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Nearly 300 people met from November 29th to December 1st at the Ruth Cardoso Cultural Expo Center in Maceió, Alagoas State, for the 35th annual meeting of the National Board of Foundations to Support Institutions of Higher Learning and Scientific and Technological Research (CONFIES). According to the University Foundation for Extension and Research Development (FUNDEPES), which hosted the meeting in 2017, the number of participants was a record when compared to previous editions.

The main topic of debate in this edition was self-regulation by research support foundations. The activities – thematic roundtables, workshops, and debates – aimed to develop a source document that would later be drafted as a bill of law. On the first evening, during the event’s opening ceremony, a memorandum of understanding on self-regulation of research support foundations was signed in the presence of representatives from the Federal Comptroller’s Office, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communication, the Forum on Education of the National Attorney General’s Office, and CONFIES president Fernando Peregrino.

“An important step was taken towards backing a strategy that has been designed by the president of CONFIES, Fernando Peregrino, to seek dialogue with the oversight agencies in helping them understand the unease resulting from excessively bureaucratic constraints and how this affects our institutions’ performance,” commented Hayne Felipe da Silva, Executive Director of FIOTEC, who was attending a CONFIES meeting for the first time.

Hayne cited other discussions on the need to grant more administrative and financial autonomy to research support foundations. The director referred to the creation of endowment funds, very common in the United States and United Kingdom, providing for donations from private companies and alumni in the case of institutions affiliated with universities. But he also warned that caution is necessary for such benefits not to result in a loss of existing gains. “The dean of the Federal University of the ABC Paulista cautioned that the funds coming from any future donations should not be used as an excuse to cut the existing budget for research foundations.”

In addition to the executive director, the 35th meeting of CONFIES was also attended by the technical director of FIOTEC, Mariana Medeiros, the foundation’s general manager, Adilson Santos, managers of Human Resources, Information Technology, and Financial and Accounting, Raquel Raad, Evandro Maroni, and Alexandre Valinoti, respectively, and Marianna Magalhães, attorney from the Legal Department.

Substantial contributions to the debates

As in previous editions, FIOTEC participated in the forums for Information Technology and the College of Attorneys. Evandro Maroni was in charge of presenting the tools and solutions used by the foundation for more efficient services provided to FIOCRUZ.

Marianna Magalhães, FIOTEC’s representative in the forum of the College of Attorneys, also chaired a workshop that discussed the impacts of Brazil’s labor reform in the community of research support foundations. Magalhães reported that she had made a presentation on the same topic in the forum, but that participation by representatives from other foundations motivated a different approach during the workshop.

“The questions and situations raised by colleagues from other foundations forced me to address other topics that were not originally planned, but this was excellent. Since FIOTEC has contracts with many professional in a wide variety of situations, I had a lot of experience to share. My counterparts from the other foundations mentioned different problems that we don’t face here at FIOTEC. And even in conversations following the workshops, they motivated us to take new issues into account in our work related to the new labor legislation,” the attorney concluded.