By Nathan Rudyk
When Ricardo Sodre, the Founding Partner and CEO of Brazil’s Project-1 accelerator, read Startup Nation, it was a bolt of entrepreneurial lightning. The best-selling book on Israel’s unprecedented startup miracle pointed the way to how he could make a difference in his innovation-starved country of Brazil. And while Israel beckoned, Canada’s advantages also attracted the interest of the CEO who currently has five startups under development in Sao Paulo.
Sodre’s investigation into the world’s innovation hotspots revealed that satisfying Brazil’s hunger for startups, sophisticated engineering and programming talent and leading edge technology could be satisfied by the Ontario Technology Corridor – a ring of collaborative regions in Canada’s most populous province – and a market2world client since 2008.
More than 18,000 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies employ over 270,000 people, making the Ontario Technology Corridor Canada’s largest technology cluster. Its renewable talent engine is regularly recharged by Ontario's 20 universities and 24 colleges – many offering extensive internship and co-op education programs highly responsive to technology industry needs.
Sodre developed deep connections with senior executives from many of Brazil’s largest companies through his former career as an advertising executive and Chief Growth Officer with several of the country’s largest ad agencies. With an experienced team of managers and mentors, he is now busy building commercialization bridges between Ontario and Brazil to supply his contacts with innovations that help them satisfy demand in the country’s dynamic economy. Sodre’s Project-1 invested in its first Ontario success story, Readyportal from Debut Logic Inc., which is a “click-and-play” social collaboration and enterprise content management system platform. Developed in Toronto, Brazilian enterprises and others around the world use Readyportal to run their enterprise content and collaboration at a fraction of the cost of existing solutions, with 60% less implementation time.
“Many large Brazilian companies are in need of ICT technologies that simply are not available in the country,” said Sodre. “The Ontario Technology Corridor’s wealth of startup companies and technology talent can help fill that need. My research also showed me that while Ontario has talent on a par with Silicon Valley, there is 70% less funding available for Ontario startups. Enter the fast-growth, high demand Brazilian market to fill that commercialization gap.” Sodre’s plans for Project-1 include raising $10 million to commercialize 20 to 25 Ontario companies through soft landings in Brazil over the next three years.
Project-1 isn’t the only bridge to commercialization success for the bustling companies in the Ontario Technology Corridor. In Ottawa, another Ontario company called Giatec Scientific Inc. helps ensure that Brazilian transportation bridges and other concrete infrastructure is up to par in a country that is experiencing a construction boom. Giatec received Brazil’s Rio Info 2013 IT Innovation award, given to a company that offers the most novel software-based applications and technologies.
Developed by two PhDs in civil engineering from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, Giatec’s sophisticated algorithms and software analyze the test data and help with the assessment of concrete quality and evaluation of the service life of infrastructure. Brazil is a very significant market for Giatec due to the booming construction in various sectors and particularly those related to the developments for the FIFA world cup and the Olympic games. Brazil is also the largest cement producer in South America (also sixth in the world) with an annual production of 63 million tons.
“The Ontario Technology Corridor value proposition regularly attracts companies like Cisco, Google, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft and Ubisoft to expand here, and we’re also pleased to know that Project-1 and Giatec Scientific are similarly able to help large Brazilian companies develop their economic potential with Ontario-based startup innovation and talent,” said Gerald Pisarzowski, Vice-President Business Development with the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance (GTMA), an Ontario Technology Corridor partner.
There are also financial reasons for the Ontario Technology Corridor’s success. In 2013 Canada’s combined federal-provincial statutory general corporate income tax rate averages 26% – 13% less than the average U.S. rate. Companies located in Canada enjoy the lowest costs in the G7 for R&D intensive sectors, with up to a 10.7% advantage over the U.S. In addition, in Ontario, a $100 R&D expenditure can be reduced to an after-tax cost of $57, or reduced further to $39 for qualifying small business.
To learn more about the Ontario Technology Corridor, please visit www.ontariotechcorridor.ca.
(Nathan Rudyk is President and CEO with market2world communications inc., the public relations and marketing agency for global innovators.)