The first round of applications for the Parallel18 startup acceleration program closes on Jan. 29th at noon (EST). The program has been promoted in New York, Lima and Bogotá to boost participation, nonprofit officials said.
“We’re very satisfied with the interest we’ve received from entrepreneurs in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and of course, Puerto Rico,” said Sebastián Vidal, P18’s executive director.
“The program’s offering, together with the benefits of the island as a business gateway, have proven to be very attractive for fast-growing and high-impact startups that want to scale into new markets,” he said.
P18 is a global accelerator program for innovative high-impact startups that want to scale from Puerto Rico to international markets. It offers $40,000 equity-free funding; mentoring and training with world-class entrepreneurs and experts; and a co-working space for the five months that the program lasts.
Those who decide to continue operating from Puerto Rico are eligible for a follow-up fund from the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, that matches up to $75,000 of capital raised from investors.
The program will select up to 40 companies each cohort, for a total of 80 companies a year. P18 focuses on startups that are innovative, under three years of existence, must have traction or a validated product, and potential to scale to global markets.
“US startups evaluating P18 are interested in the possibility of establishing in a US territory that has geographical and cultural proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean, on top of an attractive and competitive tax structure,” Vidal said.
“While entrepreneurs in Latin America and Europe see the program as a multicultural and bilingual platform to enter the U.S. market, with a lower cost of living than popular innovation hubs in the nation,” said, adding that startup founders and investors have also been interested in tax incentives such as those offered by Puerto Rico’s Acts 20, 22 and 73.
Online platform YouNoodle manages the application process and can be accessed through P18’s website. Once it closes, a group of a 100 international judges will evaluate the submissions and give them a rating that will then be considered by a local board of entrepreneurs, business experts and government officials, P18 explained.
The 40 companies that will constitute the first cohort of P18 will be announced in March, and the program starts in April.
The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, together with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and Puerto Rico’s Industrial Development Company created the P18 initiative.