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How Education and Hard Work Built Up Brazil's Silicon Valley PDF Print E-mail
2007 - February 2007
Written by Débora Rubin   
Wednesday, 28 February 2007 07:00

Brazil's Electronics Valley The year was 1959. The place, Santa Rita do Sapucaí, a city in southeastern Brazil. The main character in the story is Sinhá Moreira, a very wealthy woman with good connections and a lot of vision. Upon returning from a trip to Japan, in the 1950s, Sinhá Moreira was enchanted with how technologically advanced that country was - despite just having suffered the horrors of the Second World War, the country was already producing technology at full blast.

Inspired, Sinhá established the first electronics graduate school in Latin America, the Technical School of Electronics (ETE). The seed had been planted.

Presently, Santa Rita is one of the country's most successful technology hubs, as it harbors 120 companies that account for 60% of the city's GDP and employ nearly half the economically active population in Santa Rita.

And if the city is now an example of a virtually self-sustaining economy, this is due to the investments in education. Six years after Sinhá Moreira's pioneering initiative, the National Institute of Communications (Inatel) was established.

Therefore, students who graduated from high school no longer had to leave town in order to go to college. Nowadays, Inatel even offers master's courses in the field. Finally, the early 1970s saw the inauguration of the Administration and Computing College (FAI).

Now the city could produce not only ingenious creators, but also business managers with an enterprising spirit. The foundation was laid for what is now known as Electronics Valley.

But it was not until the 1980s that the interaction between the academic and business realms began to bear fruit. "We realized that we were forming great engineers, but we were not absorbing that supply of brains. They would leave for São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or even to foreign countries," according to Navantino Dionízio Barbosa Filho, who was the director of Inatel between 1985 and 1990.

"That was when the idea came up, from talks between the schools and the public administration at that time, to do something that would create jobs in the city, so the city could grow, driven by the natural vocation that the schools provided students."

Navantino explains that, as a director, he started hearing about students who created products in precarious conditions, "in their own fraternities," and then would sell them to each other or to relatives.

"When we caught up, there were more than 20 surprising initiatives that we were not even aware of," he says.

That was when they had the idea of organizing a trade show for the industry, in which anyone could showcase their products, including students with their inventions worthy of Gyro Gearloose (the Disney character). The trade show was so successful that it is now a tradition in the city. At that time, Santa Rita had no more than five companies.

The next step was participation in a sector fair in São Paulo. With the help of a friend in advertising, a small group that included professors, businessmen and politicians created the slogan Electronics Valley, clearly inspired on the American Silicon Valley.

During the fair, they gave out folders announcing that the city hall was offering benefits to companies prepared to move there. A climate of euphoria was established. Companies started turning up, papers wrote articles about the city and what began with a school inspired on the Japanese model really became the Electronics Valley.

Inatel soon noticed that it would have to make some changes if it wanted to keep its students in the city. An incubator was established and students also started having classes turned to entrepreneurship.

"Today, students do not leave as simple engineers. They leave with knowledge of legislation, they need to know how to make a business plan, ready to be an employee or businessman," stated Navantino.

A reference in telecommunications, the college has already graduated around 5,000 students since it was established. The monthly fee is high for Brazilian standards, 950 reais (around US$ 460). Still, the college attracts people from all around Brazil. "And we have scholarship programs," stated Navantino, who is still a professor at the college.

Task Force

Up to 2006, there were 120 companies in the Valley. Together, they had revenues of 650 million reais (US$ 310 million). Today, according to the Science and Technology Secretary at the city, Elias Kallás, there are already over 25 companies, some are still being implemented. Of this total, most are micro and small companies. Few are large, around fifteen, at the most.

One of the parts played by the city hall, says Kallás, is sponsoring the birth and entry of new companies in the city. "And we always prioritize micro and small companies. Not that large companies are not welcome. But they are more sensitive to crises. If a company with 1,500 employees goes broke in a city like this one, it is a great tragedy," explained Kallás.

The city hall also has its own incubators. The first, established in 1999, focuses mainly on IT (information technology). The second, established in 2006, is turned mainly to electronics. According to Kallás, there are already another two under development, one focussed on software and another on agribusiness.

"If we add our incubators to the Inatel one, we will soon have five cribs for the establishment of companies. As each one houses between 10 and 15 projects, between 50 and 60 new projects may be developed. When considering that each company may spend up to three years in the incubator, it is possible to forecast that in the near future we will have between 10 and 12 new companies per year," estimates the secretary.

