Brazil holds its place as the "B" in BRIC, an acronym that stands for Brazil, Russia, India, and China and represents the world's fastest growing economies. Despite its rapid economic success as the world's 8th largest economy, Brazil is still considered a developing country according to the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook Report. With the restrictive laws on importation of hardware in Brazil, the prices of computers are about twice the price in the U.S. Surprisingly however, there is a technology boom going on in Sao Paulo, Brazil The reason lies in software for Web and mobile development. Brazil has the 5th largest number of mobile phone and Internet users in the world. According to an article by Claudionor Coelho in the EE Times, there are 189 million mobile phones, 200 million tech-savvy consumers, and an exploding demand for PCs, leading to an increase in Internet usage in Brazil. With the world's third-largest stock exchange, it's no question that multinational companies including ARM, Freescale, Google, and Intel have increased their investments in Brazil's high-tech business sector.
Elected officials of Brazil are pushing the development of technology centers throughout the country. With one of the top Computer Science undergraduate and graduate programs in Brazil, Universidade Federal de Minas Geraisis (UFMG) is an exemplary model of a world-class educational infrastructure. UFMG staffs professors from Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, UCLA, and other prestigious universities around the world. The effects of focusing on the development of educational infrastructure have had a tremendous impact, as new tech-based companies are created. For instance, the first Brazilian-run semiconductor manufacturing facility is in production and multinational companies are investing in Brazil. IBM is going to construct their first new research facility in 12 years in Brazil. Nearly half of all IT costs in South America can be attributed to Brazil, demonstrating Brazil's power as a technology hub in the region.
In 2003, a team at the School of the Future, an interdisciplinary research laboratory of the University of Sao Paulo, began formulating a survey inspired by the Campus Computing Project, which served to analyze how colleges and universities in the U.S. use information technology. The survey asked questions covering topics such as policy, infrastructure, portals and investments. In 2005, the project in Brazil received sponsorship by SunGard Higher Education, Adobe, Macromedia, Intel, and Microsoft in order to reach out to all the countries from Mexico to the southernmost tip of South America. The results revealed:
Taking the initiative to construct a survey is highly beneficial to the technological and economical development of Brazil and other Latin American countries. Findings such as the increase of wireless service in Brazil, and the non-reduction in information technology spending among the three groups, exemplifies the increase in technological development among the developing nations in Latin America. Furthermore, the negative findings that reveal the gaps between the strongly developed infrastructure of the U.S. and Latin American countries are useful in influencing how these countries should make new policies in regards to technology education in order to improve their technology infrastructure.
The School of the Future has also started a project called Telecurso 2000, which aids students who have dropped out of school by preparing them for exams that are equivalent to elementary or secondary education. The program is broadcasted on television and is available in videocassette form and in book format.
There are laws in Brazil that require all foreign companies to hire locally. With the huge influx of international companies investing in Brazil as a result of the technological boom, such as China's direct investment of $17 billion in 2010, Brazilians have more opportunities to stay and support their home economies. The presence of native workers staying in the country has lead to the development of a distinct labor culture. Brazilians enjoy many labor-friendly protections, including one-month annual bonuses and meal and transportation stipends. Brazilians encourage personal relationships among co-workers. Asian executives have commented on the lax work ethic of Brazilians, and their lack of punctuality. Nevertheless, Charles Tang, founder of the Brazil-China chamber of trade and industry stated that despite being informal, Brazilian workers are just as professional. In fact, Brazilian workers were 30 percent more productive than their Chinese counterparts in 2010.
Brazil has implemented many policies in order to promote education, starting with policies meant to provide incentives for staying in school such as offering free meals and grants for low-income families with children attending school, resulting in 94 percent of children registered in grades 1-8. Brazil makes significant investments in public education, as shown by the diminishing number of students enrolled in private schools in 1990.
Since the 1980s, many countries in South America have abandoned protectionist economic policies and moved towards economic liberalizations, privatization, and deregulation. As a result, the government tends to facilitate rather than choose and control the development of new technologies.