The latest round of start-up specialists has started arriving in Chile, as part of the country’s plan to turn Chile into a center of entrepreneurship and innovation in Latin America. The goal is to attract young technical talent and entrepreneurs to the Start-Up Chile program and increase foreign investment through the umbrella organization InvestChile.
“We want Chile to be like the Singapore of Latin America, a place where investors want to do business,” explained CEO of Corfo InvestChile, Juan Antonio Figueroa, during a conference organized by Fundación Imagen de Chile.
To achieve this objective, he announced, they will soon open four new offices in the United States (New York), Germany, Brazil, and France. The agency already has offices in Spain, Italy, India, and China, which will provide expert advice.
The target proposed by InvestChile for 2011 is $155 billion of foreign direct investment, as well as hopes to capture new projects worth an estimated $260 million. Created in 2000, InvestChile has contributed to the realization of more than $2.4 billion in domestic and foreign investment and the generation of more than 40,000 new jobs.
One of the ways the country is boosting innovation has been the program Start Up Chile, an initiative created by the Ministry of Economy with Corfo, which seeks to attract high-potential entrepreneurs to settle in the country and to use it as a platform for global business.
After a successful pilot with 23 teams of entrepreneurs last year, the agency expects 300 teams this year, whose first 100 began arriving in Chile in June. They come from 28 countries and prestigious universities like Stanford, Babson, Harvard and MIT, among others.
Each entrepreneur receives $20 million pesos from Corfo InnovaChile and stays in the country for approximately six months. The objective is that during this period the entrepreneurs raise capital, hire people, create networks, and start doing business.
The executive director of Start-Up Chile, Jean Boudeguer, announced that on July 11, nominations will open for the next round of more than 100 entrepreneurs. This opportunity is available to talented individuals from all nationalities residing inside or outside Chile, he said.
In total, Start-Up Chile has involved 112 projects in its short time in existence. Its entrepreneurs have come from each of the seven continents, and included participants from China, Norway, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, and Bulgaria. One success story: Founders of Junar, a platform that allows people to find and use information easily, obtained venture funding for $1.2 million in December 2010.