Contxto – Latin American enterprise development was recently in full-swing at the 100K LATAM competition in Argentina. Coming out on top with US$55,000 was Le Qara from Peru for its synthetic biomaterial used to make leather.
With support from both the Sloan Latin America Office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA), this event sought to support some of the region’s most promising tech talent.
“In this edition, we had extremely interesting projects both in relation to their themes and their quality,” said Nicolás Bacqué, Director General of Institutional Development at the ITBA. “In today’s world, nothing can be done alone, and this is an example of many people working for a common goal.”
After reviewing over 2,600 entrepreneurs from 18 countries, only 15 finalists were invited to compete in the event’s three categories: Launch, Accelerate, in addition to Pitch. All three winners from these categories came from South America.
“We are building a future and proposing solutions to create value and make the region a better place,” added Bacqué. “We add competition to multiple universities that helped us reach projects from other countries. This is noticeable in the finalists and winners; we reach a regionalization.”
Take a look to find out who they are.
Meaning “leather” in Quechua, Le Qara is a Peruvian startup led by Jacqueline Cruz that took away the big prize. Due to its biodegradable leather, it won the “Launch” category, earning US$55,000 in the process. Specifically, this ecological material is made from plant and fruit-based residues.
“Le Qara has the potential to change the leather industry,” said Cruz. We want people to have access to the benefits that leather has, avoiding pollution, not to mention animal suffering.”
For the “Acceleration” section, this Argentine startup won US$20,000 for its healthtech solutions. Headed by Esteban Piccinini, Omar Azzaroni, Luis Pierpauli and Florencia Piccinini, the startup develops both portable and sensitive diagnostic devices for modern health monitoring.
“This award represents an important step,” said the company. “There are a lot of requirements that we have to meet before we can launch our product such as the patent and the approval of regulatory entities, among others. This will allow us to move forward in order to go to market in a year.”
Last but not least, Photio from Chile won the “Pitch” category, earning US$5,000 based on its tech. Founded by Jaime Rovegno, Constanza Escobar and Matías Moya, Photio has developed a solution to reduce air pollution using nanoparticles.
By mixing special nanoparticles into paint or asphalt, following exposure to UV radiation, then the magic happens. The harmful gases emitted both at an industrial and domestic level are purified through the nanoparticles. This process is a lot like how plants recycle CO2 and produce clean air.
“We are happy. We have been with the project for a short time and this award will be a very important boost for us as a group and company.”