Rio de Janeiro
"Brazil has an open and diversified economy and is the most active startup ecosystem in Latin America. As a result, it continues to produce startup success stories and unicorns. Rio de Janeiro is one of the nation's most dynamic cities, and is an exciting prospect for angel investors and entrepreneurs."
Internationally known for its beautiful beaches and thriving cultural scene, Rio de Janeiro is also an important business hub and the home of a rapidly growing startup scene. Rio de Janeiro boasts a highly diversified economy and many national and international companies, including Petrobrás and the National Economic and Social Development Bank, have their headquarters in the city. Owing to its port, many of Brazil’s export-import companies are also headquartered here. While Rio de Janeiro’s startup ecosystem may still be smaller than the scene in buzzing São Paulo, local authorities have made huge efforts to make the city attractive to young, tech-savvy talent and improved both security and infrastructure in recent years.
The first edition of Web Summit Rio took place in May 2023, indicating the ecosystem’s growing reputation as a startup hub. A European tech calendar event each year, Web Summit is now also the largest tech event in Brazil. Rio Innovation Week also takes place in October, and Rio2C 2023 gathered creative industry professionals in April. The Global Sustainable Technology and Innovation Conference is another Rio de Janeiro annual event.
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro ranked #8 in the QS Latin America University Rankings 2023, providing a stream of educated talent to the ecosystem. The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro is the largest federal university in Brazil and is also well regarded for its teaching and research. Notable funding news includes healthcare platform Conexa Saude’s $40 million Series C in June 2022, and digital bank NG.CASH’s $10 million August 2022 seed round.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
In December 2022, Brazil passed a crypto-regulation bill that includes creating a virtual service provider license for digital asset companies, including exchanges. Shortly after, Crypto.com became the first crypto exchange to receive approval for its EMI license in Brazil. Hashtown in Rio houses companies and investors from the international crypto community, including Valor Capital, NFT company W3block, and Blockchain infrastructure firm Parfin. In 2023, Rio de Janeiro became the first Brazilian city to accept crypto payments for property taxes.
AI, Big Data & Analytics
In February 2023, researchers from the Centre for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro unveiled an AI-powered early warning system for new disease outbreaks. Big Data analytics SaaS platform Cortex raised a $50 million Series C in September 2022.
Rio de Janeiro’s 50-year Neutral Carbon Rio Strategy sets a goal for the city to achieve carbon neutrality by 2065. In January 2023, regional entrepreneurship acceleration Program MIT Reap held a workshop in Rio de Janeiro with the aim of transforming the city into a “Silicon Valley for sustainability.” MIT Reap Rio will invest $60 million in training, acceleration, and other support measures for Cleantech startups.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Rio de Janeiro
In 2021, the Brazilian government passed Bill 146/2019, broadly known as Legal Framework for Start-ups, to encourage investment in startups and improve the business environment in the country. The law enables regulatory bodies to grant special authorization to startups to test new technologies and business models for a fixed period of time and with a restricted number of consumers.
In 2022, Brazil established a digital nomad visa that allows foreign remote workers and self-employed individuals to live in the country for one year with the possibility of extension. Brazil boasts one of the world’s most diverse cultures due to a history of various waves of colonization and immigration and Rio de Janeiro is the nation’s cultural center, known for its lively festivals.
Wide Range of Industries
Rio de Janeiro is home to a well-established and highly diversified economy, providing large-scale employment in both heavy and light industry, manufacturing, commerce, finance, trade, and other service sectors. Combined with the strong import and export opportunities provided by the port, there is much opportunity for startups to collaborate with existing companies and to spot opportunities for innovation in established industries.
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