Could your next IT project come from Brazil?

Brazil is emerging as an IT powerhouse, with attention from all the big names in tech such as Microsoft, Google and Intel.

When Intel decided to build its South American fab in Costa Rica, the government constructed its own CMOS manufacturing facility in Porto Alegre to kick start the semiconductor industry.

"The production of electronics in Brazil is increasing fast," says Rezende, "but all the components are imported. We offered locations for foreign companies to build manufacturing facilities but they were not interested so the government built one. In ten years it will be privatised but the government decided to build one in order to have the production in Brazil."

The CEITEC plant is mainly producing RFID tags that will be used to track every cow in Brazil, to reduce costs and improve quality; the government is also considering tracking cars to enforce congestion charging and permits to drive in the busiest cities.

A foundation of free software

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Brazil has a huge appetite for open source software. The scarcity of imported hardware and software during the 80s and 90s made free software popular and the availability of Linux PCs in the telecentros' meant that many developers learned to program by tinkering with open source code.

The federal government has been famously pro-Linux to save on licencing costs and has backed open source development projects directly as well as partnering with IBM on a Linux technology centre, although it's keen to get investment from all technology companies, not just open source.

Java is hugely popular in Brazil and ex-Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz finally approved open sourcing Java after the Brazilian government wouldn't consider using a technology that wasn't open source.

On the other hand, 95 per cent of the PCs sold with Linux in Brazil are running Windows within two months according to Gartner; Brazil is one of the countries the low-price Starter editions of Windows were originally aimed at.

Software piracy has been an issue in Brazil and the government hasn't always been a strong defender of intellectual property although Medecin Sans Frontiers supported the government decision to bypass Merck's patent on AIDS drugs and buy generics from China in 2007, it also got the country placed on a list of US copyright violators.

IP protection hasn't been part of the culture in Brazil explains minister Rezende "researchers in Brazil were not very much concerned about having IP", as he puts it and the legal framework wasn't there.

He mentions Santos Dumont who Brazilians claim invented the airplane. "There is an old fight with the Wright brothers over this; they got the patent and he never cared about patents he said that any invention he made was the dimension of humanity."

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