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Mr. Math

Mechanical engineer Fernando Orsatti gave up teaching to open an applied mathematics company

Eduardo CesarIn 2009, during his postdoctoral work at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli-USP), mechanical engineer Fernando Orsatti realized that he could apply the knowledge he acquired as a professor and researcher to solving operational problems of companies. Along with three friends, all Poli-USP graduates, he founded Mínimo, a company that develops computational systems to solve problems that require some type of mathematical modeling. This may include anything from implementing artificial intelligence algorithms for detecting credit card fraud to systems that optimize the distribution and logistics process.

Orsatti completed his undergraduate studies in 2003 and immediately began working on his doctorate to study interconnected network systems, such as those that manage financial transaction systems. These systems are important because they are capable of remaining synchronized and stable even when one or more of the network systems fail. In 2007, after finishing his PhD, one of his professors, mechanical engineer Agenor de Toledo Fleury, invited him to teach mechanical vibration and modeling to undergraduate and master’s students in the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program at the University Center of FEI in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo State.

In 2011 he was invited to work on setting up an innovation engineering program for the São Paulo Engineers Association. After this work, Orsatti helped develop the engineering program at Insper, a private institution of higher learning in São Paulo. “That was when I began to transition from my research and teaching activities to being a service provider for companies,” he says. Beginning in 2016, Orsatti devoted himself to Mínimo exclusively. He explains that the company intends to bridge the gap between the academic and corporate universes. “Our job is to meet corporate requirements through a knowledge of advanced mathematics, and we bring together technical specialization and a mastery of the basics of mathematics to solve complex problems.”

At first the challenge was to establish and carve out the area in which the firm would work. “Because this service is not very common in the market, it took some time for us to package it properly and find clients.” One client is Buscapé, which has a price and product comparison website. There is also Intercement, a cement manufacturer, as well as Saúde Criança de São Paulo (São Paulo Children’s Health), a nongovernmental organization. More recently, the company obtained FAPESP funding through the Innovative Research in Small Businesses Program (PIPE) to develop a class scheduling system for teachers to replace a manual process. “We hope to strengthen the firm as a service provider in the area of mathematical modeling to increase its visibility in the market.”