementary contextual and/or intrinsic knowledge.

Deep Reasoning and Knowledge Representation: The AI Center intends to address the challenge of creating AI systems with higher level reasoning (with natural language, structured data, logic, mathematics, and programming) which allows them (1) to interact and learn continuously – acquiring new knowledge and improving its decision-making capabilities, especially in industrial problems- and (2) to structure and represent meaning in a distributed form. 

AI in Portuguese: The AI Center will accelerate the availability of AI systems able to work with the Portuguese language, so they can ingest, process, converse, and speak in Portuguese. A major effort to create training datasets and other resources for Brazilian Portuguese and other Latin America languages will be executed and shared with the academic community in Brazil.

Industrial Applications of AI: Sao Paulo is the industrial heart of Brazil, and the AI Center aims to develop new applications of AI for professional use in fields such as agribusiness, natural resources, environment, and finance.  The AI Center will also explore the use of AI in areas, such as, the privacy of field data, specialization and personalization of services, active learning, training with small data, interpretability of AI,  visual comprehension, and optimization of value chains. The research will address specific needs of the AI Center’s selected industries, fostering the establishment of ontologies, knowledge bases, and training datasets specific to each industry.

AI for Good: The AI Center will explore how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits inclusively to a broader range of people, countries, and enterprises. The center will study the economic implications of AI and investigate how AI can improve prosperity and help individuals achieve more in their lives. Selected targets will be developed further by collaboration between IBM and the Center.


a. Research Center: as a part of FAPESP’s ERC Program, is a complex and long-term project regarding to develop world-class research that lead to the consolidation of a research center.

b. Principal Investigator (PI) and Director is the researcher responsible for preparing and submitting the Proposal and for the scientific and administrative coordination of the Project if approved by FAPESP and IBM. The PI should have the explicit endorsement of the Host Institutions and the other associated institutions, if this is the case. At a Research Center as part of FAPESP’s ERC Program, the PI is the Center Director.

c. Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): is a team researcher, proposed by the PI and approved by FAPESP and IBM. All co-PIs must have an excellent research background, their participation must be clearly specified in the Research Project, and this participation must be essential to the development of this Research Project. The Co-PIs may be entitled to using FAPESP’s Complementary Benefits.

(iii) The PI is necessarily one of the project's Co-Principal Investigators.

(iv) The Center may have more than one Co-Principal Investigator in addition to the Principal Investigator.

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

e. Associate IBM Investigator (AII): IBM scientists and engineers invited by a Co-Principal Investigator and approved by FAPESP and IBM, who are responsible for contributing to well-defined parts of a research project. They will have the prerogatives of a visiting researcher at the host institution.

f. Host Institution: the institution hosting the Project and to which the PI is connected by formal employment. The Host Institution should provide institutional support to the storing and accessing material and equipment for the project researchers.

3.1 Requirements for the PI and the co-PI's

a. A PhD degree or equivalent qualification.

b. An employment connection with a research institution in the state of São Paulo.

c. Have proven substantial scientific or technological production and leadership in large and bold research projects.

d. Have proven experience and competence in the area in which the Project is inserted, demonstrated by:

(i) Quality, regularity and impact of researcher’s scientific and technological production.

(ii) Training of researchers at the graduate level.

(iii) Experience with scientific exchange and execution of research projects in collaboration with researchers from institutions in Brazil and in other countries.

(iv) Ability to form research groups with results recognized by the scientific community.


Minimal essential conditions to justify a Center are:

a. Research Plan: the Proposal for a Center should have as a core an advanced and original research plan that is highly competitive both nationally and internationally.

b. Host Institution: the institution hosting the Research Center and to which the PI is connected. 

c. The formal commitment from the Host Institution(s) must include:

(i) A detailed description of the institutional contribution as well as schedules for disbursement and/or hiring of personnel. In this official document, there should be details on contributions regarding the following:

a. Physical space and infrastructure: the physical area set aside for the Center should not only provide for perfect functioning of activities related to research, innovation and diffusion, but also permanent interaction among its researchers. When this does not fully exist, the proposal must include a commitment to build it and timeline for its construction.

b. Personnel assigned to the proper administration and management of the Project.

c. Technical support staff.

