Parallel18 (P18) the global startup accelerator that operates since 2015 as part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust launched the call for applications for the second generation of pre18, its pre-acceleration program for innovative Puerto Rican companies.
This time around, Popular and the Center for a New Economy (CNE), through the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund (PRRF) join as sponsors.
Pre18 is an economic development project that helps innovative businesses in Puerto Rico -that are in early stages and have global potential- reach the market. After receiving 307 applications for its successful first generation, which involved companies in industries such as of logistics, agricultural technology, tourism, e-commerce, and fashion, among others, the initiative returns and will select up to 40 startups for its next cohort.
“Pre18 has a very important role in the local entrepreneurship ecosystem, providing an opportunity for innovators, who have business concepts, to take the next step and be able to work full time on their projects,” said Sebastián Vidal, executive director of P18.
“The first generation of pre18 showed that when you place the capital, the support of experts, and the necessary contacts in the hands of these entrepreneurs within a collaborative environment, that creates the right conditions to promote economic development in Puerto Rico,” he said.
The call opened this week and will continue up until April 15, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Those interested can send their application through YouNoodle‘s platform. Once selected, the companies will participate in a program that includes lectures, mentoring and follow-up for 12-weeks. They will also receive a $20,000 grant divided into two payments of $10,000 each.
The business development curriculum will be offered by local and international mentors, so the sessions will be in English or Spanish. Another program advantage is that at, the end of the 12-week period, the 20 companies with the best performance will go straight to the last phase of the selection process to enter the seventh generation (Gen.7) of parallel18.
Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo said, for the organization, following up on pre18 is a vital element to continue strengthening the capabilities of entrepreneurship and innovation on the island.
“We’re very satisfied with pre18’s first generation and we’re excited to be able to continue creating a strong base of Puerto Rican companies with global potential,” Crespo said.
The second generation of the pre-accelerator comes under the slogan “Puestos Pa’l Negocio,” which refers to Puerto Rican entrepreneurs willing and determined to develop the project’s innovative components to export them from the island. The idea is that these Puerto Rican businesses achieve a global reach.
To be eligible, companies must have been established on the past three years (including 2019) and have at least a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and a business model ready to develop.
It should be noted that Puerto Ricans in the diaspora can also participate. The projects don’t have to be incorporated, but if accepted, it will be required that at least one founder is present for the duration of the program and that the company’s business plan includes leaving operations on the island.
Last year, the initiative brought back to the island Puerto Rican entrepreneurs who were in Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, Texas and Maryland. The first group of companies that participated in pre18 had 42.5 percent of female leadership, Pre18 officials said..
The program requires that, during the 12 weeks, one of the founders works full time on the project and comply with the program’s required activities. For this, founders can use part of the grant for salaries.
The impact of pre18 didn’t go unnoticed by other organizations that decided to join efforts to support high-impact entrepreneurship such as Banco Popular and the CNE.
Beatriz Polhamus, first vice-president of Popular’s Social Commitment Division, said the institution’s support to pre18 is aligned with its efforts to boost Puerto Rico’s economic development.
“We didn’t hesitate to join this important initiative that creates and educational and support structure in line with the island’s economic reality,” she said. “We’re sure that this new generation of pre18 entrepreneurs will go out to the world with the tools they need to succeed and contribute to the country as they’ve been doing so far.”