Innovation Tour

Patricia and Cesar are a married Brazilian couple that share a passion for travelling and exploring the world. This passion was not abandoned even after the birth of their now three-year-old son. But their current trip is a different one. It is a lengthy tour through the United States with a single focus: innovation. This is another passion of Patricia and Cesar, and one they are professionally involved with.

Cesar has worked in the Brazilian real estate sector for more than thirty years running Mello Imoveis, a company founded by his father over fifty years ago. One of his biggest challenges to date started fourteen years ago when his company was selected to transform and sell a 1.5 million square meter area located in São José dos Campos, a city located in the São Paulo countryside.
Though a culture of innovation had been initiated in this city by the creation of the Aeronautics Technical Center (CTA) in 1942 under the MIT incentive that lead to the creation of Embraer and a high-tech aerospace cluster, there had been no urban project to foster an organized innovative ecosystem.

Once this need was identified, Cesar initiated a master plan project to promote the deployment of a high technology industrial district. The first step was to locate large companies that would serve as anchors. The first two major companies to answer this call were from the US: Solectron Corporation from the eletronic sector bought 188.000 m2, and Parker Hannifin Corporation which is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, bought 82.000 m2.

This project was soon changed once the city was chosen to hold a science park model under a state public policy called System of Technology Parks. Cesar was then challenged to direct part of the land to the implementation of the São José dos Campos Science Park launched in 2008.

The science park, one of the most important in Brazil, is thus located in an area that was sold by Cesar to the local government, but there still is remaining land reserved for expansion.


Patricia, though mainly focusing on academia, had initially worked as an advocate for a period of ten years. This all inclusive background would serve her well as she assisted Cesar with various legal and juridical issues related to the consolidation of the science park.

Inspired by these challenges, Patricia began wondering how the Brazilian legal system understood such matters. As she was unaware of any other organization that coordinated the interests of academia, the private sector, and the government in this way, she decided to develop a case study under the Masters Program in Law and Development at the FGV Law School to study the São José dos Campos Science Park in order to better understand the legal aspects of this organization.

Today, six years later, this science park’s implementation phase has been completed, and attracts research concerns from different disciplines such as energy, health, sanitation, information technology, urban mobility, and especially spatial and aeronautical defense. There are now fifty educational institutions with a student population of 4000 that utilize three campuses, as well as five technological development centers with a workforce of 4000 people. So far, a total of 800m dollars have been invested in this project. This number may multiple fast.
This is the only science park in the world that has attracted research personnel from the three leading aeronautical industries: Boeing, Airbus and Embraer. As such, it is expected that this science park will quickly become one the largest technological centers in the aerospace and defense area.

As Cesar originally anticipated, the science park is now demanding even more space for expansion. Thus, the project to utilize the remaining area reserved for this purpose has initiated. He expects this additional space to hold technological industries, labs, commercial ventures, and residences, and is now focused on designing this space to accommodate the various interested parties. However, as there are no references in Brazil to follow, Cesar decided to come to the United States to inspire his project.

During a meeting with the renowned

Professor Henry Etzkowitz in Palo Alto, Cesar and Patricia were advised to think beyond a beautiful urban design with perfect buildings and all inclusive facilities. Though these considerations are, of course, essential, one also has to cultivate a strong academic environment, a high-quality living environment to keep the workforce close to the science park, and a legal structure able to administer the different interests of the players that inspired his Triple Helix theory.

Patricia’s research presumes such necessities. The main argument is that development depends on an innovative, system-based environment, meaning that the different players (academia, the private sector, the government) have to interact and work together in a synergistic fashion. The Brazilian government was especially stressed in her research, since it is the player most interested in the international competitiveness that innovation provides, is the most patient for a return on investment, and is the articulator to potential future players. In light of this, the most important challenge is coming up with a legal model to serve these complex interests. Thus, what role should the government play, how should the legal system deal with innovative organizations such as these, and how will these factors effect science park performance?

The São José dos Campos Science Park case study is revealing interesting results. The aerospace culture and additional institutions created by the state, the alignment of public policies that institutionally structure this innovative ecosystem, and a governance that guarantees the enforcement of its decisions, are some of the factors that contribute to its success. Some formal and institutional problems, however, are also present. These include the lack of a legal model to best suit its formal existence, and a dearth of political autonomy.

Here are some of the specific motivations that inspired the couple to begin their innovative tour of the United States:

– The aerospace cluster where the project is located was launched in partnership with MIT in early 1940s, and so the São José dos Campos Science
– Park’s conception is closely tied to this;
– The park’s first project counted on two US enterprises as first partners, which guaranteed that the environment could attend innovative needs in accordance with the vision originally conceived in the US;
– The inspiration for science parks had their origin in Silicon Valley, the world’s first model of this kind;
– The main researchers addressing innovative ecosystems, including the Triple Helix academics that inspired science park projects, are in the US;
– The United States is now discovering and developing the entitled Districts of Innovation (third generation science parks). This is a model that has inspired Cesar in his project;
– The United States counts on real estate developers specialized in developing those Innovation Districts;
– The FGV Law School where Patricia studies, provides incentives to researchers to participate in exchange programs and has established partnerships with various schools in the US. One of these, the University of Wisconsin, invited Patricia during a conference where she presented part of her research to a visiting scholar program on the Madison campus. They found out that this campus, together with its Research Park, hold the elements that an Innovation District should have. This served as an important inspiration to Cesar’s project;
– Patricia was accepted to join a PhD program next year, and is being encouraged to further her studies so as to propose a possible Brazilian Legal Model for Science Parks. This would be developed in a comparative way with other countries beginning with the experiences that have been taking place in the USA.
In summary, Patricia and Cesar’s US adventure not only satisfies their passion for travel but also their passion for innovation, by allowing them to see US Districts of Innovation first hand as well as personally interact with resources that have aided and inspired them in their work. Before returning to Brazil in January 2015, they will visit at least ten North-American States and several innovation ecosystems.
Patricia Alencar Silva Mello
FGV Law School
Sao Paulo, Brazil
*email address protected*