IBM opens Brazilian research lab

IBM has today announced the opening of a new research lab in Brazil, a joint project between the computer giant and the Brazilian government.

The new lab will be IBM’s ninth in the world and the first in South America, putting Brazil on the map for R&D in the technology field. It has been 12 years since IBM has set up a new research lab, so it must see great potential in the region to justify this kind of investment.

“Brazil’s abundance of natural resources and technical talent presents unique research opportunities and the ability to deploy them to solve increasingly important problems,” said  Dr. John E. Kelly III,  senior vice-president of IBM and director of IBM Research. “The new lab also gives IBM scientists the opportunity to extend their collaboration with universities, government organizations, and companies in Brazil and across Latin America.”

IBM currently has operations in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where new laboratory staff will be fielded immediately. IBM is still in negotiation with the Brazilian government for where it can establish further bases for the new IBM Research branch. It will also be hiring 100 researchers to join the project, adding to the roughly 3,000 staff currently working in the eight other IBM Research centres around the world.

The new lab will focus on researching better ways to discover natural resources, development of new devices using the latest semiconductor technology, and research into new “human systems” that will be used in the Soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olumpic Games in 2016, two major events that Brazil will host. This suggests that IBM wants to become the centre of the hub that will develop in the region for those events.

Brazil’s government was very excited about the announcement. The Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Commerce, Miguel Jorge, said that IBM picked his country because the medium and long-term prospects of Brazil are highly promising due to “economic and institutional solidity”.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Sergio Rezende, believed IBM’s decision “is a consequence of a continuous effort in developing skilled human resources and in fomenting research activities, development and innovation, consolidated by the articulation between the Productive Development Politics and the Science, Technology and Innovation Plan of Action.”

IBM’s general manager of the Brazilian division, Ricardo Pelegrini, said that his company picked Brazil because of the large growth opportunity it sees there.

Our own Fernando Cassia, from Argentina,  had something to say on the matter. He said that IBM has been operating in Argentina since 1933 and employs 7,500 people. “The growth in IT outsourcing in these regions may explain why so many tech firms are taking an interest and why IBM chose South America for its latest research centre.”