Friday, March 29, 2013

Campos del Cambio: São José dos Campos, Brazil's City of Technology

São José dos Campos: Silicon Valley del Sur 
This is Part 4 in an ongoing blog series focusing on technological development in Latin America. Part 1 is an overview of technological development in LA. Part 2 is an exploration the Start-Up Brazil movement centered on funding sources and innovation. Part 3 is an examination of the place of Brazilian universities in technological development and the state of scientific publication and patent development in Brazil. In Part 4, I explore one of Brazil's most technologically advanced regions: São José dos Campos.

The area of São José dos Campos provides an excellent case study in the development of technology in Latin America - stable, mid-sized cities, with greater social equity sharing and stable infrastructural growth. The region is punching above its weight on the four critical indicators for sustained urban economic growth: economic performance, social conditions, sustainable use of resources, and finance and governance (from Nodes reader K. Miller).

This region is an epicenter of technological development in Brazil, and by extension, in Latin America.

(Video Source: ericsson).

This region boasts greater access to technology, higher levels of education in the local politic, and higher life outcomes comparative to larger-sized mega-cities such as São Paolo or Rio. Geographic size is a key determinant here in the successful wide-spread adoption of technology. Mid-sized cities, unencumbered with the intensity of megatropolis socioeconomic issues, are better situated to incubate technological growth.

Located in the Paraíba Valley, the region sits between two Brazilian mega cities and the two most active production and consumption regions in the country,São Paulo (80 km, 50 mi) and Rio de Janeiro (320 km, 200 mi). Just close enough to connect, yet far enough away to manage sociocultural issues of space, justice, access, and opportunity.

São José dos Campos is one of the most important research centers in Brazil. The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) is headquartered there and coordinates intensive research and development in areas such as Earth observation, space sciences, and space technologies. See previous post on S&T publications here. The Brazilian General Command for Aerospace Technology (CTA) has its facilities in the city. 

Technology growth has changed the actual physical spaces of dos Campos as well. 

Investe Sao Paolo reported that: 
Implemented in March 2006, the Parque Tecnológico de São José dos Campos gathers public and private institutions that aim at turning knowledge into wealth by means of the development of technological innovations focused on the market. Its purpose is to stimulate and manage the flow of knowledge and technologies among universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets, thus facilitating the creation and development of innovation-based companies.
The Technological Park of São José dos Campos was the first to receive the final registration in the São Paulo System of Technological Parks - SPTec, created by the Secretaria de Desenvolvimento Econômico, Ciência e Tecnologia (Secretariat of Economic Development, Science and Technology).
The technological parks' aim is to promote and stimulate the economic and technologic development, by the attraction of investments and generation of new knowledge-intensive companies. From the integration among universities, research institutes, the private sector and governmental agencies, there is an attempt to guarantee the development of knowledge- and technology-intensive activities, with the creation of an environment favorable to the arise of new technologically-based companies, the generation and dissemination of the knowledge and the promotion of the technological capacity in key sectors for the national development.
An open access library for CTA S&T publications can be found here. Bloomberg articles on the aerospace industry in dos Campos found here.

Aerospace technologies have been at the heart of dos Campos' technology industry. 

According to the Brazilian Aerospace Cluster:
"The Brazilian aerospace industry had its origin back in 1945 when DCTA – Aerospace Science and Technology Department, was created by the Ministry of Defense. In 1950 DCTA created ITA – Aeronautical Institute of Technology, one of the top engineering schools in the country up to this day. In 1954, DCTA established IPD – Development and Research Institute, which reinforced the Brazilian strategy to obtain knowledge and self-sufficiency in major areas in the aerospace industry. São José dos Campos is also home for INPE – National Institute of Space Research, since 1961."
Due to its roots in aerospace technologies, dos Campos operates as a center for the nation's nascent S&T industries, though historically innovation has been focused on military technologies. Along these lines, Embraer is certainly one of the largest firms in the region. The third major producer of civilian jets, Embraer is a major Brazilian exporter. Headquartered in São José dos Campos, SP, Embraer has several units in Brazil and abroad, including two joint-ventures with China and Portugal.

Stephen Trimble, reporting for Flight Global: "In 2011, Embraer [São José dos Campos based company] acquired ownership stakes in two Brazilian start-ups - Atech and OrbiSat. The latter markets a medium-sized UAV called the Sarvant. Embraer also has formed a joint venture with Brazil's AEL to adapt the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 to Brazilian military requirements. Embraer is now the sole bidder to win a $4 billion contract with the Brazilian army to establish an integrated surveillance network over the country's vast Amazon borders with other South American countries. The network is expected to emphasise surveillance by long-endurance UAVs. "

A host of foreign tech companies are located in the area among them Ericsson (see video above). As recently reported by telecompaper:

"Ericsson has announced the opening of a Centre for the Development of Information Technology, Communications and Multimedia at the Technology Park in Sao Jose dos Campos. The centre aims to develop expertise and innovative products in ICT with Ericsson as the anchor company for the facility. The focus will be on the development of communications technology that will help realise the Connected Society, especially in areas such as transportation and security, involving cloud computing, broadband and mobility. According to Lawrence Cole, vice president of Strategy and Marketing at Ericsson for Latin America and the Caribbean, the company has invested around USD 900 million in R&D in Brazil in the last fifteen years."
Technology companies with a notable presence in dos Campos include: 
This is serious investment and these companies are not alone. Accel Partners has invested heavily in Brazil with its 500 million dollar XI fund. Kaszek Ventures, was started in 2012, by Hernan Kazah, a co-founder of the e-commerce company MercadoLibre, and Nicolas Szekasy, the company’s former chief financial officer.

Vinod Sreeharsha from DealBook (NYT) reported that according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission the fund initially raised $56.4 million from American investors in its first closing. Kaszek has already invested in 11 start-ups in Latin America, six of which are based in Brazil.

Local examples of start-up culture in dos Campos can be seen in Georges Kirsteller Ryoki Inoue, who recently launched a series of web start-ups including: - Institutional Site for developing start-ups -News Portal and online publications -Portal Gastronomy - Business Portal in São José dos Campos and Valley Region - Portal Jobs in the Valley - Portal to disseminate news and cultural - Digital Magazine for fashion, tourism and extreme sports - Tourism Portal - Portfolio and some cases

Education is Key to Technological Innovation

The education system in the area is robust: 53 secondary schools, 54 primary schools, and 109 preschools. A number of Brazil's top higher education technology programs are located there; here is the educational infrastructure needed to develop and train the future technology creators and innovators in Brazil.

Universities and Colleges in São José dos Campos

Two critical national agencies are located there: INPE - The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research and Brazilian General Command for Aerospace Technology (CTA) with its four institutes: Aeronautics and Space Institute (IAE), Institute for Advanced Studies (IEAv), Industrial Foment and Coordination Institute (IFI) and ITATechnical Schools. (Source: Wiki, 2013.)

The case study of São José dos Campos provides an excellent blueprint for technological development in Brazil, and in the larger frame in LA. Mid-sized cities with reliable infrastructures (social, economic, industrial, & political), future-focused local governments with an engaged body politic and engaged techno-citizenry, the visible presence of higher education institutions focused on technology, and a history of technological innovation.

For more information about technology in Brazil, check out Diego Remus, considered one of Brazil’s top tech bloggers and co-founder of the blog: startupsi, Silvia Valadares also writes about technology start-ups in Brazil.

(Image source: Wiki Commons, 2013).


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