As Brazil’s information technology (IT) sector expands, one city in the northeastern state of Ceará is starting to steal some of the limelight. The place is Fortaleza, the beautiful city in the northeastern corner of Brazil, home to over two million people and a place that has some surprising things going for it, include a disproportionate number of young professionals.
Fortaleza, the Capital city of Ceará and the fifth largest city in Brazil, drew attention when it inaugurated a new technology park last year and launched a campaign to attract the attention of global technology firms. Fortaleza has long been the main economic engine for the region, and its economy has witnessed rapid growth over the past few years. Nestled on the shoreline of Atlantic Ocean, Fortaleza houses a large many number of high-rise buildings and much of its economy is based around leather and garment industry.
The technology park in Fortaleza is modeled after the Park in neighboring Recife, and both are designed to fuel growth in the Brazilian IT industry.
Incentives and Tax Breaks
Over the past few months, the local government has announced a slew of incentives and tax breaks for IT companies moving into the technology park.
Once the companies have set up their office in the park, they can seek partnership with local research professors and universities to generate skilled labor force for their operation. “The park itself is very important for the consolidation of the ICT industry in the city, since it is re-developing deteriorated areas and integrating the local industry with universities and technology centers,” said Márcio Braga, president of Assespro Ceará, an association of software developers and IT services firms.
Braga is the chief operating officer of IVIA, one of a few successful IT and outsourcing companies in the region. IVIA has offices in many other Brazilian cities, including Natal and Recife.
The technology industry in Ceará, according to Braga, is mainly comprised of service providers in different technology segments, including software development, security systems, CRM and mobile computing. “With a young population and some of the best universities, the region has all the potential to double the size of its IT industry in a short span of time,” he said.
Data Center Hub
Fortaleza is one among four cities – along with São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Florianópolis – chosen by the federal government to host “data center condominiums”, a program designed to strengthen Brazil’s ICT sector.
Analysts say Fortaleza’s proximity with Central America and the southern coast of the United States contributed to the government’s decision to host the condominium in the city. Another advantage of Fortaleza is that the main fiber cable powering the Brazil’s IT industry runs through its territory.
Fortaleza scored high marks in a test conducted as part of selecting cities to host data center condominiums, stated José Contijo, a senior bureaucrat in the federal government. “Fortaleza is an ideal location for data centers,” he said.
The Federal government plans to invest US$ 30 million to provide basic infrastructure for data center companies to establish and flourish in the city. Contijo said the fiscal incentives and the IT infrastructure will inject growth into Fortaleza’s technology sector.
“We have to support technology companies, helping them innovate and employ more number of local youths. As the days go by, companies will grow in size and the young generation will learn how to launch technology startups and give shape to their innovative ideas. It is an excellent playfield,” Braga added.
Braga’s company, IVIA is a good example of successful technology startups in Brazil. Founded in 1996, IVIA provides IT services to local banking industry and develops e-business applications. In 2008, the firm started exporting IT services to clients in the US and the United Kingdom.
“We have qualified employees and they are the same as any other Brazilian: open, easy-going, welcoming and pro-active,” he added.