By Filipe Pacheco
The Brazilian IT sector has come under the spotlight ever since the federal government set aside USD $2.25 billion to invest in the country’s technology industry. With FDI inflows increasing, Brazil has managed to free up some cash in order to stimulate key economic growth industries, and technology – especially software - is starting to rise in stature as a result. Nearly ten years ago, innovation in Brazil was limited to few foreign multinationals like SAP and IBM and established universities like Unicamp and UFSCar. The Latin American country has come a long way in the past few years, with more and more foreign multinationals trying to tap into its abundant natural resources and the domestic consumer market.
Today there are large numbers of IT companies writing software for a variety of industries and a variety of customers. Many smaller entrepreneurs are tying up with government agencies to develop software while their bigger counterparts have continued to provide IT solutions to local businesses.
Consinco is one good example of how to diversifying into software. Founded in 1990, Consinco sold cars for several years before a group of IT professionals turned it into a software maker. With 150 clients in 19 States across the country, Consinco has now gained a strong foothold in the Brazilian IT market.
Beyond São Paulo and Rio
Today, technological innovation is no longer limited to bigger cities like São Paulo and Rio. Innovation can be found even in several smaller cities in remote corners of Brazil.
Let us start with Ribeirão Preto, a tiny town 400 km away from São Paulo. Ribeirão is nicknamed “Brazilian California” because of a combination of an economy based on agro-business and high technology. Here is a technology park called Parque Tecnológico de Ribeirão Preto, which develops software catering to the need of health, biotechnology and bio-energy industries.
Florianópolis , capital city of the state of Santa Catarina, is also growing in popularity with software companies that develop IT solutions for the biotechnology industry. According to a recent study, conducted by a local association of IT companies, as many as 10,000 people are working in the software industry in the state, with about 36 percent of them residing in Florianópolis.
Cities like Salvador and Recife, in the Northeastern corner of Brazil, are also home to a considerable number of IT companies, many of whom offer services to local industries. Smaller cities like Campinas, Recife, Curitiba, São Carlos and São Leopoldo are also finding increasing number of people launching businesses in IT sector.
One of the main challenges facing businesses in Brazil today is finding qualified workers willing to work for competitive salary. According to an official data from Technology & Innovation Ministry, Brazil’s IT sector has employed about 1.2 million people and is on pace to generate 900,000 new jobs by the year 2022. It is, however, difficult to answer how Brazil will pull together enough skilled laborers to meet the needs of the high-tech industry.
Fostering Growth & Innovation
Both government agencies and private citizens are continuously trying to foster a start-up culture in the country. ‘Brazilian Innovators’ is one such example. Launched by Bedy Yang, a Chinese-Brazilian entrepreneur, Brazilian Innovators helps bring together thousands of entrepreneurs and investors under one roof. The group has now created a network of over 3000 entrepreneurs and investors as part of its aim to help educated youths launch a business of their own in the technology sector.
Young and talented professionals returning from Europe and the United States are also seeking their share in Brazil’s economic growth. For example, with financial backing from venture capitalists, Ben Lowenstein and Lee Jacobs launched Colingo, a web-based English teaching company targeting English learners in Brazil. Colingo’s is a great success story. It became a popular ‘online English school’ in a span of one year.