(ii) The institutions involved in the Center must prepare a single document listing all institutional commitments signed by the highest-level administration of each the Institutions.

d. Center Director, who is also the PI, and Team: the experiences of the ERCs and similar Centers in other countries have shown that the success of implementing the Centers is highly dependent on the appropriate choice of its Director and Team of Researchers.

(i) The Center Director, a researcher with a solid background of internationally competitive scientific achievements in the area of the Center, should also have proven leadership and management abilities to develop large-scale projects.

(ii) The PI and Co-PIs must stand out for their excellence. They must be researchers who have produced scientific work of international impact and have shown competence for cooperative research within the Center's focal theme. The research team is expected to include some young researchers with proven potential for research. The composition of the team must reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the Research Project.

(iii) There may be Researchers in other countries or other States of Brazil taking part in the research team provided they have proven excellence in research. In this case, the budget proposed may provide funds for transportation of these researchers to the Host Institution and for their maintenance, within the guidelines of the Visiting Research Award from FAPESP.

e. The Center must have an Education and Knowledge Dissemination Coordinator and a Technology Transfer Coordinator.

(i) The Education and Knowledge Dissemination Coordinator should be experienced in developing projects in this area and will be assisted by a Manager of Education and Dissemination of Knowledge, who must be hired by the Host Institution.

(ii) The Technology Transfer Coordinator should be a researcher experienced in Technology Management who will be assisted by a Technology Transfer Manager, who should be hired by the Host Institution.

f. The PI and co-PIs must demonstrate a substantial time and dedication to the Center activities.

(i) The PI and Co-PIs are expected to dedicate, at least, 20 hours per week to activities in the Center.

(ii) Other team members may be less dedicated, if justifiable and compatible with their duties on the project.

f. Agreements, joint projects or collaborations established or under negotiation with internationally recognized foreign Centers, departments or research institutes with research focus on the area of the Research Center are non-exclusive conditions that can make the proposal more competitive. When they are not included in the proposal, the selected Research Center should establish such collaborations in the first year of its operation.


For the selected Center, funding will initially be awarded for a 2 years period, which may be renewed, by decision of the Joint FAPESP-IBM Steering Committee, at the end of the 2nd, 4th, and 7th years wide ranging assessments that may include visits to the Center. Continuation of funding is dependent on these assessments. In any event, after ten years, FAPESP and IBM will not have any commitment to maintain the Center.

Funding from FAPESP and IBM is not expected to be the sole and exclusive support of the Center – within the Project there should be documentation of total necessary budgeting for the operation of the Center and the sources, including FAPESP and IBM, which will contribute to each item.

A significant factor in providing value to the Proposal during the selection process is the existence of funding from sources beyond FAPESP, IBM and the Host Institution, provided they are aimed at objectives that are in line with the mission of the Center, as defined in the Project submitted to FAPESP and IBM.

Funding from FAPESP and IBM may be complemented by other sources if the FAPESP-IBM Joint Steering Committee approves the contributions in advance.

The total economic and financial support from FAPESP and IBM to the Center will not be larger than US$500,000.00 annually for any year, considering both Parties contribution; included in this total are the values ascribed to the Overhead for Direct Infrastructure Costs for the Project (see section 2.2 of Annex I) and the overheads for any awarded fellowships.

5.1 Program Funding

FAPESP and IBM will, each one, reserve up to US$500,000.00 annually to implement the program, with up to 1 proposal expected to be selected.

5.1.1 Items that may be funded by FAPESP

FAPESP is forbidden by law to support administrative activities. For this reason, support for all administrative activities as an institutional contribution will be essential to making the creation of a Center feasible.

