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I have just returned from Brazil where I was invited to participate in the LatinDisplay 2012 / IDRC 2012 event. In addition to the presentation of SID-type posters and educational seminars, leaders of Brazil’s government and institutional partners were assembled to learn more about the display industry in general and to hear form an international panel of experts who were invited to participate. These experts were there partly to provide some advice on how Brazil can develop a domestic display industry. I videoed many of these experts and you can learn more about what they had to say but checking out the videos as we post them. In this column, I would like to provide my own advice.
First of all, why should we care about Brazil? I don’t have all the facts and figures, but as I recall, I believe the country will soon have 100 million people representing a significant market for anything display-oriented. The economy is stable and growing and there is a lot of enthusiasm for the new government, which is trying to develop many new industries including displays. It is also rich in land, resources and an educated workforce. But, it is also a bureaucratic country where rules and regulations can stymie development. On the other hand, there are agencies like Investe Sao Paulo whose job is to help International companies to locate in the state and they will help cut the red tape, offer tax incentives and more to lure business there. I also had a chance to visit the Brazil Business Park, a modern industrial complex designed to attract manufacturers with lots of incentives and up to date facilities. The message is clear – Brazil wants your manufacturing operation. And with high tariffs on many imported products, this is way they hope to enable local companies or subsidiaries to produce goods at lower costs for its consumers.
So, having listened to what all the experts had to say, including a nice panel discussion led by Ken Werner, I would like to synthesize this info with a few thoughts of my own. Overall, I would like to suggest that Brazil consider establishing both 5- and 10-year strategic plans with specific goals and objectives.
The five-year plan should focus on developing a display-based industry that can lead to immediate jobs and operations. In this phase, Brazil should focus on display technologies and markets where the barriers to entry are lower. Display technologies like segmented displays, e-paper displays and smaller-sized TFT LCDs make the most sense. Brazil should also focus on markets where they already have a strong industry with needs for these types of displays. Examples include portable consumer electronics, medical, aerospace, automotive and retail. Focus on markets where the volumes are small to medium as it will take time to develop the expertise to support high volume panel manufacturing. Development of back end assembly and related display technologies should also be a focus of this 5-year plan
The 10-year plan can focus on developing the infrastructure, both physical and human, needed to create a long-term display-based manufacturing, development research infrastructure. This would also include development of components needed to support high volume and state of the art manufacturing of products like TVs, monitors, laptops, tablets and smartphones, including the flat panel display itself. This phase needs to include development of a robust academic display program as well as practical industrial training in displays, including manufacturing.
A key part of this plan should be the establishment of a display center of excellence. This should be supported by government, industry and academia and offer both short term and long term plan support. This is a vital institute for development of materials, display devices, and manufacturing processes. This knowledge can then be transferred to industry as it matures.
By identifying the key industries and players who have the most to gain from a strong domestic display industry – including consumers, it should be possible to form alliances and business interest to support these plans as there is great opportunity in Brazil.
That is my recommendation based on what I heard, saw and discussed with people at the LatinDisplay 2012 conference.