Apart from incubators, the mayor of Santa Rita has an ambitious project: the establishment of a Technological Park with over one million square meters. The idea is for it to be "activated" by the companies in the second half of this year. The Park will be built on a farm bought by the city hall 20 kilometers away from the city, close to other cities that also count on Higher Education in the area of technology, among them Pouso Alegre, Itajubá and even the cities of Campinas and São José dos Campos (in the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo).

There are currently already industrial condominiums sponsored by the city hall. But there, companies can only keep their offices until they can structure themselves outside. The maximum period they may stay is three years.

Finally, Kallás says that the city is still lacking a convention center for the Industrial Fair and other events. "We currently use the spaces offered by the schools, but that is not ideal," he says. The city hall has already bought the piece of land for future construction of the center.

Technology Export

Of total annual revenues of the companies in Santa Rita, between 20% and 25% comes from exports. Although it seems like much for a small city, this total is still limited to a small group of companies, mainly the oldest or largest.

In December, however, the Union of Industries of Electric Equipment, Electronics and Similar Products of Electronics Valley (Sindvel) signed an agreement with the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex).

For one year, Sindvel is going to count on the Apex know-how to participate in foreign fairs, trade delegations and training courses for businessmen associated to the union (almost 100% of the companies in the city) to start exporting.

"This year we are going to participate in two great fairs in the United States and in another two in Argentina. Apart from that, we will organize a trade delegation to Brazil's neighboring countries," explained Carlos Henrique Ferreira, vice president at the Sindvel and manager of the export program.

In July, the city will receive two groups of potential buyers, one from Mexico and another from Chile. This is the first time that the Union participates in an initiative of the kind.

According to Ferreira, the focus is on South America for those that are only beginning. This is not just due to the language and the distance, but also because the demands are lower.

"The more traditional companies are already exporting to Europe and the United States, among other countries," stated the Sindvel vice president. Linear Equipamentos, one of the most ancient, established in 1977 and specialized in solutions for transport and distribution of television signals, for example, has been exporting for over 40 years.

According to Ferreira, the intention is to grant to small companies the necessary support so that they can export and, in future, make the hub win new markets, like those of the Arab countries. "We already have quality products and the desire to export," he announces.

Anba - www.anba.com.br



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Comments (34)Add Comment
Interesting !!!!!
written by ch.c., February 28, 2007
But a total 2006 revenue of US$ 310 million for 120 companies, makes an average of Us$ 2,6 million....per company !!!!

Thus talking about a "Silicon Valley" is quite laughable.

The total annual revenues for 120 companies represents ONLY the revenues of 1 SMALL Sillicon Valley company.

Let me have my doubts on the success or the technological advances and knowhow of these 120 companies.
Silicon Valley....Brazil?
written by bo, February 28, 2007
That must be in Rio where Ana got her tits done! smilies/shocked.gif
...
written by GTY, February 28, 2007
More drivel about Brazil's "great economy" currently growing at 2%, the worst in all of South & Latin America. So what? They can use cheap ($350 month) labor to produce a few million wafers and chips. Mexico produces 10 times that. There is no inovation here, just reversed engineered products being made for a local market that can ill afford the products these chips go into. There will never be an export market as long as Mexico and China exist...what a bunch of non sense.
GTY, the retarded
written by A brazilian, February 28, 2007
What retarded things engineers make R$ 350 a month!? Are you out of your mind? First learn which side is East and which side is West, next step is to start reading a little more in order to avoid saying non-sense.

This website is ridiculous, the commends are uninformed, racist or ill intended, the level of the people attending it, with the exception of a very few, is at the level of the stereotypical american redneck. The ch.c loser is from switzerland but a redneck at heart.
...
written by bo, February 28, 2007
written by A brazilian, 2007-02-28 18:42:36

What retarded things engineers make R$ 350 a month!? Are you out of your mind? First learn which side is East and which side is West, next step is to start reading a little more in order to avoid saying non-sense.



...
written by bo, February 28, 2007
Bo, the liar
written by A brazilian, February 28, 2007
Tell me Bo, how much do you think an engineer makes a month?
...
written by GTY, February 28, 2007
Yeah, I am sure EVERYONE that works in your "Silicon Valley" are all engineers even the employees in cleanroom gowns working with hazmat chemicals to produce the chips and wafers that can be made for pennies on the dollar in China. Do you even know how high purity electronic wafers and chips are produced? You moron, we have shipped all these jobs overseas because they are low wage, low skilled. Something Brazil is very good at producing. Yeah, their all engineers...your a rocket scientist. Sound like a teenage poster to me...time to turn off the computer...mommy is calling!
...
written by bo, March 01, 2007
Bo, the liar
written by A brazilian, 2007-02-28 18:51:24

Tell me Bo, how much do you think an engineer makes a month?