Items that may be funded by FAPESP are: fellowships (at scientific initiation, technical training, master, doctorate, post-doctorate levels), visiting researcher grants, organization of work meetings, research equipment, consumables, third-party services, per diem allowances for travel, transportation, living expense aids to visiting researchers. Funding may cover civil construction of research infrastructure to remodel or adapt already existing structures (considering no increase in built area), which are essential to the appropriate execution of the Research Project. Further information on Fundable Items is available at Annex I.

5.1.2 Items that may be funded by IBM

Items that may be funded with funds requested to IBM are:

a. Capital goods or equipment, necessary to the Research Project, provided they stay under the ownership of Institutions of the public or private Higher Education and Research Institutions in the State of São Paulo, after the completion of the project;

b. Fellowship for undergraduate, Masters, Doctorate students and Post-Doctorate researchers, with values at least equal to the fellowships FAPESP provides for these arrangements, including contingency funds;

c. Acquisition of consumables, travel expenses and services where directly necessary to the Research Project;

d. Expenditures directed to the infrastructure necessary to the Research Project;

e. Funds to supplement wages of faculty or researchers employed by institutions of Higher Education and Research that host the project;

f. Funds for hiring, for the period of the project, researchers and technical support needed for research work associated with the project;

g. Other items as specifically approved by FAPESP.

5.1.3  Restrictions

a. There may be no additional salary payments of any nature using FAPESP funds.

b. The law also prohibits FAPESP from supporting administrative activities of any kind. These activities, necessary for the success of the Center, should be fully guaranteed by the Host Institutions, with complementary funds coming from any other sources being well documented.

c. FAPESP funds may not be used to finance neither construction of new buildings nor of annexes to already existing buildings.

5.1.4  Required Institutional Support

As already mentioned, FAPESP is forbidden by law to support administrative activities and paying salaries. For this reason, support for all administrative activities (procurement, management, secretary services, and others) and payment of research support personnel as an institutional contribution will be essential to the feasibility of creating a Center. Thus, guaranteeing administrative infrastructure is an essential part of the institutional contribution.

Moreover, the Host Institution must ensure:

a. Personnel and services for administration and management, including at least:

(i) One Executive Manager of the Center.  Executive Managers are professionals who do more than relieving the administrative burden on researchers. The Executive Manager should have a complete grasp of the operational structure of the Center in order to identify opportunities, foresee difficulties and promote organization at all levels. A competent Manager will strive to ensure that the only barriers against the research be the scientific or technological challenges facing the investigators. The following qualifications are expected:

a. Good technical knowledge of the area, sufficient to discuss research developments in forums ranging from internal workshops to international conferences with funding agencies;

b. Excellent communication skills. English fluency is indispensable;

c. Strong administrative background. Should be able to plan, coordinate team work and assess progress;

d. Encompassing vision of the Center, of the research environment in which it is set, and of its future;

e. Leadership, resilience, and enthusiasm.

(ii) One Technology Transfer Manager.

(iii) One Education and Knowledge Dissemination Manager.

(iv) All technical personnel needed for perfect support of research and other activities.

(v) Plan for admitting new researchers/professors: item not required, but adds significant value to the proposal.

b. Total technical support and facilities for the Center.

c. Administrative support for procurement, scheduling, accounting, and all other administrative tasks needed for successful functioning of a Center of the intended size.

All institutional contributions must be described and quantified in physical data and financial and economic numbers: earmarking, salaries for researchers and support personnel, facilities (layout of the area to be occupied by the Center), equipment and infrastructure to which the Center will have access (e.g. communication, computer network, support workshops, administrative resources). The intensity of the institutional support considered necessary and approved by FAPESP will be an important item in FAPESP assessment of the proposals.


The activities at each Center will be assessed annually via the Progress Reports. At the end of the second, fourth, and seventh years, wide-ranging assessments that may include visits will be carried out. The results of these assessments will be decisive to continued support from IBM and FAPESP.

a. If the Center is not approved in the 2nd year assessment, it will have 6 more months of reduced support in order to deactivate.

b. If the Center is approved in the 2nd year, it will have its support renewed for 2 more years.

c. If the Center is not approved in the 4th year assessment or in any of the subsequent assessments the Center will have one additional year of reduced support to deactivate or find new sources of funding.

d. The maximum support time for the Center is 10 years.


