THE TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION SCENARIO IN BRAZIL
We need to take a new step and be part of the creative industry
Since last century, Brazil has designed several policies in order to play a relevant role in the strategic industry. In fact, it has been successful in some cases, such as agribusiness, aeronautics, and the oil and gas industry. We have grown up hearing about Embraer, Petrobras and Embrapa. Surely we have flown in Embraer jets, maybe using fuel produced by Petrobras, and, almost definitely, we have eaten food grown out of seeds produced with the technology developed by Embrapa.
But now we need to take another step and be part of the industry that now creates many jobs; clean, high-paying jobs: the creative industry.
When we talk about creative industry, the Silicon Valley is always the region that comes to mind. This is only natural, due to the force of the ecosystem that it possesses, as well as the technology giants it has created. Just to mention the most recent and well under the spotlight giants Apple and Google, with Market values of over US$ 700 billion and US$ 300 billion, respectively.
However, we now see, all over the world, the emergence of prototypes of what is now the Silicon Valley. In various maturity and relevance levels for their countries, but in a way, almost as vibrant as the Silicon Valley. Just to name a few of those, we now have Boston, London and Israel. And why not to mention Beijing and Bangalore?
Brazil is not out of the picture! Even though some always see the glass as half empty, we have a lot to say about this new economical context… Yes, we think that our initial attempts to get in this scenario were a bit cumbersome. History, if I may say so, starts around the mid 1980’s, when Brazil was a big power, with market reserves. This was precisely in 1984. The reserve prevented the Brazilians, the ones who were here in Brazil, from having access to informatics products that were not produced here in Brazil…. Looking backwards, it is easy to see how customers were penalized and how much this policy delayed the country’s entry in a global production chain of informatics products….
But we have learned our lesson… in 1993, with the so called Informatics Law, we took a great step. The Market was gradually opened to global organizations that would arrive here to produce and sell their goods for the local market (also). More importantly, a set of (great) benefits was created for those who invested in Research and Development. Whether the policy is a success or not is still controversial, but we can say that the main players in this industry are currently in Brazil.
The electronics trade balance, however, remains negative. It has surpassed the US$ 30 billion mark and there are no signs of reduction.
There was a small reduction last year, but the economy was not doing very well and the consumption of the main goods was reduced… This was not due to the increase in our efficiency (or auto sufficiency in the sector).
However, it is undeniable that research laws and incentives in the country in the last decade are far from being a total failure. The research investments promoted by the legal framework (more than R$50 billion were obtained over the last decade from the Law of Good and Informatics Law alone) have propelled the creation of important technological parks in the country. As a result, we now have parks that cooperate with the local and global industry, providing (and exporting, through the global participants) innovative solutions built with the local knowledge and human capital.
Below we provide some numbers:
1- Tecnopuc, located in Porto Alegre, counts with over 6 thousand engineers and researchers in information and communication sciences;
2- UFRJ’s Technological park, in Rio de Janeiro, that focuses on the Gas and Oil Industry and possesses over 40 organizations and 3 research and development centres belonging to global enterprises: EMC, Siemens and GE;
3- The São Pedro Valley, located in Belo Horizonte, that focuses on the creation of new tech-based organizations and counts with 7 incubators and 4 accelerators;
4- The Porto Digital in Recife.
We need to open a parenthesis for Porto Digital. I also need to remark that I am there, and intend to stay there! Porto Digital is one of the most vibrant parks we have! Created less than fifteen years ago, from an articulation that involved the State government, Mayor’s office and civil organizations, the park counts with over 500 entrepreneurs, over 7 thousand direct jobs and 250 organizations that together have a yearly revenue of over 1 billion reais.
There originated enterprises such as Livox, who developed the best communicator for people with cerebral palsy, according to the United Nations; Tempest, who has offices in London and provides services against Cyber attacks all over the world; SiliconReef, who designs integrated circuits to increase the efficiency of solar panels. It is there, also, that CESAR is located. Recognized and present all over Brazil (besides its headquarters in Recife, CESAR has offices in Curitiba, Sorocaba and Manaus) it is a centre that counts with over 600 people and gives important contributions to the consumer electronics industry, agribusiness and social robotics.
In summary, we have technological parks that count with abundant technology and talent that provide innovative solutions to global organizations, for (in most cases) the local market. It is time for a new step, to rethink how to advance, to finish what we thought when we started the insertion move in this industry: to build enterprises and products for the global markets from our parks.