The Startup Scene is Heating Up in Minas Gerais

Minas Gerais is home of two exciting new initiatives: state-funded accelerator SEED and an entrepreneurship and innovation program out of Stanford.

Brazil’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is gaining momentum in a perhaps less obvious locale: Minas Gerais. The Brazilian state, the capital of which, Belo Horizonte, caught the Economist’s eye back in April, is the home of two exciting new initiatives. One, a state-funded accelerator. The other, a Stanford program.

Here are the details on both.

SEED, a State-Level Start-Up Program

Startups and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development – SEED – is a brand new startup acceleration program to boost activity in Minas Gerais. It aims to strengthen the local entrepreneurial culture, accelerate ecosystem development and foster innovation close to home.

seedThe plan is for the program to roll out in two phases, each lasting six months and including 40 startups. Each project will receive seed capital, the amount of which will be determined by team size. Two-person teams will receive R$68,000 (US$30,000), and three-person teams will receive R$80,000 (US$35,000). As is the protocol with these types of initiatives, startups will also get mentoring, education, networking opportunities and co-working space. One differentiator: SEED won’t take any equity.

Much along the lines of Start-Up Chile and Start-Up Brasil, SEED seeks to establish a location – in its case, Minas Gerais – as a tech hub. Program organizers believe that they key to achieving this will be entrepreneurs. The accelerator’s launch announcement reads:

The program sees the entrepreneur as the most important disruption agent to bring about innovation and transformation in the region. For this reason, SEED is offering all of the above benefits in exchange for the program participants to share their entrepreneurial spirit through workshops and presentations, helping to develop an entrepreneurial community that inspires big ideas, generates innovative businesses, and ultimately creates successful startups.

SEED is open to early-stage startups from Brazil and abroad. Applicants must be able to live and work in Belo Horizonte for the program’s six-month duration and have the potential and willingness to contribute to the local startup ecosystem.

Submissions to take part in the first SEED acceleration round are now being accepted. The deadline is October 17th. You can find out more here.

Stanford Meets San Pedro Valley

Come April 2014, 20 Minas Gerais companies will embark on a Stanford University program on entrepreneurship and innovation, reports Startupi.

Two members of each startup will be invited to participate. They’ll spend one week at Stanford at the program’s kickoff, after which they will return to Brazil to work from there. A few Stanford professors will then travel to Brazil at the program’s end.

The companies that will take part in the Stanford initiative will be defined in December, but thus far, no specific selection criteria have been laid out.

Why Minas Gerais? The state’s tech scene is gaining momentum. It boasts over 5,000 businesses and 33,000 professionals tied to the IT sector, generating around two billion Brazilian reals each year. Not bad.