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South Korean electronics giant Samsung will channel US$5mn into Brazil over a five-year period to finance startups and support the country's digital entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The initiative is part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the area of technology cooperation inked in capital Brasília between Brazilian science and technology minister Aldo Rebelo and his Korean counterpart, Choi Yanghee.
The MoU is one of the first fruits of a package of nine bilateral deals signed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday. Another MoU was signed by Yanghee and communications minister Ricardo Berzoini.
The agreements cover the areas of 5G, Internet of Things, big data, smart cities and nuclear energy, among others.
BNamericas revealed last week a major Samsung deal was expected during Geun-hye's visit.
In Brazil, Samsung will pump US$5mn into the local association of bodies that promote innovative projects, Anprotec, a private institution formed by more than 300 incubators, tech parks, startup accelerators and R&D firms.
Founded in 1987 and a long-established partner of the science and technology ministry, Anprotec has a network of more than 2,500 startups, of which 55% are tech-based and therefore eligible to join a program that the Samsung money will support, Anprotec president Francilene Garcia said.
"Our idea is to develop a model of startup selection and funding similar to that of Start-up Brasil," Garcia told BNamericas. "The objective will be the jumpstart, the initial funding, what we call 'cement capital.'" Garcia expects the project to be launched this year.
Anprotec will work with the Korean Creative Economy and Innovation Center (CCEI) in the selection and training of startups. The idea is that CCEI brings the "Korean model" of creative economy to Brazil, Samsung director for Latin America Pedro Kim said during the deal-signing ceremony in Brasília.
"This is a tri-party collaboration to boost digital economy and innovation," added CCEI president Sunil Kim.
Antonio Marcon, R&D director at Samsung Brasil, said this is the first Samsung initiative in Latin America concerning startups.
"We have similar startup and digital entrepreneurship-supporting actions only in Silicon Valley," Marcon told BNamericas.
It will also be the first time the CCEI model is used outside of South Korea. There are currently 17 CCEI centers in South Korea to boost the country's startup ecosystems.
Science and technology secretary Virgilio Almeida told BNamericas that Brazil and Korea will work together in the areas of software development, digital technology and startups and, eventually, run student exchange schemes under Brazil's science without borders program.