South by Southwest (SXSW) — the mega festival that takes over Austin Texas each March with technology conferences, interactive panels, film screenings, and musical performances — this year highlighted two of Chile’s most promising exports: entrepreneurs and talented artists.
Having just completed it’s “Year of Innovation” Chile ventured to the festival hoping to solidify its status as a business and innovation hub of Latin America. Chilean programs including the country’s small business incubator program Start-Up Chile and ProChile’s initiative CONTACTChile, a program aimed at helping Chilean innovators export their services abroad, led various events and panels promoting entrepreneurship and creative problem solving, prompting bright thinkers to embody the event’s catchphrase: “Innovate! Go South, but Really South.”
“Chile consistently ranks as one of the most important destinations for innovation and entrepreneurship in the world,” said Francisco Correa, Coordinator of ProChile in North America, ahead of the SXSW events. “We have worked hard to actively create an environment that allows for businesses to develop and succeed with minimal barriers. Chile believes that innovation will be a key factor in growing our competitiveness as a nation, from products to people”.
In 2013, Chile made concrete steps to further promote the creation of more small businesses and to support the country’s innovative thinkers. The government invested more than US$1 billion in various programs to generate a positive and supportive work environment in Chile and even made it possible for individuals to create a company online in one day with zero costs. Through the crowdsourcing initiative “Plan C” run by ProChile, the Chilean government became the first in the world to use such methods to promote small business growth.
Chile shared these programs and more at their booth at the SXSW Trade show as well as through panel discussions, pitch sessions, and presentations by Chilean representatives throughout the festival.
Alongside the creative entrepreneurs were some of the country’s other imaginative minds — musicians. At an event called “Sounds of Chile” several artists showcased the range and talent of the Andean nation’s music scene.
Among the acts featured at the show were WatchOut!, a funk band with a psychedelic 60’s inspired sound; singer-songwriter Fernando Milagros; the witty Tus Amigos Nuevos and Nano Stern, who mixes traditional and modern sounds to create something unique and truly special.