Internationalization is another strategic dimension aligned with the vision for today and for the future. It is outlined in the Tecnopuc plan, and the results of this positioning are beginning to show, creating an exciting outlook for the next few years.
There are countless initiatives that show the ongoing plan. One of these is signing partnerships in order to open borders to enterprises. Another one, which was intensified in 2014, is increasing exchange with technology parks around the world. This gave rise to an agreement with Tuspark, one of the most important projects in Chinese territory, located in Beijing. The partnership was celebrated during the 31st round of the World Conference of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP), in Doha (Qatar), in 2014.
The weight of the development of the Asian giant is rapidly absorbed: with a 20-year history, the park is part of Tsinghua University, and is one of the most important platforms for social projection of the university in the Chinese community. There are over 400 companies involving 25,000 people in their headquarters operations.
The exchange of knowledge will be a natural consequence of the agreement, but the project is much more ambitious and innovative when it comes to Brazil. Tecnopuc aims at being the entry door for Chinese entrepreneurs in Brazil, and Tuspark can be accredited to welcome local operations in Asia.
The road to internationalization may be understood in practical terms through the Soft Landing Program launched by Tecnopuc, which has a mission to facilitate the arrival to new markets, whether it is in the Park at PUCRS or overseas.
Soft Landing enables welcoming foreigners into the Brazilian scene, providing advising in the commercial, legal and operational areas. At the same time, Tecnopuc's institutional relations have broken into 150 innovation environments around the world.
access to new markets
Alexandre Steinbruch, Project Manager at Anprotec, notes that companies have an increasing need to develop their products and services thinking about innovating not only locally, but also globally. This is why he commends Tecnopuc and Raiar Business Incubator for stimulating actions geared toward internationalization.
They have been doing a distinctive job, interacting with international innovative environments and parks, something that reflects an exchange of knowledge and opens new opportunities for all those who are a part of this ecosystem”, he says.
Hence, the Park and the Incubator, as well as all the players established there, have facilitated access to new resources and markets.
Porto Alegre - London
An important partner when it comes to internationalization is UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), an agency from the United Kingdom seeking to stimulate international exchange of projects. Relations with Tecnopuc began formally in 2012.
Representatives of the British agency were in Porto Alegre, and carried out the Soft Landing Seminar, in partnership with Tecnopuc. Innovative habitats from London and how companies interested in doing business exchange should be presented were among topics addressed during the event. Tecnopuc and UKTI have launched, in partnership, the project Startup Brazil-UK, aiming at selecting innovative Brazilian start-ups who were interested in starting their internationalization process in London.
Raquel Kibrit, Investment Manager of UKTI in Brazil, recalls that Tecnopuc was responsible for selecting the companies, and, at that moment, the company was able to verify the quality of incubated companies and the professional work promoted by the administrators.
“We like the professionalism, the ideas coming from professors, and the way the Park managers think, which showed a lot of synergy with our work. This is why this relationship has been so productive, and this encourages us to continue working close to Tecnopuc”, says Raquel.
For the UKTI representative, global projection is a matter of survival, since it is paramount for the competitiveness of companies, especially those who operate with a focus on IT and innovation.
“The more international synergy there is, the more everyone involved has to gain. This way, operations start assimilating more from new technologies as well as product and management improvements by being in contact with the world's leading innovations”, she says.
According to her, UKTI Brazil has relationships with other technology parks in the country, but Tecnopuc is one of the closest ones, precisely due to the fact that the park has a well-defined internationalization agenda. Examples of this are the existence of competition in the IT field to take companies abroad, as well as the fact that the park is constantly promoting lectures with international guests, creating debates and showcasing successful study cases from the international market to young entrepreneurs.
“Using Tecnopuc's own successful study cases to encourage other entrepreneurs aiming at going in the same direction is a winning strategy. The example comes from home”, says the UKTI representative.
GloboSense launches soft landing program
In May 2014, Tecnopuc welcomed the first international start-up company through its soft landing program, in a direct connection with UKTI. GloboSense, from the United Kingdom, started operations at the Park in the Campus in Viamão. The company develops smart systems for uses of the Internet of Things, such as Smart Security and Smart Energy. In the energy field, the new creation is the Energy Kit, which allows for the monitoring of electricity consumption. Through measurement statistics, the application developed by the start-up enterprise contributes for the monitored places to reduce consumption.
The technology was initially verified in England, and began to be implemented in some companies in Brazil in 2015, as a part of pilot projects. Small businesses and homes are the primary market focus.
“The business perspectives are very positive, especially in the energy efficiency area”, says Marcelo Pias, Manager of GloboSense. He mentions the current status of the sector in the country, with the elevated costs of electricity and the introduction of tariff flags, which are putting pressure into the pockets of the end users. “We have expertise in this area, and I believe we can continue to present more and more solutions in order to help people”, he adds.
GloboSense has been developing projects in Brazil in partnership with universities and with the support of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL).
There are eight people working in the development areas at Tecnopuc, including data scientists.
Pias reveals that the choice for Tecnopuc was due to the similarities with the Technology Park at the University of Cambridge, where the company started. The Park's innovation environment has been helping GloboSense to find the ideal business model of Internet of Things in the country.
“We are amazed by the maturity of the operations here, and we realized that there is a living ecosystem from which we can obtain great benefits”, he concludes.
Thoughtworks received support to understand the Brazilian market
Another company that benefited from the soft landing concept to make its entrance was ThoughtWorks. In 2008, its company managers, decided to break into the South American market, embarked on a tour across Brazil. They spoke to universities and government representatives from cities like Recife, Porto Alegre, Campinas, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
At the time, Paulo Caroli, co-founder, author and Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks Brazil, had a meeting with Professor Rafael Prikladnicki, currently the Director of Tecnopuc, during a technology conference in Chicago, USA. “As soon as we spoke, I realized that settling into PUCRS' Science and Technology Park could be an excellent choice for us”, he recalls.
