On October 20, 2015, Silicon Valley innovation and entrepreneurship specialist and Professor of the University of California Berkeley and Brown University, Naeem Zafar, pronounced the keynote address of the top business event in Bahia, the “Agenda Bahia.” Now in its sixth edition, “Agenda Bahia” is jointly organized by “Rede Bahia,” the largest media conglomerate in Northeast Brazil, and the Bahia Federation of Industries (FIEB), and focused on the theme “The Future of the Job Market and the Value of Labor.” 400 state and local government officials, businesspeople, corporate executives, innovation specialists, scientists, lawyers, academics, members of business umbrella organizations, students and journalists attended the event.
In his opening speech, U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro James Story spoke about U.S.-Brazil bilateral efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. According to him, quality education, R&D financing, tax incentives, good governance, open and competitive markets, economic regulation, and IPR protection are key elements to promote an environment that can foster innovation, entrepreneurship and technological development.
Prof. Naeem Zafar’s keynote address focused on “Lessons from Silicon Valley: The Digital Era in the Transformation of Business and Labor.” He discussed how social media and technological integration are driving the Shared Economy and the Internet of Things, which according to him will produce a revolution of “tsunami” proportions in world economics. Prof. Zafar also believes that labor will be strongly impacted in the near future, with a far greater focus on specialist jobs, the demise of middle management and permanent jobs slowly disappearing. In his opinion, this revolution will bring about major increases in efficiency and productivity, enhanced sustainability, and at the same time will bring about tremendous new economic opportunities for those who embrace and capitalize on the new trends.
Agenda Bahia received major media coverage. Prior to his arrival in Brazil, Prof. Zafar gave an interview to Correio newspaper, which resulted in a two-page story published on Oct. 15. On the day of the event, Consul General Story and Prof. Zafar gave additional interviews to TV Bahia (open TV), CBN Radio and Correio newspaper.
On October 19, the day prior to Agenda Bahia, Prof. Zafar visited the Bahia Technological Park and SENAI’s Integrated Campus for Manufacturing and Technology (CIMATEC). He heard a series presentations about the Bahia innovation ecosystem, and did guided tours of both institutions, including a visit to the largest super-computer in Latin America. Later, Prof. Zafar participated in a roundtable discussion with 30 professors, officials from the Bahia State Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation, and members of the Brazilian Service of Support to Micro and Small Businesses (SEBRAE), the National Service of Industry (SENAI), FIEB and CIMATEC, when he shared his impressions about what he had seen during the day and presented a series of suggestions to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Bahia. At the end of the day, Prof. Zafar spoke about “The Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystem” to 300 professors, innovation and startup specialists, scientists, professionals, students and entrepreneurs from CIMATEC.