All proposals will be internationally peer reviewed; hence, they must be presented in ENGLISH.

During the review process, the reviewer may consult the Lattes CVs of the PI, Co-PIs and other members of the scientific team; therefore, the Lattes CVs must be updated.

The proposal must be submitted by the PI (Centre Director if the proposal is approved), with the endorsement of the appropriate institutional directors (for example, at a State University there should be an endorsement from the Unit Director, the Dean of Research, and the University President), and of the Co-PIs. The list of documents that must be submitted is available at the SAGE System, and includes.

1) Project: 

 Identification on Cover Sheet

PI, name of the Centre, name of Host Institution and associated institutions, names and connections of Coordinators proposed for Education and Dissemination of Knowledge and Technology Transfer.

Abstract (30 lines)

The research proposal's abstract.

Summary (up to two pages)

a) Statement of the Centre mission;

b) Description of the Centre and its specific features;

c) Focus of research activities and, if applicable, their multidisciplinary articulation;

d) Expected Technology Transfer and Education and Dissemination of Knowledge activities;

e) Justification for creation of the Centre; Brief description of the institutional contribution.

Research Plan and description of its scientific relevance (up to 20 pages, including bibliographic references) 

The Research Plan is the core of the Centre Proposal. It should describe the scientific and technological challenges to be faced, the state of the art in the area, as well as the means, methods, and materials necessary to face them. It should list activities proposed with the state of the art in the area. A bold and original Research Plan that is highly competitive nationally and internationally is expected. How the chosen strategy will influence the area of research in a significant manner should be shown. The Research Plan should articulate the vision for the Centre, outlining the scientific macro-challenges that will be faced and/or the sought after scientific discoveries. The plan needs to specifically justify, in terms of complexity of problems and/or scale and potential of scientific relevance, the special support that is offered and the potential time span of 10 years. The scientific objectives of the Centre and the research activities should be described in a sufficiently detailed manner to allow for scientific assessment of their merit as well as of the need for a Centre to carry them out. They should be aligned with the statement of the Centre Mission defined above. The Research Plan should also show how the integration between Education and Dissemination of Knowledge and Technology Transfer must contribute to advancing research.

2) Justification for the Centre (up to three pages): the existence of the Centre must be justified based on the nature, importance, and feasibility of the activities to be developed. It should be based on each of these reasons:

a) Complexity of the problems to be addressed;

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

c) Multidisciplinary character of the research planned;

d) Need for continual interaction between Team members.

3) Action Plan for Education and Knowledge Dissemination (EDC) (up to three pages, including bibliographical references):

The activities of the Centre must include dissemination of knowledge. This will mainly focus on the graduate and post-graduate level. Prior experience of participants with this type of activity should be briefly described, emphasizing documented results. The Proposals are expected to contribute to Education and Dissemination of Knowledge and to engaging graduation and post-graduation levels. The project team must include a Coordinator responsible for these activities and a Manager hired by the Host Institution.

4) Action Plan for Technology Transfer (TT) (up to three pages including bibliographic references): Research activities at the Centre should have great potential for exchange with other research and knowledge transfer institutions to the productive and government sectors. The Technology Transfer proposal should describe how the Centre will develop and implement these activities. Prior experience of participants with this type of activity should be briefly described, emphasizing documented results (projects, co-authored publications, licensed or co-licensed patents, absorption of graduate students by collaborator companies, etc.). The plan must be described and the viability of technology transfer activities must be shown via projects done in partnership, incubation of companies, continuing education programs, and other activities. The project team must include a Coordinator responsible for these activities and a Manager hired by the Host Institution AND

