Swiss delegation led by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter travels to Brazil to discuss health and scientific cooperation

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Bern, 24.08.2010 - From 25-30 August, a high-ranking scientific delegation led by Federal Council Didier Burkhalter will be travelling to Brazil for the purpose of consolidating relations between the two countries. In the various interviews and visits scheduled to take place in Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the delegation will focus on deepening research cooperation and holding discussions in the field of health. Switzerland considers Brazil to be one of the non-EU priority countries for research cooperation as well as a major player in international negotiations on health.

In 2008, Switzerland and Brazil signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a strategic partnership between the two countries. One of the items included in this strategic partnership was a bilateral agreement on scientific and technological cooperation, which was signed in 2009. The official visit to Brazil is chiefly intended to consolidate the bilateral cooperation programme, decide what subsequent steps need to be taken and to stimulate future cooperation initiatives by establishing direct contacts with key participants in the science and technology field.

In the area of health, discussions will also cover consolidation of bilateral relations, particularly cooperation between the two countries within the Executive Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO). Finally, discussions will focus on closer relations between key health institutions in both countries.

Federal Councillor Burkhalter will be travelling to Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo with a high-ranking delegation comprised of representatives from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Innovation Promotion Agency (CTI), the ETH domain, Swiss higher education institutions (HEIs) and other Swiss research institutes. Visits have been scheduled to leading Brazilian HEIs as well as to major research grant institutions in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

In Brasilia, Federal Councillor Burkhalter will be meeting with the Brazil‘s Minister of Science and Technology Sergio Rezende, Brazil’s Minister of Health José Gomes Temporão and Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations Celso Amorim. Discussions will be centred on bilateral relations, particularly current bilateral research cooperation mechanisms and the possible content of these mechanisms in the future.

In Rio de Janeiro, a visit has been scheduled to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), which is Brazil‘s largest health institution. The highlights of this visit will be discussions with Brazil’s Minister of Health Temporão as well as the opening of a Brazilian-Swiss symposium devoted to the theme, ‘Challenges for Metropolitan Cities in the 21st Century’. This symposium will be chaired by Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). In São Paulo, an official ceremony will take place during which representatives of Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) will donate their Blue Gene supercomputer to Brazil‘s Minister of education Haddad. This supercomputer will be installed at the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience, which is one of Brazil’s most innovative research institutes.

During last year‘s official visit to Switzerland by Brazil’s Minister of Science and Technology Sergio Rezende, a bilateral agreement was signed to encourage greater exchanges between scientists and to set aside grant funding for joint research projects. The corresponding action plan provides for four priority research fields (Health, Neuroscience, Energy and Environment), specific funding instruments (joint research projects, postdoctoral student exchange and faculty exchange) and matching funds for the period 2010-2011.

The fist call for joint project proposals was issued by both Leading Houses responsible for the bilateral research cooperation programme: the EPFL on the Swiss side and National Council for Scientific and Technological Development on the Brazilian side. During this two-year period, ten JRPs will receive grant funding amounting to a total of around CHF 3.6 million (with Switzerland and Brazil each contributing CHF 1.8 million). Four of the JRPs relate to the priority research field Health, four relate to Neuroscience, one to Energy and one to Environment.

Address for enquiries:

Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA)
General Secretariat
Jean-Marc Crevoisier, Head of Communications
Phone: +41 79 763 84 10

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