The agglomeration of companies, research institutes, universities, and business incubators is – luckily – becoming more common in Brazil.
Think about the expression “technology cluster”. There is a high chance that the first thing that crossed your mind was a region in California, United States, where some of the most important technology companies are situated.
It is no wonder that Silicon Valley is considered one of the main technology clusters in the world. But this type of initiative, which concentrates companies, educational institutions, laboratories and other similar entities, is also present in Brazil. As a matter of fact, Brazilians have one – or more – Silicon Valley’s of their own.
Both governmental organizations and private companies believe that the evolution of technology clusters might be mutually beneficial, as investors, researchers and developers are able to work together and improve the quality of business in general.
Evolution of Technology Clusters in Brazil
A study published by the Ministério de Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (MCTI, or Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) lists 94 technology clusters in Brazil, which are in different stages.
Many of these are not yet fully developed, but the growth is striking: in 2008, for example, this number was 74 clusters, and in 2000 there were only 10. Most of them are either being projected or developed; according to MCTI and only 28 are currently operating.
Most of the Brazilian technology clusters are concentrated in the Southern and Southeastern regions of the country. From all the 94 national initiatives, the South and Southeast own 74 of them. This share is reasonable, as these regions have the largest number of inhabitants, best infrastructure conditions and also the largest GDP in the country.
Main Brazilian Technology Clusters
It is possible to mention at least five main technology clusters that are operating in Brazil. Commonly clusters tend to name themselves as the “Brazilian Silicon Valley”, but there is clearly a lack of consensus about that.
Parque Tecnológico UFRJ
Located in the city and state of Rio de Janeiro, this technology cluster was built inside the campus of Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ or Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
It is considered one of the main initiatives in the country not only for its economic significance – as it generates 5.000 jobs and has a high concentration of companies and researchers in the oil and gas sector – but also for its size of 350.000 square metres.
The estimate is that until 2017, Parque Tecnológico UFRJ will have 200 companies established there, working directly with the university and important technology research centers, such as:
- Centro de Tecnologia Mineral, CETEM or Mineral Research Centre
- Instituto de Engenharia Nuclear, IEN or Nuclear Engineering Institute
- Centro de Pesquisa em Energia Elétrica, CEPEL or Electric Research Centre
- Centro de Pesquisas da Petrobras, CENPES or Petrobras’ Research Centre
Vale da Eletrônica
The Brazilian Electronic Valley. That is how the city of Santa Rita do Sapucaí, located in the countryside of the state of Minas Gerais, is now known. The area was once only a producer of coffee and milk, but today it has one of the highest income per capita in Brazil’s hinterland.
There are currently around 150 companies established in the small city of only 40.000 inhabitants. The current technology cluster status was only possible for various initiatives, including the creation of the first Brazilian Technical School in Electronics, in 1959, which happened in Santa Rita do Sapucaí; and also the establishment of other institutions, such as Instituto Nacional de Telecomunicações, Inatel, or National Institute of Telecommunications; and Faculdade de Administração e Informática, FAI or School of Administration and Computing.
Vale da Eletrônica is responsible for generating around 10.000 positions. Telecommunications, Electronics, IT and Safety Technology are some of the most developed sectors in the cluster.
Parque Científico e Tecnológico da PUCRS, or simply Tecnopuc, is the technology cluster integrated with the university Pontíficie Universidade Católica located in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. The cluster also has another centre in the city of Viamão, which is close to the original campus.
Tecnopuc has 50.000 square metres of built area in Porto Alegre and 33.000 in Viamão. Its project started in 2001, with the acquisition of space that belonged to the Brazilian Army. This technology cluster is focused in four sectors:
- IT and Communications
- Energy and Environment
- Life Sciences
- Creative Industry
Today, Tecnopuc is responsible for more than 6.300 jobs and houses 120 organizations, including laboratories, research institutes and private companies.
Parque Tecnológico de São José dos Campos
The technology cluster located in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, is one of the oldest and main initiatives in the country.
The region benefitted from the prior establishment of two of the most important educational institutions in Brazil during the 1950’s: Centro Técnico Aeroespacial, known as CTA or Aerospace Technical Center; and Instituto de Tecnologia Aeronáutica, known as ITA or Institute of Aviation Technology.
The São José dos Campos cluster has an area of 188.000 square metres and 36.000 square metres of built area. It is considered the main region for the development of aerospace and defense technology in Brazil, but is also has projects in other areas, such as environment, health, IT and water resources.
The Digital Port, located in Recife, Pernambuco, is the only technology cluster operating in the Northeastern region of the country. Nevertheless, it is considered the largest one in Brazil.
The numbers are impressive: in 2010, for example, the total income of the 200 companies established in Porto Digital was BRL 1 billion. The cluster was created in 2000, fruit from private and public investments and is located in an area of 1 million square metres.
IBM and Microsoft are some of the companies established in Porto Digital. The sectors in which the cluster is focused are:
- IT and Communications
- Creative Economy, which includes games, media, and advertising