Brazil: A high-tech hot spot for innovation and investment -

Brazil: A high-tech hot spot for innovation and investment

Brazil will surely be one of the most talked-about countries on earth over the course of the next decade as it hosts both the World Cup and Olympic Games. Equally impressive, it has risen to become the world’s eighth-largest economy (predicted to join the top five by 2030), and a charter member of what are known as the “BRIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) that are all on the cusp of rapid economic expansion.

In addition to its well-known strengths in renewable energy, raw materials, agriculture, oil, and the aviation industry, Brazil is fast becoming a major player in electronics. Brazil’s forward-looking elected officials have teamed with its world-class universities to spur development of technology centers throughout the country, a model exemplified by Belo Horizonte in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais (west of Rio de Janeiro), and its highly regarded university, UFMG (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais).

Since opening Jasper’s Belo Horizonte R&D Center in 2006 we have tripled our staff, many recruited directly from UFMG, my alma mater , and one of Brazil’s most respected universities. Recognized by the government and society as having one of the top Computer Science undergraduate and graduate programs in the country, UFMG has a phenomenal teaching staff trained at leading institutions throughout the world including Stanford, CMU, Oxford, Princeton, and UCLA, to name a few. The level of technical talent available here today compares favorably with teams I’ve led during a long career in the United States, giving Brazil a well-deserved reputation as a computer science and electronics center of excellence.

The results of having created this world-class educational infrastructure are now bearing fruit: The country’s first, all-Brazilian semiconductor manufacturing facility is now in production; IBM selected Brazil as the site of its first new research facility in 12 years; Brazil accounts for nearly half of all IT spending in South America, and the government recently announced an ambitious plan to expand broadband service throughout the land.

Equally notable is the country’s success in attracting high-profile technology companies doing software, consumer electronics, Internet infrastructure and semiconductor development. Brazil’s high-tech business sector is poised for rapid growth as government and multinational firms (ARM, Freescale, Google, Intel among others) increase their investments, which will naturally lead to the next generation of local spinoff companies. To understand what is attracting so much interest and capital, let’s look at a statistical snapshot of Brazil:

● 200 million tech-savvy consumers
● 189 million installed mobile phones
● Exploding demand for PCs (in five years grew from 3 million units to more than 14 million)
● Steep increase in Internet usage
● 85% of electricity generated from renewable sources
● World’s third-largest stock exchange
● Second only to China as most favored destination for private equity investment in emerging markets

All in all, it’s a great climate for business, but of course there are minuses. The Samba beat may keep some awake during Carnaval (intentional), and a nearly 7,500-kilometer coastline (breathtakingly beautiful) could prove to be a distraction for even the most focused engineer. Those things aside, Brazil is a land of great people and great opportunity, ready to take its place as a global leader and high-tech hot spot for innovation and investment.

About the author:
Dr. Coelho is vice president of engineering for Jasper Design Automation Inc. and manages R&D for advanced formal verification product development, and is a professor on leave at the Computer Science Department at UFMG.

Prior to Jasper he held technical and management positions in several U.S. companies including Integrated Information Technology, and Verplex where he directed the BlackTie team and was responsible for the development of OVL. He has also founded several successful startups, and was a counselor with FirCapital Partners in startup strategy and technology.

Dr. Coelho has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and masters in computer science from UFMG; a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from Stanford; and an MBA from IBMEC/MG.

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