Ted Hewitt - University Affairs, 05/09/2012

Reflecting the growing interest in Brazil – Canada’s third-largest trading partner in the Americas –30 presidents of Canadian universities recently participated in a delegation to that country organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The aim was to promote Canadian excellence in research, highlight Canada’s academic “brand” and encourage the formation of strong linkages between Canadian and Brazilian postsecondary institutions. Underscoring the importance of this venture was the fact that it was led by the Governor General of Canada, and former university president, David Johnston.

Brazil is a logical target for a venture of this scope. With a population of nearly 200 million, it boasts a potentially huge market of Canada-bound undergraduate and graduate students. Further, it possesses what is widely acknowledged to be the most sophisticated innovation system in Latin America, with home-grown technology – much of it developed in public-sector research labs – driving commercial success in a variety of sectors from aerospace to alternative energy, ocean technologies and pharmaceuticals. Its GDP now exceeds that of the United Kingdom.

During their weeklong visit, the leaders of Canada’s universities attended the Conference of the Americas on International Education in Rio de Janeiro, participated in the Canada-Brazil Innovation Forum in São Paulo and visited one of Brazil’s leading technological universities, along with federal research centres, before heading to Brasília for talks with government leaders and representatives of agencies that fund innovation and student mobility.


Photo courtesy of Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR