The trip has come to an end. We are leaving Brazil to head back to the Netherlands. Early in the morning we drove to Recife because we fly from there. Once in recife we boarded the plane at around six in the evening to arrive in Lissabon at around six in the morning. In Lissabon we had fourteen hours of transit time. Enough to explore the city and thus we went.
Today we headed off to a windpower park located around two hours from the center of natal. The park is the second largest windpower park in the entirety of Brazil. After a presentation of the company responsible we went to see one of the giants and even went into one.
In the evening we had our last supper with the hosts Bruno and Aluizio at a traditional Brazilian Churrascaria.
Thursday was a day full of interesting companies and research. In the morning we visited the local electorial court where they presented us interesting projects concerning the registration of purposes.
Time flies when you are having fun so we went for a quick bite across the police station to afterwards visit the federal police office. The police gave us the oppertunity to take a look into the digital forensics department and all research groups got valuable information.
Finally we gave a brief visit to the biggest oil company in Brazil Petrobras. A presentation was shown that gave insight in the security policies of the company.
Dinner was enjoyed at the local forro bar. Forro is a traditional brazilian dance and everyone in the group enjoyed the dance and the ambiance.
This wednesday we spent the morning at the IMD building again. We had an interview session with undergraduate students and a presentation of a very entrepreneural master student: Ystallonne Alves.
Ystallonne presented the two startup companies he is currently working on: AmazingTech and Agromarra. The first startup’s goal was to improve the efficiency in healthcare patient allocation. Although 95 percent of the patients in theory could have a bed, this target is rarely obtained. Agromarro is a tool for farmers to keep track of information about livestock, without the need for farmers to be proficient in reading or writing (Portuguese).
After a quick lunch in the mall we suited up to go to the regional tax office. Once there we were quite overdressed, we were not the only one noticing the Brazilian weather is not made for suits. We got a tour of their IT department and an opportunity to talk to several members of the IT staff. They told us about their future plans to create a system that keeps track of purchases on a personal basis.
Today, as per usual, we started off with a quick but fullfilling breakfast. After that we drove to the UFRN campus for a morning interview session with master students. They told us their experience regarding the different research topics and their personal opinions.
In the afternoon we went for a lunch at the local student cafeteria, which we (surprisingly) all survived. Next on was a visit to the biggest, at least they claim, cashew tree, and the Natal space center. Although the space center museum was small and unimpressive, the cashew tree definitely met all of our childhood expectations. During the trip a fresh addition to the group also joined: Alyson and Rafaela, they proved to be quite excellent translators for the next couple of days.
We signed off today with a nice restaurant. The food served was one of the best we had in the entire trip. With a content feeling we headed back to the hotel.
On the first research day after the weekend we drove to the incubator again to hear presentations of a startup called WebOne system. WebOne system develops web interfaces to medical imaging and is creating a data collection frontend for IoT sensors. All the research groups could get valuable information from the company since their work touches all research areas.
After the lunch is the local campus cantine we listened to presentations abouth the work of LogAp and RoboEduc. Next to the before mentioned companies we were also invited to talk to other startups employees that were available at that time. In the end of the day, when the information level was saturated, we went back to the hotel to saturate the more carnal needs at restaurants in the local mall.
On the first day of the weekend we took a guided tour to Brazil’s most famous beach called Pipa. While going to the beach we stopped at several hotspots to take pictures, visit authentic markets and have lunch. At last we reached the beach where we took a boattrip to spot dolphins. After a fresh dive in the sea from the boat we retreated to the hotel once more.
On sunday we went for a trip to Ponta Negra, the main beach of Natal. As the last day of the weekend and the second time at the beach this day consisted mainly of the good things in life: swimming, relaxing, eating and drinking.
Today we visited IMD of UFRN, the university’s incubator. After the guided tour through the building we were enriched by a presentation about the work of the incubator followed by presentations and information about companies in their incubation process. We saw several start-ups having products ranging form solar powered wifi-hotspots to educational robotics. In the afternoon we visited a fort located on outskirts of Natal, the fort was the first landing place for the Portuguese when the landed here to found the city. When we returned to the car we enjoyed a freshly cut open coconut and we paid a brief visit to the beach.
After a good (well-deserved) night of sleep we started of with a nice breakfast at 9 before checking out our surroundings. Our first meeting consisted of a tour around the UFRN campus, while Erik Barendsen and Simone Meeuwsen had a meeting with the vice-president of the university. When we regrouped we enjoyed the first official opportunity to answer our research questions. Teachers and employees of Superintendência de Informática (UFRNs C&CZ) showed us projects they developed together with students and their brand new data center. Finally, we debriefed after a dinner in the food court of the local mall.
After months of anticipation and preparation we embarked on an adventurous trip to Natal, Brazil. Early in the morning at 00:00 we drove to Frankfurt. Despite strikes in airports in Germany our flight was perfectly on time and we could board after 4 hours of waiting. The flight to Lissabon took a meager two hours and once we arrived in Lissabon we had to wait another 5 hours before we could head off for Brazil. Eventually after 24 hours of travel we were picked up by our hosts at Natal airport. Nothing beats the feeling of getting hit by the tropical warmth with a jetlag so our journey could finally begin…