In the process of building the Brazilian-American tech hub, BayBrazil has had the privilege to include prominent leaders from various regions, especially Silicon Valley. It’s our pleasure to publish this interview with our very first member: Steve Ciesinski, President, Global Partnerships, SRI International, Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He talks about hosting Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff at SRI and his vision on how Brazil can better foster innovation.
BayBrazil: What was the program for President Rousseff’s visit at SRI?
Steve: Presidente Rousseff was in Silicon Valley to learn more about science an technology and innovation best practices. In particular she was very curious about how to determine the best S&T areas for Brazil to invest in. The areas she was most interested in were education research (especially K-12) and biotechnology (new drugs).
BayBrazil: What are some of the results of this meeting?
Steve:Presidente Rousseff spent well over an hour with SRI. She had many of her cabinet ministers with her. She asked a number of her ministers to follow through and contact us at SRI about developing strategic relationship in education, biosciences and possibly robotic and ITC. Further she was very interested in how Brazil could transition their basic research through the “Valley of Death” to successful commercialization. She would like to see more teaching about this subject in Brazil.
BayBrazil: SRI has already been working on some projects in Brazil. Tell us about the hurdles you’ve identified that are keeping the country from being an innovation leader instead of a follower.
Steve: Well, for starters, Brazil is not known as one of the world leaders in research and development spending ans results. So Presidente Rousseff’s thinking about getting help on this are very accurate. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a full appreciation of how entrepreneurship can lead to more industry growth, new company creation and better and higher-income jobs (as we have seen in the US over the past 40 years). Programs in Brazil are rather tactical in nature, and not part of a long-term public-private strategy and plan.
BayBrazil: How Brazil can better foster innovation?
Steve: Embrace innovation and entrepreneurship at a high level. Encourage Seed/Angel/VC fund formation (like DGF). Continue to build a strong relationship with Silicon Valley. Bring the best Startups here to the Valley to showcase their virtues and growth opportunities. Teach course on entrepreneurship in the business schools and research universities, and make a long-term commitment for the country.
BayBrazil: You were BayBrazil’s first member. When we sent out a message to our distribution list about our membership program, in August of 2012, your registration come up a few minutes later. We were thrilled. It’s an honor to have you as our member and supporter!
Steve: I am so happy to hear this news – I didn’t realize I was the first member until you mention this now! I mention to Presidente Rousseff that Baybrazil has been doing incredible work for Brazil here in Silicon Valley and you should be complimented for you passion and loyalty. Your programs are fantastic!