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Contxto – Uruguay’s National Research and Innovation Agency (ANII) plans to debut a new program to attract more innovative entrepreneurs to the country.
The campaign consists of a three-stage acceleration program, but it offers an interesting perk. Since selected founders will be required to travel and live in Uruguay for the duration of the program, the agency is offering a promotion for carry-on luggage at just US$1. Yeah, you read that right.
As peculiar as it sounds, it’s certainly attention-grabbing. You can’t deny that luggage costs can often be a pain in the butt.
Proyecta Uruguay, as the program is named, seeks high-growth, dynamic companies interested in scaling from Uruguay to the world. Its goals are to identify, attract, accelerate and fund innovative companies capable of expanding internationally, especially around neighboring countries.
There are some specific stipulations, though. For example, at least one of the founders must be present in Uruguay during the program. Applicants must also submit their requests before September 23 through this online form.
Further requirements state that participating startups need to be promoting an “innovative” product or service in a competitive market. Companies should already have gained some traction, meaning they’re already commercializing products with a capable founding team.
In my opinion, the requirements sound somewhat subjective, but who knows, perhaps there’s a truly quantifiable system behind it.
The contest is industry agnostic, meaning it’s not reserved for a single industry. However, it does have some preferences including renewable energy, autonomous vehicles, e-commerce, agrotech, fintech, biotech, foodtech, logistics, media and some technologies such as AI and blockchain.
There are three stages to Proyecta Uruguay.
Every day for two weeks, the startups will participate in intensive workshop sessions to polish business model details and pitching skills.
Startups will receive a US$25,000 investment (unsure if equity-free or not, stay tuned for more on this), and will receive personalized coaching sessions from Endeavor mentors.
This stage allows startups to apply for up to US$400,000 if they choose to install their headquarters in Uruguay.
In hopes of improving Uruguay’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, ANII partnered with Endeavor to also provide world-class mentoring.
This investment will depend on the performance of the previous stages. Founders will be able to negotiate with investors, who have to invest at least US$40,000. The startups that receive investment from these private investors will be eligible for the US$400,000 bonus from the ANII funds.
From my perspective, Uruguay is full of talented entrepreneurs and tech-savvy people. Startups like MonkeyLearn, Kezmo, PedidosYa and Tryolabs are some fine examples.
Really, I’m certain the ecosystem is not lacking creative, innovative and courageous business people. By contrast, Uruguay doesn’t get as much attention as larger markets. This initiative is definitely one step forward to a maturing ecosystem.