FAPESP signs new cooperation agreements in Germany
Partnerships formalized with the Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany and the University of Münster during FAPESP Week Munich
By Karina Toledo, in Munich
Agência FAPESP – Two new agreements aimed at promoting cooperation among researchers from the state of São Paulo and Germany were signed by FAPESP on October 15th during the FAPESP Week Munich symposium.
Partnerships were formalized with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany (abbreviated BMBF) and the University of Münster, one of the three most important institutions of higher education in Germany.
The event held at the Deutsches Museum in Munich was attended by close to 170 people, among them representatives from the German federal government, the Bavarian state government, the FAPESP Executive Board, and leading academic and research institutions of the two countries.
In welcoming guests, Deutsches Museum Director General and host of the event, Wolfgang Heckl, said that the venue was selected to host the conference organized by FAPESP in partnership with the Bavarian University Center for Latin America (BAYLAT) because it is a place where “science and technology meets society.”
“We are one of the most important science museums in the world and we also conduct research. This is therefore the perfect place for a gathering of researchers,” he said.
He was followed by Minister of Education, Science and the Arts for the State of Bavaria, Ludwig Spaenle, who noted that successful internationalization is one of the principal goals of Bavarian universities in the coming years.
“We are looking for strong partners and there are many to be found in São Paulo. I am impressed by the progress of FAPESP and the results of research carried out, and certain that FAPESP Week Munich 2014 will help promote collaborative research between Bavaria and São Paulo,” he said.
Brazilian Ambassador to Germany, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, pointed out that there are few countries with which Brazil has such a close relationship. This closeness, says Viotti, dates back to the 19th century, when several German naturalists first became interested in studying the geography, flora, fauna and indigenous populations of Brazil.
“German immigration to Brazil helped shape Brazilian culture and society. Continuing dialogue between the cultures and personal experiences forged the development of an extraordinary network of mutual interests in our societies over the years,” she stated.
According to Viotti, cooperation in science, technology and innovation is becoming increasingly more important as the two countries, mainly Brazil, face the challenges of improving their economic competitiveness.
“Brazil sees Germany as a strategic ally in developing science and technology. We are aware of the key role centers of excellence, such as those found in Bavaria, can play in this process. FAPESP is one of the most well-qualified institutions in Brazil for promoting international collaborative research, and this symposium will be an important step in developing new projects and opportunities to move in that direction,” she said.
FAPESP President Celso Lafer noted that the symposium is part of the São Paulo foundation’s strategy of internationalization and that he is convinced that science-related diplomacy is an important contribution to international peace.
“Researchers all over the world share common values related to scientific investigation and in this regard they are stakeholders in the cooperation process. Certain decision making and public policy formulation processes have much to gain with the support science can offer,” he pointed out.
In addition to Lafer, the FAPESP Executive Board was represented by Chief Executive Officer, José Arana Varela, and Scientific Director, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz.
The delegation from the São Paulo foundation also included Coordinator of Engineering, Euclides Mesquita Neto, Special Advisor for Institutional and International Affairs, Marilda Bottesi, Communications Consultant, Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, and nine researchers from the University of São Paulo who are scheduled to present the findings of their work at the event.
Brazilian biodiversity on display
Shortly after the opening ceremony of FAPESP Week Munich, the exhibit, “Brazilian Nature: Mystery and Destiny” was unveiled. It will be on display in the foyer of the Deutsches Museum Library through January 6, 2015.
The display, which has already visited institutions in the United States, Canada, England, Spain, Japan, China and Germany, consists of 37 panels that depict the research work carried out by Bavarian naturalist Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius from 1817 to 1820, still considered to be the most comprehensive collection of Brazilian flora ever amassed.
This version of the exhibit was enriched by the addition of six original works produced by German naturalists that are part of the collection of the Deutsches Museum Library. The books depict the geography, flora, fauna and population of 19th century Brazil.
“We have Germany’s largest library dedicated to science and technology, with nearly one million books. One of the works on display, published by Joseph Jacob von Plenck, about Brazilian flora, is particularly valuable because it is considered to be the basis for the pharmaceutical use of plants,” Heckl told Agência FAPESP.
During the inauguration ceremony, Lafer noted that the exhibit is the result of work carried out by researchers involved in the Biota-FAPESP project, which revised and updated the work Flora Brasiliensis, originally published by von Martius between 1840 and 1906.
The panels allow comparisons between the original 19th century images and current photographs of plants and biomes. Digitized panels of the exhibit may be viewed with captions in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Japanese and German at: www.fapesp.br/publicacoes/braziliannature.
On Wednesday morning, FAPESP directors met with Bernd Sibler, the state minister of the Bavarian State Ministry of Education, Science and the Arts, Michael Mihatsch, the deputy minister, and Christoph Parchmann, the head of the ministry’s Department of International Affairs. The subject of meeting discussions was the importance of cooperation between the states of São Paulo and Bavaria.
From there, the FAPESP delegation visited Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) to discuss the possibility of formalizing a cooperation agreement between the two institutions.
In attendance at the meeting were Hans van Ess, the vice-president for international affairs at LMU, Stefan Lauterbach, the director of the International Office, Thomas Koch, the director of the Research Financing and Young Researchers Division, Susanne Weber, of the Division of Strategy and Development of the Excellence Initiative, Lena Bouman, of the Center for Advanced Studies, and Susanne Dietrich, of the International Office for Latin American Cooperation.
“Internationalization is important for a university’s success. I am fully aware of how important Latin America and Brazil in particular have recently become. LMU has only three representative offices in the world and one of theerlm is in São Paulo, which shows how important Brazil is to us,” van Ess said.
Lauterbach presented an overview of the Bavarian university, which was founded in 1472 and considered to be one of Europe’s leading universities. According to him, LMU has nearly 50,000 students, 700 professors and 3,900 academic personnel. It offers courses and research in all areas of knowledge. The institution has already seen 13 winners of the Nobel Prize and 17 winners of the Leibniz Prize, Germany’s highest scientific award, pass through its doors.
Weber then offered a presentation on the programs carried out by the LMU under the scope of the “The Excellence Initiative,” program established by the German federal government to promote cutting-edge research, set up outstanding conditions for young scientists at universities, and strengthen international cooperation.
At the end of the meeting, Brito Cruz presented a brief overview of science in the state of São Paulo and the work carried out by FAPESP in promoting science.