Brazil Meets the Valley -- What Did We Learn?

Dean C. Garfield photo

 

Last week, ITI and several of our member companies in Silicon Valley hosted a Brazilian government delegation for a week of discussions and demonstrations designed to create a greater understanding between government and innovators, and to foster a stronger relationship moving forward. ITI’s Dean Garfield takes a look at lessons learned during the visit.

The slowing global economy has intensified the search for sustainable job creation solutions.  This cut -throat competition for jobs has led many markets to adopt protectionist policies that present far-reaching ramifications for global trade.  The fundamental question for the companies impacted by these policies and this country generally is how do we develop a strategy for dealing deal with this quest for jobs -- which is all good -- when it involves a heavy dose of protectionist policies -- which is all bad. 

There is likely no silver-bullet solution to solving this riddle, but, after spending a week with a delegation of senior Brazilian ICT and innovation policy officials, my firm view is that our strategy should incorporate at least three key principles.

First, we must recognize that people matter.  In graduate programs all across the world we are taught that, in “getting to yes,” we should focus on the problem and not the people.  In reality, we should focus on both.  Yes, it is true we need not personalize our challenges with other countries, including China, India, or Brazil.  That said, policies are written and driven by people.  Therefore, getting to know their personalities and the motivation behind their policy decisions is important to informing the solutions we develop.

Second, we must be persistent and specific in raising our concerns and in offering solution.  After spending a week with the Brazilian ministry officials, I have a much deeper understanding of the goals behind their policy, and feel better positioned to have an honest and direct dialogue about the most pernicious aspects of their potentially discriminatory innovation policies.  Change will certainly not occur overnight, but achieving success will be much more likely because of the specificity of our engagement and our willingness to work with the Brazilian to help them achieve their ambitions in a fashion that doesn’t discriminate against U.S. companies.

Finally, we must be mindful of the fact that we remain the model for the rest of the world.  In spite of our own challenges and current slow-growth economy, other markets look to the U.S. as the paragon of policy development, particularly as it relates to innovation.  Other countries focus on the U.S. innovation formula for good reason.  No other country has managed to replicate the entrepreneurial energy created by our integration of university research, disruptive risk taking, mobile human capital, and venture-capital investments.  With the world’s eyes upon us, we must set a good example by developing policies of which we can be proud.  That is of particular import in areas such as cybersecurity, privacy, and Internet governance, which are areas of emphasis for many emerging markets, including Brazil.       

 

For more on this trip, check out:

Bringing Brazil to the Valley, by Maria Medrano

Brazil Meets the Valley -- eBay Hosts the Brazilian Delegation, by Tom Gavin

 

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