5) Management Plan and Organizational Structure for Centre operations, including:

a) Governance, Management Plan and Structure (up to three pages): The Center must have an organizational structure and governance that are adequate to the complexity and diversity of its objectives. The organizational chart must include Coordinators responsible for the education and diffusion of knowledge activities and the Coordinator of the technology transfer activities, in addition to other coordinators that the proposers consider necessary. The governance should also show how the Center will be located within the Host Institution organization, and how research programs will be integrated to other institutions. The governance should detail the management model for activities and mechanisms of collaboration. In terms of team meetings, at least one annual meeting should be included, in which the results and/or projects and/or plans for the coming period will be presented and discussed, held in addition to regular team meetings. The governance shall also include information on how the Centre will manage health, safety, security (HSE) and environmental risks, and it should contain a management of change strategy statement.

b) Executive Committee (CE) (one page): This should be composed of at least the Principal Investigator responsible for the proposal (Centre Director), the Deputy  Director, and the Technology Transfer and Education and Dissemination of Knowledge Coordinators. There may be other members if necessary. The CE should supervise all day-to-day operations at the Centre and should be assisted by an appropriate support team connected to the Host Institution.

c) Proposal for composition of the International Advisory Board (IAB) (up to two pages): Suggested names, their justification, and modus operandi of the IAB. FAPESP expects the IAB to perform the main role of supervising the functioning of the Centre and guiding the team regarding opportunities and research, new directions to take, and increased international competitiveness of the science created by the Centre. Members should be both researchers who are very highly regarded for their international excellence and people to whom the Centre Director and Coordinators have easy access.

d) Proposed initiatives aimed at attracting Young Researchers: the Center is expected to capitalize on FAPESP´s Young-Researchers Award Program. This section should describe the actions that are planned with a view to recruiting young researchers with substantial international experience—minimum two-year postdoctoral work at top level foreign research institutions—and outstanding scientific achievements.  

6) Team: it must be presented at the SAGE System and must be completed with all the Team Members, including researchers (including post-doctorate fellows), technicians, administrative support personnel, and students. A description of the responsibilities of each of the co-Principal Investigators should be included in the Research Plan. The Centre is expected to have a Team with a balanced distribution between co-Principal Investigators, Associate Investigators, Visiting Researchers, Post-Doctorate Researchers, students and the corresponding technical and administrative support. In addition to the Centre’s Director and  Deputy Director, the Proposal must include:

a) The Coordinator responsible for Education and Dissemination of Knowledge activities;

b) The Coordinator responsible for Technology Transfer activities;

c) The team of researchers responsible for executing research projects to be developed;

d) For each member of the scientific team (Principal Investigator - Director, Vice Director, TT and EDC Coordinators, and Principal Investigators) the proposal must include the Résumé (model available at SAGE);

7) Description of the infrastructure available for the project

8) Details on other current and expected support (up to two pages): list of other support already contracted or other expected support.

9) Details of institutional support and its costs (up to five pages): description of the institutional support offered by the Head Institution, including detailed information on the costs of each item of support.

10) Estimate of Total Budget for the Centre: this should include all sources of funds the Centre will have access to. The funds should be listed in terms of general items (Scientific Personnel, Technical Personnel, Administrative Personnel, Students, Permanent Equipment and Material, Consumables, Third-Party Services).

11) Budget Request for FAPESP and IBM: it must be filled in the SAGE “R$/US$” form for FAPESP. IBM budget can be found in the list of documents. Both should include justification (based on the objectives for the Research Plan, the Technology Transfer and Education and Dissemination of Knowledge Plans) for all of the items, detailing the relationship of the need with the Proposal item. This budget request for FAPESP and IBM should be prepared for the first five years of the Centre’s operation, with justifiable estimates. The budget should include the support requested from FAPESP for Research, Technology Transfer and Education and Knowledge Dissemination, detailing the function to be met for each item (Research, Technology Transfer and Education and Knowledge Dissemination).


Proposals will undergo a competitive review process, considering the degree to which the proposal complies with each one of the conditions listed in sections 2 and 4 of this Call for Research Proposals.

Proposals will be submitted to FAPESP and be distributed to reviewers appointed jointly by FAPESP and IBM, with expertise on the Research Center area. 

