Silicon Valley
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Technology mecca Silicon Valley has turned its sights south. Latin America has become the newest target for California’s most innovative companies, which see the region as a prime place to bring their knowledge (and dollars).

Several countries, particularly Brazil and Chile, have started government-funded programs in an effort to attract more investment to their start-ups. Brazil has developed TI Maior, a strategic program from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, which will invest $250 million to attract international companies to establish technology research centers.

Relevance Media, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in audiovisual tools for branding, was selected by the TI Maior program.

“Brazil is a huge opportunity for companies like Facebook, Twitter or Google -- an emerging market with a 200 million population,” said Jesse Martínez, who co-founded Relevance Media with his brother Ed.

With the $100,000 awarded by the program, the company will secure its launch in the South American country.

In Chile, a regional pioneer in government programs, 670 companies from 64 countries have taken part in StartUp Chile, which was launched in 2010. Through the program, international companies and their employees are given economic incentives, including year-long work visas.

Another program, Contact Chile, which puts businesses in contact with one another internationally, has helped 100 companies last year.

Along with these endeavors, various companies not funded by the government have also started programs. Google and UPS, along with crowd funding sites Indiegogo and Kickstarter, have established centers in Santiago to train Chilean entrepreneurs to achieve investment via the Web.

On a smaller scale, Colombia is also taking part, according to website VentureBeat. Colombia has an advantage over other Latin American countries due to its good relationship with the U.S. and its strategic position in South America.