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nov 28, 2017

Brazil is the chosen home for Facebook’s first innovation school

On October 2, Estação Hack opened its doors in São Paulo. The center, whose name translated to ‘Hack Station’, hopes to stimulate technological innovation for more than 7,000 entrepreneurs annually. But it’s more significant than even its size alone may reveal: Estação Hack is funded and created by Facebook.

The social media megalith hopes that the center will provide a space for stimulating Brazilians in the country’s growing entrepreneurial scene. Facebook has never attempted to create something like Estação Hack before, calling it an “unprecendented” investment plan for the country.

"The [Estação Hack space] is an investment in the future of Brazil, said Diego Dzodan, vice president of Facebook and Instagram for Latin America. “We want to offer Brazilians who want to innovate the tools to do this."

More than a generic tech and innovation center, though, Estação Hack wants to support approximately 7,400 entrepreneurs a year whose projects are specifically aimed at social disruption and impact.

Competition for a place is expected to be fierce, with selected start-ups receiving a six-month residence program. Those gaining a place will be able to take advantage of free programming and entrepreneurship courses and career planning workshops, among other benefits.

But in addition to the anticipated mentoring and business advice services that often come as a part of start-up incubator packages, Facebook is able to offer another exclusive advantage: access to its own infrastructure, which allowed it to become a world leader in technology.

"We want to reinforce our commitment to Brazil and, therefore, we will make an unprecedented investment here," said Dzodan. "We will help train young Brazilians for some of the professions of the future, within an environment that stimulates innovation."

In particular, Facebook says it will be looking for social projects that utilize technology across areas of employability, education, data security, civic engagement, financial services and micro-entrepreneurship.

Brazilians and Facebook alike are hopeful that the investment will help the newest generation of Brazilian workers – well-educated and technology-literate – to take their skills to the next level. Nor is Facebook the first of the big tech firms to recognise Brazil’s potential to contribute to the global tech and innovation community on a large scale; the firm’s investment is preceded by Alphabet Inc, which opened a Google Campus in São Paulo last year.

Applications and submissions for a space in Facebook’s campus are now closed, with the first group of participants set to begin their activities in January 2018