Following receipt of all the reviews, the proponents will receive excerpts reproducing the criticism on their proposals. Proponents with reasons to question the criticism will have the opportunity to respond, up to 7 days after receiving the excerpts. 

a. A specific electronic form will be published at the FAPESP website for this purpose; 

b. No revision of the proposals will be accepted, at this stage;

c. The FAPESP-IBM Joint Steering Committee will consider the proponents’ comments, along with the reports, in the review process.  

The review process may, at the discretion of the FAPESP-IBM Joint Steering Committee, include interviews with the Principal Investigator and Directors of the Host Institution, as well as visits to the Host Institutions.

At the end of the review, FAPESP and IBM may recommend the merging of proposals.

8.1 Objects of Review

a. SCIENTIFIC MERIT. Boldness of the Proposal benchmarked by analysis of the international state of the art for the area. The Project should be strategic and present reachable and measurable objectives to be met during the duration of the Program. It is essential that realistic and detailed timelines be made for the first two years of the Project. The research plan should allow for evaluation of the potential for creating a Center that may become a world-class reference in the area in which it works. One of the important elements of the plan should be the strategy for effective international cooperation.

b. FOCUS. One common scientific/technological focus that articulates research activities to be developed is mandatory.

c. JUSTIFICATION FOR CREATION OF THE CENTER . The Proposal must explain the need to create the Research Center. This Program is not simply a mechanism for funding, but rather intends to contribute to building a world class Center capable of creating cutting edge science and transferring and diffusing knowledge.

d. DIRECTOR QUALIFICATIONS. The Center Director must be a researcher with a solid background of internationally competitive scientific achievements in the area in which the Center works, who should also have the ability to lead and to manage in order to develop large-scale projects.

e. QUALIFICATION OF THE PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS. It is essential that the Director have an academic profile that is compatible with the proposals of the Plan and that the Principal Investigators have the potential to occupy the Director position.

f. QUALIFICATION OF THE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER COORDINATOR. Experience in research and in Management and Transfer of Technology.

g. QUALIFICATIONS OF THE COORDINATOR OF EDUCATION AND DISSEMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE. Experience in research and development of projects in the area of Education and Dissemination of Knowledge.

h. ADEQUACY OF THE SCIENTIFIC TEAM. Qualification, size, recent academic background, balance between senior and junior team members, participation of emerging leaders, involvement of post-doctoral researchers with grants on recent research done by Principal Investigators. The team is expected to have a balanced composition of Principal Investigators, Associate Investigators, Visiting Researchers, Post-Doctoral Researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and technical support personnel, supported by top quality administrative and management services.

i. INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONS. Quality and dimensions of established or under-negotiation collaborations with internationally recognized foreign divisions focused on the area or the Research Center. 

j. INSTITUTIONAL COMMITMENTS TO THE CREATION OF THE RESEARCH CENTER. The quality and quantity of the institutional contribution, including physical space to be used by the Center and administrative and management support, need to be compatible with the boldness of the proposal objectives.

k. TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER PROPOSAL. The intensity of transfer of knowledge to the industry, public or third sectors, may vary in intensity based on the Project focus, and should lead to a stronger bond between research institutions and the outside environment and contribute to bringing new challenges in research to institutions, guaranteeing that social benefits created by the research done are maximized.

l. EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE DISSEMINATION PROPOSAL. Mechanisms for diffusion and education that consolidate existing processes or propose radical innovations with the potential for improving teaching and the perception of science by society.

m. BUDGET ADEQUACY. Sources and uses; balance between costs and personnel and cost of equipment; adequacy to objectives; effective and appropriate use of existing multi-user infrastructure; access to other confirmed or prospective sources; institutional support.




Deadline for submission of proposals

April 15, 2019

Announcement of Proposals Selected

August 15, 2019 




The cooperation between FAPESP, IBM, and the Host Institutions will be regulated by a separate agreement, which will define:

a) The schedule of disbursements and financial reports;

b) The definition and timing of expected results at each stage of the project;

c) Clauses on Intellectual Property, commercial exploitation and confidentiality;

d) Term;

e) Legal venue.

