In June, the IDB - Inter-American Development Bank launched the document “Responses to COVID-19: science, innovation and productive development” and summarizes that the success of government policies in the region “will be greater where there are strategic investments in innovation, productivity and science - area from which the answer to this crisis will come ”.
The document takes for granted the occurrence of a new pandemic and talks several times about the "new normal" that we will now live because of the current pandemic. In this new scenario, digitalization and science play a key role, especially considering that we will have to respond more quickly to pandemics that are on their way to come.
As I am friend of several people who live inside the academic World and many others who are struggling in their own business (myself included), I feel that I have some property to talk about some issues covered in the document, the "new normal" being something that intrigues me a lot and in general it doesn't convince me much. Even so, this document presented me several real trends and made me very optimistic about the direction that several governments in the region are taking.
In a country like Brazil, where science has been almost completely neglected, this will be an immense challenge. Another challenge is to overcome excessive bureaucratization and an extremely hostile business environment for opening, maintaining and closing companies. The report points out that measures related to the expansion of financing and agility in the approval of new products will be decisive for us to be more prepared for this type of situation in the future, and with good reason.
Several times, I have witnessed companies suffering in the skin with the excessive delay for the consent of the competent bodies, either of their physical installations or of new products, generating costs that by themselves would already make several companies (mainly innovative) unfeasible to even exist, or force them to look for investors or high-cost financing to try to get off the ground.
Development agencies exist and are carrying out their work to a certain extent, but they are not enough to enable the existence of a company with all its complexity. The university does not prepare researchers to work in this environment, and more than anything, the environment should be adequate and not the opposite.
The document points out as a positive move the mobilization of regional governments to digitize their services and improve the population's access to them, and they hope that this will be a movement that will continue and be strengthened in the post-pandemic.
The unnecessary bureaucratization in Brazil is historical, probably due to a cultural trait of always trying to give the famous “Brazilian way” and the institutionalization of corruption, but there are countless examples that the frauds are ongoing (see the 67 thousand people who received emergency assistance without needing), however bureaucratic the process may be.
Whatever the solution, it is more than proven that moving away from technology and demanding that the person be personally in public buildings to have access to government services does not solve the problem.
The document suggests investing in science and increasing productivity and productive capacity while respecting environmental sustainability and social inclusion as essential pillars of the process. Although very little is said about what could be done in this regard, personally, this is always my biggest concern.
We have some more examples in the history of the world to teach us how the exhaustion of natural resources and the impoverishment of the population can negatively impact the development of a nation. What we see are nations that have outsourced this impact to be among the largest economies in the world today or that have sacrificed a large part of their population and account in lost lives the today's economic success. There is no miracle.
In a region where the population has been electing governments that place capital above all other pillars of growth, it is clear that the challenges are many and will require a huge effort on the part of governments and a lot of awareness on the part of the population.
I would really like to see a "new normal" that includes a healthy, simplified and FAIR business environment above all, where science is organized towards common goals and valued, and technology is a permanent part of everyone's life, and that our region could grow together and in a sustainable way, I see some trends going in that direction, but I still have a hard time believing that we are experiencing something like a disruption right now.