The Brazilian government has announced it will put R$8.8mi ($ 4.3mi) towards the growth of creative industries within Recife's Porto Digital, one of the largest tech parks in the country.
In operation since 2000, Porto Digital is based in the capital of the state of Pernambuco (2672 km northeast of São Paulo) and is home to 150 IT firms that generated about R$ 1bi ($488 mi) in 2012. Companies based at the cluster work on technology areas ranging from urban mobility to neural networks and artificial intelligence for finance and banking, as well as security and outsourcing.
Provided by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), the new funding is a major boost to the expansion plan of Porto Digital into a center of excellence for the so-called creative industries, which include games, audiovisual, music and design ventures.
Porto Mídia, the new facility, will be based at an old convent currently in ruins, which will be totally revamped with the new cash injection and will include labs, offices and incubators. The building renovation will take two years, but operation will commence at a temporary facility in July this year.
The new center will become "one of the most important platforms for the fostering of creative industries in Brazil," Porto Digital's director Francisco Saboya told Brazilian news agency Agência Estado.
Porto Digital's strategy unites the creation of a high-tech economy for the state of Pernambuco with the redevelopment of the old center of Recife - the project is directly responsible for giving a new lease of life to about 50,000 square meters of historic buildings. The body running the tech cluster - a joint effort of the private sector, government and academia - is also working on building skills for the tech industry and driving digital inclusion, with initiatives focused on local high school children.
The expansion of the Recife tech park is important because it further recognizes the need for large tech clusters outside the southeast region of the country - the city of São Paulo and the region of Campinas, also in the state of São Paulo, as well as Rio de Janeiro are still the largest centers of technology investment and excellence in Brazil.
Tech companies based outside these core areas often face all manner of challenges, including lack of skilled manpower, fewer networking opportunities and difficulties around attending relevant events and getting in front of possible investors, who are often based in the big cities.
The creation of Porto Digital and technology clusters in other parts of Brazil such as Florianópolis, in the southern state of Santa Catarina, are showing that it is possible to create better conditions for new, innovative companies to emerge - and the success of these initiatives, as well as more financial support from the federal government may well mean that other states will follow suit.