Dan Swinhoe (South America) - Latin American Tech Hubs Pt II

Last week we looked at tech hubs in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Keeping the focus on Latin America, this week we look at some of the smaller countries in the region vying to become big players in the technology market with hubs of their own.

One of the biggest players is Chile. The government has been keen to embrace technology, including Start-Up Chile, which offers grants of $40,000 to budding entrepreneurs. Good infrastructure, a well-educated & tech savvy workforce, and a business-friendly environment are all in the country's favour, while Santiago came 12th in Startup Genome's list of the top 25 start-up cities, with Sao Paulo the only Latino city ranked higher. Companies with offices based in Santiago include Equifax, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Yahoo, and Indian companies Tata and Polaris Software. Start-ups from Chile include student housing site Uniplaces, which connects students with landlords, and Kwelia, a real estate analysis company.

Panama, and its eponymous capital city, stands as one of the biggest tech players in Central America. Last year the country overtook Uruguay as Latin America's Tech leader in the Latin Business Chronicle's Latin Technology Index, and it plans to stay there. A business-friendly environment means more than 60 companies, including Dell and 3M, have set up shop, and officials are aiming to make Panama City a ‘city of knowledge' in the future.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico's recent vote on whether to become the 51st state of the US presents a unique opportunity. If the move is made- here will be a Latino state that benefits from US legislation and connections that only being a member of the United States can bring. While its start-up community is still in its early stages, it's growing, nd there have been several events that have proved popular with local entrepreneurs.

Medellin & Bogotá are leading Columbia's bid. The former is start-up friendly, and aiming to become a leader in innovation along with government initiatives such as Medellín Digital. Bogotá meanwhile, is fast becoming an outsourcing destination worth more than $250m annually. IBM and Unisys have a presence in the city, attracted by Colombia's high-quality infrastructure and location in the center of Latin America.

Even Peru is getting in on the action, with the government planning to give $20 million to help technology start-ups get off the ground. Who knows, Lima could be one to watch in the future.

This list is far from exhaustive; Brazil boasts a plethora of tech hubs including Manaus, Belo Horizonte and Recife, and there are always more popping up. Of course there are still problems within the region; Mexico is still in the midst of a drug war, while in Brazil it can take 100 days to set up a business just for example. But there are also many positives. This is an exciting time for technology, especially in the Latino world. Watch this space. 

Read Part One Here.

By Dan Swinhoe, Editorial Assistant, IDG Connect


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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