A team of British technology experts from UK Trade & Investment, the government agency responsible for trade promotion, recently visited Brazil and spoke to IT Decisions. In this guest post, Nitin Dahad, ICT Sector Specialist at UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), comments on his impressions from the visit.
Brazil and the UK are strong trading partners, but when it comes to the technology sector, you wonder why the countries don’t have closer links. Having met several software, mobile, and electronics trade associations and companies in São Paulo, it seems there are many opportunities for partnership between large and small companies but there is little awareness of each other’s capability and potential.
For example, there is so much knowledge that can be shared on cluster creation, whether in silicon design in the South West of England, telecoms and electronics around Cambridge or Tech City in London, now recognized as the digital capital of Europe.
And there’s a lot for UK companies to learn from the Brazilian clusters. And once you throw in the similarities in the London experience for the 2012 Olympics, and the ICT and infrastructure challenges for Brazil’s 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, it seems that there is tremendous opportunity for dialogue, potential knowledge transfer, and ultimately partnerships and trade between the two countries in the technology sector.
The UK is one of Brazil’s leading trade partners with a ranking of seven for exports and thirteen for imports. The trade is mostly in raw materials and semi-manufactured goods (Brazil to UK) and production and capital goods (UK to Brazil); it’s clearly time for trade in technology to drive up those rankings.
But the impression one gets as someone who’s heavily involved in the technology sector in the UK and visiting Brazil is that both countries have a real buzz in the tech sector. In Brazil, what seemed most apparent as a first time visitor was that there is:
- Huge mobile phone use – penetration of more than one per person in the 200 million population;
- Increasing social mobility with a growing middle class and more people buying technology;
- An appetite for online education (and in any globalised society – a need for it too);
- Growing demands on technology for healthcare and from health insurance.
Cutting across, these are the needs for mobile security (such as that needed for mobile banking payments) and banking technologies and security.
These areas of growth present opportunities both for Brazilian technology companies looking to exploit the UK and European market via the UK, as well as for British companies that have expertise in the areas of mobile, media, banking, health and education technologies.
In addition there are huge opportunities from areas such as mobile ticketing and mobile NFC payments, particularly with major events coming up over the next five years. Like any market, anywhere in the world, Brazil has its downsides for a UK based company – such as bureaucracy and the sometimes-lengthy processes to set up and do business, plus hire people.
But with incentives, tech clusters and local partners, plus the wisdom of overseas companies that are already in market like BT, along with UK Trade & Investment’s team of experts based in Brazil, there is a wealth of experience and support on tap to enable Brazilian and British companies to work together to exploit each others’ market opportunities.
In little more than a week in Brazil, I sensed a fantastic entrepreneurial spirit. Plus there is a warm and easygoing business environment, unlike some other fast growth markets. To label Brazil an ‘emerging market’ strikes me as insulting. It’s clearly a ‘high growth’ market that’s going places very fast. UK tech companies that ignore Brazil, do so at their peril.
There’s a lot to collaborate around, there’s a lot to of experience to share. As a UKTI sector specialist I look forward to doing my bit to help foster partnerships.
Photo by Grufnik licensed under Creative Commons