It depends on the type of engineer and how much experience he has. Also what part of brazil he's working in as well as which company.

An engineer can make anywhere from 2,000 reais per month up to 12 or 15, depending.
...
written by bo, March 01, 2007
...
written by GTY, 2007-02-28 18:52:18

Yeah, I am sure EVERYONE that works in your "Silicon Valley" are all engineers even the employees in cleanroom gowns working with hazmat chemicals to produce the chips and wafers that can be made for pennies on the dollar in China. Do you even know how high purity electronic wafers and chips are produced? You moron, we have shipped all these jobs overseas because they are low wage, low skilled. Something Brazil is very good at producing. Yeah, their all engineers...your a rocket scientist. Sound like a teenage poster to me...time to turn off the computer...mommy is calling!


It's what I've been saying for a long time GTY. You have these idiots like Abe Razillion and E (I'll do your underage daughter) Harm........on-y. You made a simple statement about the cheap labor, said nothing about "skilled" labor, but our buddy Baghdad Bob insinuated and attempted to make your statement say, "engineers".
Questions
written by Gty, March 01, 2007
How many Brazilian engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
I know the answer!!
written by bo, March 01, 2007
If it's a "government" light bulb it only takes one engineer, but also one apprentice, one accountant, one mid-level beurocrat(with his hand out), and one laywer. Then a group of 5 minimum wage laborers in which one is a woman, she gets to install it, while the other 4 look up her dress.
If Brazil is so irrelevant, and you are here discussing it, your life is likewise irrelevant
written by Alex, March 01, 2007
It may not be China, it may not be the California Silicon Valley, but it is without a question a breath of fresh air in a rarefied economy. And A Brazilian, I wouldn’t worry about the morons who come to this forum to badmouth anything Brazilian. If their countries were so great, they wouldn’t be bothering coming here and giving their s**tty insight on a country that “apparently” they don’t care for.
Wow Alex
written by PPL, March 01, 2007
How profound...you are so insightful, your boyfriend must be very proud.
burp
written by all american, March 01, 2007
how impressive...ok , can you walk and chew gum at the same time?...
Good Connections
written by Ric, March 01, 2007
Are we missing the point of the article? Good Conx are very important in working with computers. The woman had Good Connections. Just this morning I was trying to install a new piece of hardware and had a problem because of bad connections.
As if u americans lived in a perfect world....
written by Free minded guy, March 01, 2007
Well, I'd rather live in an undeveloped country (as you guys refears to us). Than to live in a country whose goverment controll people's minds through media. Everybody knows that americans blindly believe in everything that TV says, and that US television networks show just what the guys that run the country approve. They claim to live in "the land of freedom" but they are not allowed even to think by themselves. They are nothing but poor slaves of their goverment witch, troughout it's history, has killed, manipulated and controlled free people from all-over the world, only to guarantee the interests of an economical elite that finance their political campains.
Free Minded
written by GTY, March 01, 2007
Thanks for your posting; It's what makes our country great. You forgot to mentione that we all drive around in SUV's, guzzle tons of energy and pollute the world...my proud pleasure. That your fat assed President is now kissing Bush's ass just to sell ethanol because your economy is growing a tiny 3% and inflation is again rising in double digits.

How does your government manipulate you?

Cheap beer.
Carnaval
Futbol
Leftist nonsense.
Bolsa Escola
The Beach
A minimum wage of US$350.00 a month.
Public Transportation that is burned up by drug dealers or where passengers are robbed of everything including their hair.
Afforable rice and beans.

I am sure other posters will be happy to add.

There are millions of your country men and women who have given up the Brazilian utopia at some danger to themselves to come live in our mind controlled society of robots. By the way, do you want to chat about your great and wonderful history, about how your military dictatorship disappeared dissidents as late as the early 80's? Oh by the way, I won't refer to Brazil as "undeveloped" I refer to it as a backwater s**t hole where everyone has their hand out for a free ride. Viva Lula!
Hi Free Mind
written by CalSur, March 02, 2007
An interesting take on the US, with all due respect, there are a number of rednecks and trouble makers posting, but there are also many people who for what ever reason spend time or live in Brazil, there comments are from actual Brazilian expereince and many have a common ring. So I don't understand why you would post such a hateful rant about Americans. Do you know a lot about America? Do you know many Americans? Have you been here? Or have you just seen things about us on "Brazilian Media". I can assure you that most of us are working very hard to take care ofour families, be good folks and just do the best we can...I am sure just like most Brazilians are.

