In April 2011, the Brazil Institute organized and hosted the first annual Brazilian Congressional Study Mission on Innovation, in partnership with Brazil’s Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (Interfarma). Through seminars with experts in academia, government, and industry, the first congressional mission aimed to facilitate interaction between members of the Brazilian Congress and the leading innovative minds in science and technology with the goal of promoting a better understanding of policies and best practices that foster innovation. As one congressman remarked at the end of the first mission, “These talks opened my mind to the complex issues of innovation.”
The success of the first mission has led to an ongoing collaboration between the Brazil Institute and Interfarma centered on an annual study mission for members of the Brazilian Congress, hosted at various U.S. and U.K. institutions of higher education and research. To date, over fifty federal deputies and senators, including majority and minority leaders and presidents of parliamentary committees with jurisdiction over areas that are relevant to innovation, have participated in these study missions at the Wilson Center, the United States Department of State, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the London King’s College Brazil Institute, and the Institute of the Americas at the University of California San Diego.
In 2014, the Brazil Institute published The Brazilian Congress at the Frontier of Innovation, showcasing a selection of lectures from the 2011-2013 study missions as well as testimonials of researchers and entrepreneurial scientists on the importance of innovation in science and technology. In June 2018, the Brazil Institute and Interfarma published a second report, titled Novos Caminhos para a Inovação, highlighting lessons and key recommendations drawn from the 2015-2017 study missions. The report, authored by Fernanda De Negri, will be published in English later this year.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of Brazil (Interfarma) is a non-profit industry association that represents the companies and researchers in Brazil who develop scientific and technological research in the health and pharmaceutical industries. Founded in 1990, the association currently has forty corporate members. Its mission is the promotion of an environment conducive to investments in innovation, recognizing that innovation plays a critical role in fostering economic development.


In April 2011, eighteen members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate took part in the First Brazilian Congressional Study Mission. Legislators attended a series of conferences on fostering innovation and best practices in R&D, hosted at the Wilson Center and the Department of State in Washington, DC, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA.



The Second Brazilian Congressional Study Mission, with eleven senators and federal deputies in attendance, occurred in April 2012 in Europe. It opened with a seminar hosted by the King’s College London Brazil Institute, focused on the commercialization and application of new technologies and processes available in the market. Panel discussions included innovation in the United Kingdom and the international politics of intellectual property.



The Third Mission, with seven senators and federal deputies in attendance, took place at the Institute of the Americas at the University of California-San Diego. Legislators participated in panels discussing a range of issues, including how to take innovation from the lab to the marketplace and the relationship between innovation and universities. They also visited several R&D centers in San Diego and Los Angeles, including the Scripps Research Institute, to gain a sense for how best practices can be implemented in real laboratories.



The Fourth Congressional Study Mission took place at the Institute of the Americas at the University of California-San Diego and at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. The senators and deputies on the mission attended discussions on a number of issues critical to pharmaceutical innovation, including on clinical trials, genetic testing, and the passage of the U.S. Rare Diseases and Orphan Drug Act. Legislators also visited two pharmaceutical labs to view best practices in action: the Janssen Research & Development Center in San Deigo, and the AstraZeneca Research & Development Center in Maryland.



In the fifth installment, in partnership with Interfarma, Google Brasil and the Institute of the Americas at UC-San Diego, the delegation returned to California to learn about the innovation hubs of Sillicon Valley. Legislators participated in panels on the relationship between business and academic research; tech transfer and intellectual property; innovation as a public good; and using technology in elementary education, among other topics. Mission members also visited Google headquarters and the R&D labs of Genetech, Bayer (including touring Bayer’s CoLaborator, a start-up incubator), and Abbot Laboratories.



The Sixth Mission will take place in April 2017, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA and the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Additional information will be posted to the Brazil Institute website as it becomes available.