This is how, in December 2009, the player, one of the world leaders in agile software development methods, made its way into the Brazilian market.
“Since the start, we were impressed with Tecnopuc's vision and the alignment between what they wanted to create and what ThoughtWorks expected from its operations in Brazil”, recalls Craig Gorsline, President and Chief Commercial Officer of ThoughtWorks. The company received a space in one of the existing buildings, which allowed them to start working immediately. “They also provided us with all the support needed to understand the Brazilian market”, he says.
The office started with 15 people. In 2015, there were over 150 professionals working in the building of Portal Tecnopuc, in Porto Alegre, generating earnings above USD 10 million per year. The company has offices in Recife, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. “Porto Alegre was the starting point, and it remains an example of an environment of innovation, collaboration and success”, says Caroli.
One important factor in building such collaborating and sharing ecosystem was the Aceleradora Ágil project, done in partnership among ThoughtWorks, PUCRS and the Microsoft-PUCRS Innovation Center. With this as a model, undergraduate and graduate students of the University receive support from experienced professionals for 15 weeks, in order to develop the essential skills to act in high performance software development teams. “This initiative brought ThoughtWorks even closer to students and professors at PUCRS, and created an environment of bilateral learning for the industry and the university”, he adds.
Who said it would be a good idea sharing the same home as HP, Dell and Microsoft? The coexistence of Pandorga with IT global players since 2010 at Tecnopuc gave the company the ambition to win the world. And what is usually seen as something only for the great – entering the global market – started to turn into reality in 2013.
The entrepreneurs arrived to London, capital of the UK, and are helping to pave the way for the internationalization of the Science and Technology Park. The peculiar thing in the audacity of the four partners – Fábio Krohn, Fábio Ellwanger, Hugo Carvalho e Diego Eick Moreira – is that this happened even before Pandorga went to other Brazilian states.
The founders of Pandorga aimed at detaching the company from being defined as having a particular nationality. There was a need to increase the market share, and the young entrepreneurs did not want to follow in the regular footsteps of other regional IT companies, for which the next step would be getting into the São Paulo market. Besides, London, in the European continent, could help them establish a connection to access other regions in the world. “Our dream was to create an international company. We were influenced by Tecnopuc and companies that were located right beside us, like HP and Microsoft”, Krohn says.
Pandorga's flight took off in 2007, in the home of one of the shareholders, in Porto Alegre. The operation joined professionals who used to advise in technology projects in the tax area in the public sector.
The opportunity came after the founders worked in a program supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) aiming at improving systems in the Department of Treasury of the state of Rio Grande do Sul. After their time in the Raiar Business Incubator, at Tecnopuc, the owners of Pandorga fine-tuned the type of business they wanted to develop in the customized software area.
The incubating phase was decisive to test the model and to adjust their focus. “At Raiar, we had simpler costs. It was a time we could make more mistakes and learn”, says the associate-director. For three years, Pandorga was able to mature their work, until they decided that the company was ready for solo flights. The company was then established right there, inside the Park, where it is still today.
Being in the environment brings advantages, such as the opportunity to have direct contact with students and potential collaborators. “We have the commodity of having in our staff students who work here during the day and study at night”, he adds.
second home, new personality
It may seem easy getting into global markets, but it is not. One of the company strategies was investing in the accreditation of people to work with Microsoft Certified Solutions.
“One of our characteristics has always been having certified professionals in technology, a guarantee we brought to our customers here. In the English market, this is not so common, hence it is highly valued”, Krohn says.
The second step was having someone physically present in the country, to be the face of the company, since the English people value this kind of contact. Partner Diego Moreira was chosen for the job, and he moved permanently to London in 2013. As soon as he arrived, he started networking. After six months, he was adjusted to the British culture. With a network of contacts, Moreira started working. Their first client was Fabric Technology. It was a victory, but it only came after he knocked on many doors.
The London office established a relationship with a local partner, Image Hub, and this ensured the complementarity of the service. Another difficulty was translating the name Pandorga to the global business language, English. Paradoxically, this name (a local idiom from the state of Rio Grande do Sul meaning kite in English) was chosen in 2007 precisely to reinforce their origin before the Brazilian market.
With the expansion of borders, the entrepreneurs decided to create an internationalized branch and applied a fine-tuned personality to the undertaking. Pandorga is still Pandorga for the Brazilian media. However, overseas, the company can be addressed as Code Hub.
The change in philosophy is processed internally. One of the decisions made is to reinforce the overseas office, to make it as strong as the headquarters. “The English market is huge for our current dimension, and our strategy still includes having units in other countries”, Krohn says.
Besides, the ever-admired flow of foreign professionals arriving to Tecnopuc to work in IT giants becomes a real possibility at Pandorga. The plan is that people in the unit will be able to migrate to offices into desired markets in the future, creating an environment with a global culture.
In competition with rivals, like the ones from India, the proximity with the local market is a distinction.
“Companies of certain countries may do it for a lower price, but we believe that our virtue is in executing our jobs side by side with the client, as true partners. We offer a premium service and rely on flexibility and creativity, which are characteristics of Brazilians”, Krohn mentions.
The venture overseas has caused a positive, and even unexpected side effect, according to the partners. Potential clients in the Brazilian market have started to perceive Pandorga as a reputable company.
The internal demand for contracts has increased. The diversification reflected in the business results, with 20% to 30% of the annual revenue coming from projects executed for clients and partners abroad. For Krohn, the plan to turn Pandorga into a global company is changing its course.
The move we made to the United Kingdom is permanent, there is no going back from this”, he says.