This agreement must be signed until September 30, 2019



The research project budget presented to FAPESP must be detailed and each item must be specifically justified in terms of objectives of the proposed plans. Please read the Accountability Manual:

Items that may not be funded are: salaries of any nature, third-party services of a non-technical and sporadic nature, civil construction, acquisition of publications, travel (except for field research and to present work at scientific conferences), administrative services and materials.

Items allowable for funding include the following.

11.1 Research project costs

a) Permanent material acquired in Brazil or imported;

b) Consumables acquired in Brazil or imported;

c) Third-Party Services hired in Brazil or abroad;

d) Transportation and Per Diem Expenses for activities connected directly with carrying out the proposed research, including for visits from Visiting Researchers;

e) Fellowships: Fellowships requested as a Budget item (BCO) under the following modalities and pursuant to FAPESP standards may be requested: Post-Doctorate (PD), Doctorate (DR), Honors Doctorate (DD), Masters (MS), Scientific Initiation (IC), and Technical Training (TT);

e.1) The advisor/supervisor of each fellowship candidate must be the Principal Investigators or one of the co-Principal Investigators.

e.2) For each requested fellowship, a Plan of Activities must be presented with the initial proposal containing up to two pages, including the Fellowship Project Title, Summary, and Plan Description.

e.3) The plan for each fellowship needs to be consistent with the research proposal and should be referenced within the research proposal in a manner that makes it possible to see the connection with and the importance to the project proposed.

e.4) The name of the fellowship candidate should not be indicated on the proposal. If the fellowship is approved, the researcher responsible for the grant must hold a selective and publicly announced process to select fellowship candidates based on academic merit.

e.5) Rules for awarding fellowships as a budget item (BCO) are available at

e.5.i) Scientific Initiation Research Fellowship candidates should have already concluded a sufficient number of relevant classes in order to carry out the research project and obtain maximum academic benefit.

e.5.ii) Candidates for Doctorate, Direct Doctorate, and Masters level fellowships should have been accepted into the project Host Institution’s graduate program or Co-PIs Institution.

e.5.iii) In the case of Post-Doctorate Fellowship given as a budget item of the project, the selective process must necessarily be international and must be documented and approved by FAPESP at the time that each Fellowship is awarded.

e.5.iv) If documents proving a public and international selective process are not presented the fellowship will not be granted by FAPESP.

e.6) Scientific Initiation, Master, Doctorate and Post-Doctorate fellowship may also be requested separately, as Complementary Requests, in accordance with what is set forth in item 4 below, connected to ERC Projects in specific proposals, according to the traditional procedures for the FAPESP Fellowship Programs.

11.2 Overhead (Technical Reserve)

a) For the ERC Program, the rules for the Technical Reserve in Thematic Projects apply, with certain modifications with respect to the schedule.

b) The Technical Reserve is composed of three parts:

b.1) Additional Benefits;

b.2) Overhead for Direct Expenses with Research Infrastructure;

b.3) Overhead for Institutional Expenses with Research Infrastructure.

c) The detailed rules for use of the Technical Reserve are available at

11.3 Research Infrastructure Grant

a) In the initial request or at the time when reports are presented, the Principal Investigator may request funds for small remodeling projects, aimed at guaranteeing the infrastructure needed to develop the project. New construction is prohibited. This request should be justified in detail and be associated with relevant funding contributed by the Host Institution.

11.4 Complementary Requests

The items needed to develop the project are expected to be accounted for in the proposal; however, exceptionally, FAPESP may receive additional requests associated with the proposal.

