Program to fund foreign start-ups

Start-Up Brasil’ has 25 slots available for non-Brazilian technology companies interested in developing themselves in the country. Shortlisted enterprises will be eligible for up to US$ 596,000 in funds.

São Paulo – The “Start-Up Brasil” program will fund projects by 25 non-Brazilian technology companies interested in working in Brazil and in need of capital to develop. Promoted by the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and innovation, the endeavour is a part of TI Maior, a strategic federal government project geared toward software and information technology services.

The program is meant to connect the start-ups with accelerator companies, i.e. those with the capital and the knowledge to invest in start-ups. The program has a budget of R$ 40 million (US$ 19.8 million). Besides foreign enterprises, “Start-Up Brasil” will also benefit 75 domestic companies.

“The program has come to include foreign companies based on the premise that this is a global chain, and we cannot devise global technology solutions through Brazilian enterprises alone,” explains Rafael Moreira, the ministry’s software and services coordinator. “The United States has done that very well. There are other international experiences that show that foreign companies usher in new ideas, and that causes the program to become a world-class level program,” he says.

The program is open to companies from all over the world. Participating companies are required to be formally established for at least three years, and to develop innovative products or services that use software and IT services as part of their solution. Foreigners whose projects are approved will receive aid in obtaining temporary visas to Brazil.

Each shortlisted start-up will get up to R$ 200,000 (US$ ) a year from the federal government, transferred in the form of R&D grants from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). The start-ups will also receive funding from the accelerator companies.

Depending on negotiations between the parties, the amount may vary from R$ 20,000 to R$ 1 million (approximately US$ 10,000 to US$ 500,000). There is no limit as to how many employees the applying companies have, but the shortlisted companies will have to adapt to the amount received from the program in order to fund their personnel’s trips to Brazil.

In the first phase of the project, the accelerator companies that will become associated with the start-ups have been defined: Acelera Brasil (Microsoft Participações), Wayra, 21212, Aceleratech, Papaya, Acelera MG (Fumsoft), Outsource Brasil, Start You Up, and Pipa. “Many of the accelerators are already accustomed to working with international entrepreneurs. One of the aspects taken into consideration during the selection was the accelerators’ internationalization level,” says Moreira.

The deadline for start-ups’ entries is May 31 and the shortlist will be announced in July.

The acceleration programs will start in the first half of August, during the “Induction Week”, an event that will outline the program and will be attended by all of the shortlisted companies. According to Moreira, all of the program’s activities will be bilingual. “The lectures will be given in English or Portuguese with simultaneous translation. The environment at the accelerator companies is also bilingual,” he says.

Programs’ durations range from 3 to 12 months, depending on the accelerator company. The entrepreneurs will be physically located within the accelerator’s infrastructure, and benefits will include physical workspace, legal advising, coaching and mentoring.