Chile could become IT hub of Latin America, says Financial Times

“Cultural similarities to the US, time-zone capability and a tech-savvy demographic” are giving the Chilean tech industry an upper hand.

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The Financial Times, one of the world’s most respected broadsheets, suggests that Chile is becoming a regional hub in the information technology industry.

Though the industry only constitutes a small percentage of the nation’s entire economy – just 1.7 percent – in 2010 its income grew 18.5 percent to US$3.5 billion. The Financial Times says it is “positioning itself both to lure technology companies to the region and to export IT services like software design, online banking services and digital marketing, especially to the US.”

Chile has more than 500 IT companies, including Coasin Global Services, Datco, Eticsa, Excelsys, Ki Technology, NovaRed and Synapsis. More than 60 multinationals have opened offices in Chile including McAfee, Certifica and Worleyparsons. University IT courses in Chile also have the highest growth rate compared with courses involving economic sectors.

In a look at government-backed non-proft Chile-IT, the Financial Times interviewed CEO Carlos Fernández, who outlined that investment in the industry is running at about US$4 billion per year and growing at an annual rate of 8 to 10 percent.

Chile-IT, Fernández said, seeks to spur the development of the industry and develop partnerships in the North American market where Chilean companies can provide IT expertise to local companies.

During the interview with the Financial Times, he said “we are being recognised more and more as a leader in the global market. With cultural similarities to the U.S., time-zone capability and a tech-savvy demographic, Chile is becoming a centralized IT hub for South America. The government is firmly committed to making the technology industry a priority and we are excited about the continuing growth of the industry in 2011 and beyond.”

While some Brazilian and Mexican companies are operating in a similar field, Fernández says he believes Chile is carving out a niche for itself amongst other competitive economies in the region.