Parents and babies in a pool


Brazil (chapter 8) has recorded some achievements over the past five years. For instance, Sirius, one of the world’s most sophisticated synchrotron light sources, is nearing completion.  

There is also a growing uptake of digital technologies in both the government and business sectors in areas such as health, banking and agriculture. In e-health, medical big data and AI are being used to develop prediction models and new drugs.  

The Brazilian scientific community has also mobilized rapidly during the Zika viral outbreak over 2015–2018 and during the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020. 

Technological innovation hubs within universities have prospered, notably with regard to patent filing, collaboration with industry and the incubation of innovative start-ups.  

Another positive development has been the rise in wind and solar energy, biofuels and biomass from 14.7% to 19.5% of total electricity generation between 2015 and 2018. Brazil has one of the world’s cleanest energy matrices, with renewables contributing to 85% of electricity generation in 2020, two-thirds of which came from hydropower. 

In 2018, the government announced the end of megahydropower projects in the Amazon, citing environmental concerns. A series of dam failures and the growing incidence of wildfires in the Amazon forest and Pantanal region attest to an insufficient environmental monitoring and disaster prevention system. In the past couple of years, some environmental protections have been rolled back.  

Several indicators are flashing a warning for the national innovation system. Business investment overall is down, as is the share devoted to R&D. Businesses are filing fewer patents. In parallel, federal research agencies have recorded a sharp drop in budget outlays. Domestic research expenditure contracted by 16% between 2015 and 2017. The share of industrial output in GDP and participation in foreign trade, especially as concerns manufactured products, are also on the decline.  

In mid-2020, the government published its Strategic Plan 2020–2030, which replaced the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2016–2022. The latter had been influenced by The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Even though the new plan mentions sustainable development as an overarching objective, the map of indicators and related targets contains few socio-economic and no environmental targets. An integrated approach to innovation planning had been one of Brazil’s policy strengths.  


  • Figure 8.1: Socio-economic trends in Brazil 
  • Figure 8.2: Trends in research expenditure in Brazil  
  • Figure 8.3: Trends in innovation in Brazil 
  • Figure 8.4: Trends in scientific publishing in Brazil 
  • Figure 8.5: Trends in Brazilian publications on Zika and related microcephaly 
  • Figure 8.6: Trends in human resources in Brazil  
  • Table 8.1: Progress towards the targets to 2022 of the Brazilian National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation