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Brazil IT trade bodies call for government support

"We don't want to be like India," says head of IT association in Rio.

One of the biggest IT industry events in Brazil kicks off on Monday to generate business and discuss the need to create better public policies to support the local tech sector.

Given that the presidential elections are taking place next month, the Rio Info conference will center its debates around the the ways in which the government could — or should — support the sector, as well as providing a networking environment for more than 120 IT providers and buyers.

The head of the IT trade union of the state of Rio de Janeiro (TI Rio) and organizer of the conference, Benito Paret, told magazine Info that not only more government investment is needed to support and promote the industry, but also better plans to develop technology skills locally.

"We don't want to be like India, with devalued salaries. We want to be able to develop innovative and competitive solutions," Paret said, adding that since TI Maior, a strategic program focused on boosting the Brazilian software and the IT services industry, was launched in 2012, has made little progress since its inception.

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The TI Maior program was launched with a budget of R$486mi ($220mi), intended for initiatives including partnerships with international companies for the creation of R&D centers in Brazil in order to meet the demand for higher-level technology skills.

Delivering technology-related results in government is clearly not an easy task, considering that there have been three science and technology ministers in Brazil over the last three years. In January, former minister Marco Antonio Raupp announced technology priorities for the country  — only to be replaced the month after.

The current incumbent, Clelio Campolina, was appointed with a clear remit of defining technology priorities for Brazil and delivering them fast . When taking over the job, Campolina said that one of his key areas of attention will be policies to boost the creation of science and tech skills.

"Creating a policy of human resources development is an absolute priority. Brazil already has very advanced academic programs in that field, but they need to be supplemented mainly by [improvements in] basic education and an interface with businesses," Campolina said at the time.

"The journey is not easy. It takes political and social awareness of these issues, as well as acting objectively and permanently to seize opportunities, which is only possible with a great deal of determination and hard work," he added.