I can assure you, as a new American friend, that while the news media is slanted in the US, it is slanted in all directions, here there is total freedom of the press, it is the one thing that resists Bush's efforts to erode our civil liberties. Most Americans absorb lots of information from a lot of different places and then make judgements on their own, no governement agency tells us how to think. If that were the case we would still have a Republican congress, although I am much disappointed with the new congress already.

There was a time when Brazil and the US were very good friends. I have many Brazilian friends both there and here in the US, they are wonderful people who share the same basic goals in life. Goals of happiness and liberty. So my advice is to take these postings with a grain of salt, if it looks like a redneck, sounds like a redneck or writes like a redneck...then it's probably a redneck, don't react, thats what they want you to do, but let's have constructive dialog that does not end up in hate just because we...or you have a comment that we don't agree with.
These americans are all the same!
written by costinha, March 02, 2007
They are obnoxious, arrogant, stupid, jealous, fat, ugly, disliked, racist, greedy, loud, egotistical, ignorant, obsessed, fanatic, and last but not least, lunatics!

F.U.C.K. the usa, george bush, and all americans.
Ela Não Se Encontra
written by Ric, March 02, 2007
Aqui não, Costinha. Procura em outro lugar.
Coatinha
written by Savy, March 02, 2007
Are you an example of an educated and articulate Brazilian? Were does that hate come from? Do you know an American? Has an American harmed you in some way? Have you ever visited our country? This Bolg is really fasinating. What causes people to have such shallow and miserable lives. I feel very sorry for you.
...
written by jabmalassie, March 02, 2007
I would swear that the guy in that picture is a DJ with some turntables.
...
written by bo, March 02, 2007
Free Minded
written by GTY, 2007-03-01 18:44:11

A minimum wage of US$350.00 a month.


No bud, that's 350 REAIS per month. Around 160 DOLLARS.
...
written by bo, March 02, 2007
written by Savy, 2007-03-02 00:22:45

Are you an example of an educated and articulate Brazilian? Were does that hate come from? Do you know an American? Has an American harmed you in some way? Have you ever visited our country? This Bolg is really fasinating. What causes people to have such shallow and miserable lives. I feel very sorry for you.



LOL, Savy, I can tell you how 90 % of blogs here on this site will turn out.

First you'll have an article about a situation in brazil that is APPALLING, something about murder or corruption, possibly slave labor, poverty, whatever. But the article is interesting because it shows a recent study or happening and shows how brazil is either THE world leader in this undesirable trait, or A world leader.

Then the bozo's come out of the woodwork. They'll start to post similiar happenings in the U.S., as if these happenings in the U.S. are as frequnet, or severe, as here in brazil. You'll then have the americans fire back at the brazilians for being off topic, not to mention totally irrelevant in the point that is being made, in which in BRAZIL these realities are of disastrous proportions. And it just continues to go back and forth.

There are those that will try and say that because people are murdered in the U.S., to the tune of 14,000 of them in 2005, that the U.S. is AS dangerous as Brazil, which had 55,000 people murdered in 2005, and with a population of a little over HALF of that of the U.S. But, because murder takes place in the U.S., it must be as bad as brazil. Make sense?? A ridiculous way of thinking and justifying. But besides the handful on this board you actually have a percentage of brazilians that truly have this same attitude. It's why WE will die long before we ever see any significant change in brazil. Brazil is a 3rd world country today, and it will be 100 years from now.
Geez Bo
written by Savy, March 02, 2007
That really is depressing...I see so much opportunity in Brazil and have enjoyed my few trips there, I am going back for a month in June. I guess I don't have a good view on the reality there, I guess I feel a little sorry for Brazilians if what you say is true.
...
written by bo, March 02, 2007
Geez Bo
written by Savy, 2007-03-02 09:23:13

That really is depressing...I see so much opportunity in Brazil and have enjoyed my few trips there,


