Google has bolstered its operation in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte with the unveiling of a new and expansive facility for its engineering center, which is the first of its kind for the Silicon Valley giant in Latin America.
The site has been dedicated to the research, development, and statistical control of searches. The expansion proves that Google has faith in Brazilian tech talent, with local newspapers claiming that it strengthens the city’s image as the Brazilian Silicon Valley.
Belo Horizonte is among the largest cities in Brazil, after São Paulo and Rio de Jeneiro, and it is home to a large number of IT and biotechnology firms. Google’s other office in Brazil is in São Paulo, where sales and marketing professionals work.
The tech world giant came to Belo Horizonte in 2005 when it acquired Akwan, a local search engine, created by a group of teachers from UFMG, a federal university, focused on customers and companies.
Google has since invested more than $200 million in Belo Horizonte alone, where more than 100 technology professionals are working. The engineering center is headed by Berthier Ribeiro-Neto, a former professor and the founder of Akwan.
Some reports say Google will double the headcount at the center over the coming months.
Why the internet giant chose Belo Horizonte for setting up its engineering center is because the state of Minas Gerais, whose capital is Belo Horizonte, is home to a cluster of more than 200 tech companies. Google thinks it can easily find tech workers willing to work for it there.
The Silicon Valley giant has even offered to help Brazil give internet access to people living in the remote Amazon region. Google’s Loon Project uses stratospheric balloons to bring internet to mobile phones and tablets in regions where laying fiber optic cables is not economically feasible.