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Latin America is now a growing power in technology. Dan Swinhoe investigates the Latino Silicon Valleys.
Recently Google announced its first data center in Latin America was to be built in Chile. While the motives were probably just to boost the Internet giant's profile in the region, it highlights the fact that Latino tech is now a force worth taking note of.
Many experts are talking about the rise of the ‘TechnoLatinas'; the investors, entrepreneurs and start-ups are spreading like wildfire across the region. "The tech boom in the U.S. has ignited the imaginations of entrepreneurs in Latin America," Juan Pablo Capello, a Miami-based entrepreneur told ABC. There is no one hub - there are dozens, springing up in Mexico, Argentina, even Colombia, Panama and Chile. Many count Miami as the potential ‘Latin Silicon Valley'.
Miami & Mexico
The US city, known as the ‘Capital of Latin America' is a natural bridge between Latino businesses and the rest of the US, with several tech companies based there, and a number of events hosted in the city in recent years. And, being the in the US, there's less red-tape involved with starting a business.
Moving further south, Mexico is the easiest country in Latin America to do business in -a fact which is no doubt helping spur its outsourcing sector. Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City all boast a range of start-up companies. Each has its own speciality - Guadalajara boasts development in biotech, nanotechnology, mechatronics, ICT and health science; IBM has opened an Innovation Center in the capital along with a number of events; while website builder Sidengo and the food ordering platform Atumesa are both based in Monterry.
Brazil, as the biggest kid on the block, obviously hasn't missed a trick when it comes to technology. Last year a new $2.2bn initiative was created to invest in 75,000 science and technology scholarships by the end of 2014, and there are now a number of tech hubs that are thriving. As the capital, São Paolo is a hive for most sectors, technology included. Rio has been called the ‘Silicon Beach', and is home to Hotel Urbano, Brazil's No. 1 travel site, and Peixe Urbano, a Groupon-style deals site, while Microsoft plan to spend $100 million on a new Rio-based tech center. Recife and Belo Horizonte are also nurturing their own tech industry.
Even further south, Buenos Aires has been known as a Latin tech hotspot for a few years now; back in 2009 it was the "destination for information technology companies big and small and an incubator for start-ups, a place with Wi-Fi on every corner and home-grown networks popping up in between." Today it boasts NXTP Labs, multiple co-working spaces and Palermo Valley.Elsewhere in Argentina, Córdoba has a growing software industry and features a list of companies that includes Nimbuzz, Intel, EA, Dreamworks, Zynga, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and LinkedIn.
This list is just a snapshot. Chile, Panama, Columbia and even Peru all are trying to stick their fingers in the tech pie, and next week we'll be taking a closer look. It's early days yet but it seems Latin America has gone beyond being an emerging market, and is well on its way to becoming a powerhouse.
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