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Fast track to success

Intel acquires a company founded by former Unicamp students

Daniel BuenoThe partnership of Gustavo Svertuzt Barbieri, 31, and Ulysses Furquim Freire da Silva, 32, began in 2004 at the University of Campinas (Unicamp). Barbieri was studying computer engineering, Freire was working on a master’s degree in computer science, and both were members of a group that was developing free Linux software. Freire was part of the team that was a two-time Unicamp finalist in the annual programming Olympiad of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in the United States, in which universities from all over the world competed. “This is a team competition in which computing problems are presented, to be solved in two steps, one in South America, and the other elsewhere,” he says. Attending congresses and conferences in the area was also part of the students’ routine.

In 2006, they were invited to work at the Nokia Technology Institute in Recife, in the state of Pernambuco, where they spent two years developing software for mobile phones. “When we started working at Nokia, we attended more international conferences where we presented work,” Barbieri says. On those occasions, they realized that there were opportunities in the market, since companies interested in developing software often approached them. “In 2008 after two years at Nokia, we decided to found a company to develop software for embedded systems,” Barbieri says. Resolve, available time and experience, in addition to essential support from parents, were the engines that created Profusion Embedded Systems, in Campinas.

Ulysses Freire (left) and Gustavo Barbieri: a partnership that worked

Gustavo Barbieri Ulysses Freire (left) and Gustavo Barbieri: a partnership that workedGustavo Barbieri

Professor Rodolfo Jardim de Azevedo, who counsels students working on masters and doctorate degrees in computer science at Unicamp, introduced the first customer, a businessman from São José dos Campos, in the interior of the state of São Paulo. The businessman commissioned a converter for digital TV, a technology that had just been rolled out in Brazil. Shortly thereafter, the company began working on projects with Samsung for mobile phones with a HTML5 engine used in web browsers. In less than a year, Profusion, which started with four employees, had nine. At the same time, Electrolux submitted a request to develop programming modules with a recipe book, a calendar and a list of contacts for a touch-sensitive control panel. The innovation was incorporated into a two-door refrigerator known as iKitchen, released at Christmas in 2010. The project was carried out in a partnership with the Curitiba plant. “We worked on the entire software component and they worked on the electrical and mechanical engineering component,” Freire says.

Intel, a multinational technology company, announced in February of this year that it would acquire Profusion, the first and, so far, the only company it has acquired in Brazil. At the time of the announcement, one of the executives said the company’s group of developers, consisting of several former Unicamp students, had caught Intel’s eye in the United States. “They needed more manpower, with exclusivity,” says Freire. “Intel acquired Profusion to continue to do what it had always done.” Barbieri and Freire are still with the company, integrated into the multinational’s global technology center, with the same team and at the same site. “The team is growing significantly and now there are 35 of us,” Barbieri notes. “The technology center’s philosophy is very similar to the philosophy of our company. It was a perfect match.”