Tons of opportunity, and it is depressing. Especially when you finally realize that the leaders of this country don't have the courage to change it, nor do those with the ability, the middle, upper middle class. They (the politicians) WANT the "status quo", they earn from the "status quo". Investment in education is a joke and invest just enough to not draw irate international criticism. The politicians continue to put themselves above the law, the law does not apply to a brazilian politician. Make sense? In my local newspaper just this week a dep**ado, a congressmen, was stated, "brazilian citizens can't expect the politicians to be like, or walk in the same circles as "ordinary brazilians". Does that make sense? As if they were "royalty". Are you aware that there are actually brazilian laws that exist to protect the politicians against being prosecuted for corruption? Violence is completely out of control and no one trusts the police. Hell, the Brazilian Finance Minister just got robbed, along with his entire family, over Carnaval, and they didn't go to the police! What's that tell ya? Is that a leader?
Bo
written by A brazilian, March 02, 2007
Get over with the "common places". What you are saying is what any undereducated brazilian can repeat by listening it over the years. You can't point problems because you don't know about them, you are ignorant, so you use every single occurrence that happens in here to "prove" your point: "See, see, this much worse, much worse...".

Pathetic.
...
written by bo, March 02, 2007
written by A brazilian, 2007-03-02 11:35:43

Get over with the "common places". What you are saying is what any undereducated brazilian can repeat by listening it over the years. You can't point problems because you don't know about them, you are ignorant, so you use every single occurrence that happens in here to "prove" your point: "See, see, this much worse, much worse...".


Let´s draw our arms then
written by bribetaker, March 02, 2007
Well folks, as a neutral-hard to neutral in the cirCUMstances, huh!
Beazilans and Americans should pick their weapons and go to battle, hehehe!
Brazilian Boy
written by GTY, March 02, 2007
"Get over with the "common places". What you are saying is what any undereducated brazilian can repeat by listening it over the years. You can't point problems because you don't know about them, you are ignorant, so you use every single occurrence that happens in here to "prove" your point: "See, see, this much worse, much worse...".

Pathetic."

Lets see what Bo says:

The leaders of Brazil don't have the courage to change it.

Investment in education is a joke.

Brazilian politicans put themselves above the law, there is even a law that protects them from prosecution for corruption.

Violence is completly out of control and nobody trusts the police.

The Brazilian Finance Minister was robbed and he did not go to the police!

These sound like pretty "pin pointed" things to me and much of what I have expereinced and heard from my Brazilian friends. Do you deny these things? Quit drinking the Kool Aid man. There is no conspiricy, just people relating what the know to be true about Brasil.
Bo
written by Ludwig Van Beethoven, March 04, 2007
Bo,

You are correct when you say that Brazil will be a 3rd world country in the next 100 years. Actually, one famous brazilian economist, Roberto Campos, said that Brazil has to grow at least 4%-5% a year to grow in a level to absorb all the young people that get into the job market. If Brazil start growing over 5% it will take 120 years for Brazil to approximate the level of the United States TODAY! Brazil has no chance of growing without the reforms, and I believe as a brazilian that this reforms will not happen without something very serious taking place.
Response
written by Free Minded Guy, March 07, 2007
I'm feeling like my post was a little bit misunderstood.

First, I do not hate Americans and I was not angry when I typed those words. CalSur I've read your post, and u sounded like a wise guy to me, but yet, I maintain what I said. If you read GTY’s answer to my post you'll se that he is the living prove of everything I said. Specially when he mentions "leftist nonsense", witch demonstrates that your government succeeded in it's historical crusade to abolish the classical leftwing ideas from American’s minds, making words such as Communism and Socialism sound like awful curses to any American citizen. I'm not the only one, not jus in Brazil, but in the whole world, who shares the conception that most Americans are indeed rednecks with an incorrect view of the world. But I don't blame them for being like this, because, as I said, they are the major victims of their government’s eager to power.

Ps: GTY, just for you to know, the coupe d'etat that started the Military dictatorship you've mentioned was fully supported by US government at the time. During the military regime (1964-198smilies/cool.gif many CIA officers came to Brazil just to teach government’s agents on how to suppress the guerrilla and the resistance groups that tried to fight to restore democracy. The military regime was the best way US government had to prevent Brazil and many other countries in Latin America from a Communist revolution as it happened in Cuba. So, the next time you try to criticize something about our history, please make sure that you actually know the subject quite well.
...
written by bo, March 08, 2007
Ps: GTY, just for you to know, the coupe d'etat that started the Military dictatorship you've mentioned was fully supported by US government at the time.


So what? We would've supported anything in the face of communism. What's your point? The coupe d'etat was planned and conducted by brazilians. Yes, they had the support of the american gov't., but it was a brazilian plan, carried out by brazilians. People like you love to try and cover up that fact. As if the U.S. gov't. and the CIA "installed" a new gov't. in brazil with a few thousand CIA agents and a few million dollars.

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