Inova-Unicamp – a Brazilian role model for how to create innovation at a public university

In the last 15 years, co-creation and system Innovation have developed fast in Brazil. Industries and Universities are trying to find new forms to work together. One of the universities which have succeeded in this area is the University of...

In the last 15 years, co-creation and system Innovation have developed fast in Brazil. Industries and Universities are trying to find new forms to work together. One of the universities which have succeeded in this area is the University of Campinas (Unicamp) at São Paulo State which often appears in the top of the ranking of universities in Brazil, when it comes to innovation and interaction with the industry. The key success factor is the location of the university (in the middle of an industry intensive area); engagement with the industry through several yearly events; matchmaking for researchers and industry with support and help in one place; need for an intermediator to deal with Brazilian bureaucracy; and finally, the involvement of market-oriented staff which is not common in many other innovation offices where most staff are academics or students.

Inova: Innovation Agency

Unicamp, was one of the first universities to create an innovation office according to the innovation law from 2004. The office is called Inova-Unicamp. Their main tasks are:

  • Intellectual property rights: Take care of questions about Intellectual property and patents for the university. They have developed a well-working method and qualifications of how to manage intellectual property rights and patents and have all the needed competence and skills in-house.
  • Partnerships: Manage all contracts between the researchers at the university and companies (project for cooperation, using of a patent-license etc.).  This task is also involves matchmaking between industry and researchers.
  • Entrepreneurship: Manage the scientific park with incubators, start-ups and research labs at the campus.
  • Institutional Relation and Communication: Organizing different events to promote innovation and collaboration between university and industry and also promotion of entrepreneurship in the education.

Unicamp has 1027 patents approved, of which 130 are in use and generates incomes.

Support and training

For students and teachers, the Unicamp innovation office has implemented several courses in the education to promote entrepreneurship , however most of the support for entrepreneurship for the broader group of actor (students, alumni, research staff, other staff, startups etc.) is obtained through the Science and Technology Park at the Unicamp campus. Seven large companies have their labs here (e.g. IBM, Samsung). The Science and Technology Park has 21 small companies in incubators and 12 start-ups at the campus.

One question is how to change the mentality of many of the researchers who think that having a good idea and a patent is enough for a new product to reach the market. It is a big challenge to introduce the entrepreneurial aspects, training and education of how to proceed from having an invention to bringing it to the market.

Caption: Hans Olof (utsi)

Science and Technological Park

A maybe even bigger challenges is however to attract investors to overcome the so-called valley of dead. There are no financial instruments to bridge the Valley of Death at the Unicamp but the Science and Technology Park with its infrastructure is however a favorable environment to attract investors.

It should also be mentioned that associated companies from Unicamp have passed 700. The associated companies are companies whose founders, or current partners, have been linked to the university as students, teachers, employees or likewise. Those companies have generated more than 30.000 jobs and an annual invoicing of 1 billion USD.


Unicamp represents 8 percent of the academic research in Brazil, 1 percent of national graduate studies and maintain the leadership among Brazilian universities in terms of patents per researcher. The university leads the national ranking per capita of scientific publications in cataloged international journals. If academic production is calculated by the performance of each researcher, Unicamp is currently the most productive Brazilian university.

Innovation Law

Looking back, there have not been a strong tradition of collaboration between the industry and the universities in Brazil. Until 2004, it was difficult for the researchers to work with the industry as they had their time dedicated to the university and thereby was hindered to legally work in projects with the industry. Since 2004, several laws were implemented (as the Innovation Law) to encourage and facilitate this cooperation to enhance the innovation system. Now, it is by law demanded that all universities have a NIT (core of technological innovation) which is responsible of the communication between the universities and industries as well as the area of patent and intellectual property rights. This has provided the researchers with the possibility of doing outside consultancies to industries as well as working together in projects or create new startups.

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Ana Carolina Bussacos & Jacob Paulsen