Brazil is a booming country that offers a wide range of opportunities in different branches of the economy. It is the largest economy of the region, with a vibrant startup environment.
The country is almost the size of the continent, and with more than 210 million inhabitants offers great expansion opportunities for Swiss startups. It is also the biggest market in Latin America, being a great point of access to the rest of the region.
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The largest startup ecosystem in Latin America
With the largest startup ecosystem in Latin America, and VC investments amounting to 2.7 billion US dollars in 2019, Brazil reached an 80% increase of startups in comparison to 2018. The major innovation hubs are in the South-East (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte) and the South (Florianopolis) regions.
Thanks to its young population – almost 40% of the country is 24 years old or younger – and people’s willingness to adapt to new technologies. Brazil has witnessed a boom in technological developments over the last years. This growth has created space for entrepreneurs and startups to explore new sectors and disrupt the industry.
Fintech, retailtech, medtech, biotech and more
That’s is especially true in the case of fintech. Brazil has a large number of users of digital banks, such as Nubank, Brazil’s largest fintech, which was classified as a unicorn in 2018. Many competitors have entered the market since, and this has attracted the interest of European digital banks such as Revolut or N26.
Other sectors of the economy have also witnessed robust digitalisation processes and continuous innovation adoption. That’s the case of agriculture that accounts for around one-fifth of the Brazilian GDP. Further opportunities are arising with the digitalisation of the industry, as in other countries. Some companies have already adopted technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and blockchain to monitor production from the fields to the market shelves.
Even before the world of retail had to go digital because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Retailtechs were booming, and the sector is expected to grow further, especially taking into account developments in transportation modes and monitoring processes of the value chain.
Brazil also is the world’s seventh-largest health market with more than $42 billion spent annually on private healthcare and more than 386 Healthtechs. With the recent challenges brought by the COVID-19 crisis, this sector may grow further, relying on international collaborations to share best practices and innovative solutions to today’s problems from other parts of the world.
The energy sector also occupies a significant share of GDP given the size of the country, and the richness of its natural resources. There is an increasing interest from the public and private sectors to invest in and develop renewable energy sources, especially in the areas of solar and wind energy.
Brazil is also an attractive country when it comes to urban mobility. Companies such as Uber and Brazil’s first unicorn, 99, have highly benefitted from the size of cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Their growth is now driven by demand in other cities across the country. Alternative modes of transportation, such as bike-sharing apps or e-bikes, have also expanded their operations and established themselves in many cities such as Porto Alegre, Curitiba or Salvador.
A partner of Switzerland
The country is also home to leading universities and business schools with partners all over the world, including Switzerland. Over the past decades, Brazilian and Swiss authorities have partnered to foster research and innovation exchanges between the two countries. Brazil is the first partner for Switzerland-based researchers interested in Latin America. The partnership has culminated in the Academia-Industry Training (AIT) programme that allows researchers from Brazil and Switzerland to take their research from the labs to the market through a series of training held in both countries.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that opportunities never come without challenges. Like other countries, Brazil is being severely affected by the shrinking global economy and is also in the midst of a political crisis. Add to that a complicated bureaucracy and the difficulty to find clear information about regulatory aspects. The language may represent an additional barrier, which makes navigating the Brazilian market for the first time a time-consuming experience.
swissnex Brazil has been connecting the dots in education, research and innovation between Switzerland and Brazil since 2014. We highlight the best of Swiss and Brazilian ingenuity and create networking and collaboration opportunities for researchers and entrepreneurs from both countries. Our global perspective, combined with our local expertise, allows us to nurture fruitful partnerships leading to bright outcomes.
Please feel free to connect with us at www.swissnexbrazil.
In our next article, we will be looking at a Swiss startup that has sealed a collaboration agreement to enter the Brazilian market. We look forward to a lot of tech passion, the South American way.