Rio de Janeiro

Gioia Deucher to lead swissnex Brazil

swissnex San Francisco’s Head of Startup Services, Gioia Deucher, is appointed to lead a new swissnex office—in Brazil! In October, she moves to Rio de Janeiro to build a team and launch the Swiss outpost. Deucher, who speaks Portuguese and has spent significant time in Brazil over the years, will be tasked with strengthening ties between Switzerland and the strong South American nation in the fields of science, technology, and innovation. We asked her a few questions about her new post:

Gioia Deucher

Gioia Deucher

Q: Why a swissnex in Brazil and not somewhere else?

A: Brazil is not only a rising economic powerhouse but it is also investing actively in strengthening its innovation ecosystem. Strong technical universities (such as the ITA for aeronautical studies), combined with a rapidly growing middle class, a gigantic domestic market and abundant natural resources make Brazil a premier partner for Switzerland when it comes to research, education and startup collaborations.

With a bilateral agreement in place since 2009, Brazil is one of the priority countries for Switzerland’s international education, research and innovation (ERI) policy, and the size and potential of the country merits a swissnex presence there.

Q: What do you think your biggest challenge will be as Founder of swissnex Brazil?

A: One of the first tasks will be to build a strong and relevant network of local ERI representatives who can provide relevant knowhow and expertise, and can function as multipliers to rapidly build a relevant pool of partners and supporters.

Having experienced first-hand how open and generous Brazilians tend to be, and relying on my Portuguese language skills, I believe my main challenge will be on the other side of the ocean—in Switzerland. In order to build a sixth swissnex outpost that adds tangible value to the Swiss innovation ecosystem, I suspect that some of Brazil’s clichés could stand in the way of fully grasping the potential the country has in ERI. Identifying opportunities and making these known and understood with Swiss stakeholders will hence be key.

Q: Greatest potential of swissnex Brazil?

A: The priority areas for research and education cooperation between Brazil and Switzerland are health, neurosciences, energy and environment. Within those areas, there will be ample space to set up projects and further the exchange of talent and knowledge between the two countries, including through the Brazilian student exchange program Science without Borders.

At the intersection of art and technology, or art and science, institutions such as Oi Futuro and Inhotim provide promising space for experimentation with Swiss counterparts.

Finally, I see a lot of potential for setting up a bridge for Swiss startups to discover and succeed in the Brazilian market. Indeed, Brazil has a rapidly growing and very dynamic startup scene. Programs such as Startup Brazil, which provides funding and visas for foreign entrepreneurs, could indeed be a very interesting proposition for Swiss entrepreneurs who look to expand into Latin American markets.