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Toronto builds bridges with Brazil: Local benefits of global events

Toronto builds bridges with Brazil: Local benefits of global events

Posted by Bruce McDougall on March 19, 2015

While the province of Ontario prepares to welcome Latin American participants and spectators to the Pan Am & Parapan American Games next year, its capital, Toronto, has successfully lured entrepreneurs from Latin America, who see opportunities in the city for extending the global reach of their businesses.

Supported by organizations such as the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment and federal-government trade offices in South America, companies like Coach IT and Project-1, both based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, joined businesses from India, China, Netherlands, Switzerland, U.S., UK and Israel last year in opening offices in Toronto.

Coach IT provides consulting services related to SAP enterprise software for managing business operations and customer relations. Founded in Brazil in 2002, Coach had already expanded to Spain, when it opened an office in Mississauga, a suburb west of Toronto. The company aims to become known globally as one of the largest Brazilian providers of IT services by 2023, and Toronto is an important step toward its objective.

Another Sao Paulo company called PROJECT-1 “aims to bridge the gap between start-ups and corporate firms looking to foster innovation with investment, mentoring, advising, and networking services in Brazil and the South American market,” according to its founder, Ricardo Sodre.

Sodre already had five startups under development in Sao Paulo when he turned his attention to Ontario to assess the province’s engineering and programming talent and leading-edge technology. Now operating from a city-sponsored incubator near Toronto’s waterfront, Project-1 recently invested in an enterprise technology platform called Readyportal, developed in Toronto by a U.S. company, Debut Logic Inc.

By coincidence, Debut Logic is yet another example of Toronto’s appeal to global entrepreneurs. Founded in 2006 by a graduate of the University of Houston, in Texas, named Rajiv Chatterjee, Debut Logic currently operates from offices in Toronto, San Francisco and Sao Paulo. Chatterjee moved to Toronto to build his own software company after 9/11, which “changed everything for me,” he says. “I didn’t want to live (in the U.S.) anymore.”

Serving organizations ranging from one-person companies to the City of Amsterdam and the U.S. Department of Education, Chatterjee’s software had attracted seven clients in South America before he opened an office in Sao Paolo with the help of Project-1.

Project-1 located in Toronto with the help of Invest Toronto, the city’s business, sales and marketing corporation.  According to Renato Descenza, former Invest Toronto’s president and CEO, Toronto has been rated by the World Economic Forum and The Reputation Institute as the number-one city in the world in which people would like to live and work, with the soundest banking system in the world for six consecutive years, and the second most business-friendly environment in the Americas.

“It’s an ideal investment destination for small businesses and large corporations,” he says.

As for Sodre, a former advertising executive in Sao Paulo, he plans to raise $10 million through his corporate and financial contacts in Brazil to commercialize 20 to 25 Ontario companies over the next three years and get them up and running in his country. “My research showed me that, while Ontario has talent on a par with Silicon Valley, there is 70% less funding available for Ontario startups,” he said in an interview for Ontario’s Technology Corridor website. “Enter the fast-growth, high demand Brazilian market to fill that commercialization gap.”

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