Complementary Requests are those requests associated with current ERC Project objectives whose consideration or treatment has undergone some modification as a result of this condition. Processes that are under consideration as complementary requests to the Research Center Project are called “Connected Processes.” The concept applies to requests for Research Assistance – Visiting Researcher, Research Assistance – Publication, and requests for Grants within Brazil – Regular and Foreign Research Grant – Regular.

a) Complementary Requests should be effective for a time compatible with that of the Research Center Project to which they are connected and may not, under any circumstances, exceed the effective time of the Research Center Project.

a.1) For Research Award from a Visiting Researcher, the duration of the stay should be contained in the duration of the Research Center Assistance to which it is connected.

a.2) For Fellowships, the start date should be such that there is an appropriate overlap between the effectiveness of the initial awarding of the fellowship and the remaining effectiveness to the Award to which it is connected. Adaptation of the connection will be analysed by the Scientific Directorate considering items such as the nature of the work plan and the effective dates for the Award in relation to the effective dates for the fellowship.

a.2.i) If the overlap is not found to be appropriate, the Fellowship request will be analysed, but it will not qualify as a Complementary Request.

b) Complementary Requests must necessarily be endorsed by the Principal Investigator for the ERC Project to which they are connected.

c) Requests submitted to FAPESP as “Complementary Requests" and which are not classifiable in the definition above will be received, but will be considered as independent and non-connected requests.

d) Complementary Requests in the modalities of Visiting Researcher and Publication Assistance associated with the Project may be waived from being sent for external analysis and be analysed by the Area or Supervising Area.

e) Complementary Requests for Master, Doctorate, Direct Doctor, and Post-Doctorate Fellowships connected to the Projects will be given priority in the respective sessions of comparative analysis, if they are equal in conditions and in academic items to the other proposals under analysis.

f) For Complementary requests for Post-Doctorate Fellowships, there is differential treatment regarding the duration of the fellowship (see rules at

g) Complementary Requests must be made individually using the appropriate forms and accompanied with relevant documentation, as described in the respective manual. Furthermore, they must be accompanied by the Project summary, which is an indispensable item for analysing the activity proposed within the project’s context, highlighting the fact that this is a complementary request to a Research Center Project and citing the process number.

g.1) These requests will be new processes at FAPESP, with their own reports and accountability. The funds awarded will not be subtracted from the Project budget.

11.5 Use of IBM funding

In addition to items listed in sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Annex I, the company's funds can be used to pay the hiring, for the period of the project, of researchers and technical support needed for research work associated with the project; and to supplement wages of faculty or researchers employed by the Research Institutions involved in the Project. The funds contributed by the IBM will be disbursed to the Host Institution.

11.6 Annex 2 Specific Instructions for SAGe System (Guidelines for SAGe submission)

1. Principle Investigator must be registered in the SAGe system:

(I) Researchers who do not have a SAGe registration should initially do so by accessing the SAGe page at, clicking on “Sem cadastro?” and fill in the requested data. It is not enough to just register as a user, it is necessary to complete the cadastral data;
(II) Researchers from the State of São Paulo, already registered, must log in to SAGe with the usual identification and password to access the system homepage.

2. On the home page, select from the menu options "Acesso rápido – Atividades do Pesquisador", the link “Nova Proposta Inicial”.

3. In the Current Calls section, select and click the link for this Call for proposals.

4. The system will display the menu "Incluir proposta" on the following page to confirm the selected Call.

5. Click the “Incluir” button to start preparing your proposal.

6. Include the requested data in all the tabs, including the list of documents to be attached.

7. Attention to the obligation to fill all items marked with "*". You must submit the project at the end of the form. Saved project does not mean submitted project.

8. If you have any doubts, you can use the Manuals link on the SAGe home page and, in the Manuals page, search for explanations in the Manuais de Apoio aos Pesquisadores.

9. IMPORTANT: It is strongly recommended to periodically check the pending proposals using the "Validar" option. This can be done repeatedly as the proposal is built, allowing the necessary arrangements for submission to be made in time. When selecting the option "Validar", the SAGe system will present the impediments pending to submit the proposal considering the items that were already inserted. In case of doubts about the use of SAGe system, in addition to the Manuals, FAPESP also provides assistance at the Information Sector (11 3838-4000).

Attention: Since 01/11/2016, for proposal submission, it is mandatory to attach a scanned copy of the identification document to the SAGe register. (Access menu "Meus dados> Alteração de Cadastro" and attach the requested document in the "Documento de Identificaç&a