Creating an ecosystem of innovation in Latin America
Every nation in Latin America and the Caribbeaan is home to start-up activities. Photo: Participants at the Campus Party Mexico, an event that provides incentives and prizes for startups. Credit: Jalisco Campus Party/Flickr

Every nation in Latin America and the Caribbeaan is home to start-up activities. Photo: Participants at the Campus Party Mexico, an event that provides incentives and prizes for startups. Credit: Jalisco Campus Party/Flickr

23rd June 2016

Jerry Haar
The last few years have not been kind to Latin America, economically speaking. And that is an understatement. The region has experienced two consecutive years of negative growth (-0.1% and -0.5%). 2017 will bring a slight improvement only.
Recognizably, the main culprits in the projected contraction are Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela–accounting for 50% of the region’s GDP. As for foreign direct investment (FDI), inflows reached $171.84 billion in 2015, down almost 12 percent from the $195 billion in 2014. This contrasts with a 36% increase in FDI around the world. Add to the mix a continuing depression in commodity prices (slowdown in China), corruption scandals, high interest rates, and urban crime and violence, and the forecast is gloomy overall.
However, among thee storm clouds that will continue to hover over the economies of the region, there are indeed a number of pockets of sunshine—the brightest being the rapid proliferation of start-ups, both tech- and non-tech based, and the pace of innovation throughout the Hemisphere. Last year, start-ups in Latin American ballooned to 1,333 and accelerators to 62, with investment approaching $32 million. Chile leads the way, with 3 times the investment of Brazil. In terms of numbers of start-ups, Chile had 442, Mexico, and Brazil 297.
While start-ups pop up serendipitously, it takes the formation of an “ecosystem” to fuel the growth, interaction, and dynamism necessary to …

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