Chile named “Silicon Valley of South America”

With its aggressive program to create local innovation centers and foster entrepreneurial spirit, Chile is joining the ranks of tech-hotspots like Malaysia and Singapore.

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Chile could be the “Silicon Valley of South America”, says U.S. technology and innovation magazine INC in a report on entrepreneurship program Start-Up Chile.

The article follows the story of Erika Anderson, a U.S. entrepreneur who decided to leave Silicon Valley in favor of working in Santiago for her new tech enterprise. She was selected by Start-Up Chile, a project launched in January by the Chilean Economic Development Agency, CORFO.

Start-Up Chile offers entrepreneurs US$40,000 in seed money in return for staying six months in Chile. The project is expected to attract at least 1,000 entrepreneurs to Chile in the next four years, as well as generate 2,000 local jobs, improve the country’s image, and develop a stronger entrepreneurial culture.

This is a great program run by really smart people,” said UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business professor Steve Blank, who recently spent two weeks in Chile lecturing about innovation. “They’ve got a lot of kindling going and have the potential to catch fire.”

Nicolas Shea, the founder of Start-Up Chile, says the program will ultimately be beneficial for entrepreneurs and the Chilean economy. “If we can provide someone with an extra six months to focus their business, that could mean the difference between selling an idea for $100,00 and selling it for $1 million,” said Shea, who heads innovation initiatives for the Chilean Ministry of Economy. “What Chile gets out of it is the chance to build our global network.