The eyes of the technology world are on Barcelona, Spain this week for the celebration of the Mobile World Congress, and Puerto Rico has an important role in presenting the Parallel18 startup acceleration program before hundreds of “4YFN” (“4 Years from Now”) event attendees.
“4YFN” is held parallel to the MWC and brings together thousands of entrepreneurs, mentors, accelerators, companies and investors who invade Barcelona each year to discuss issues of technology, innovation and startups.
Sebastian Vidal, executive director of the newly launched Parallel18 accelerator, said Monday that the captive audience makes it all the more “significant that we were invited to speak on the opportunities offered by the program and Puerto Rico to internationalize startups.”
“While the goal of Parallel18 is attracting entrepreneurs, we also want to attract investors and mentors who can add value to the ecosystem, and events like this (4YFN) are part of the strategy,” he said.
The conference focused Parallel18’s offer for young and innovative companies with a global focus, including seed capital grants for $40,000, a 20-week acceleration program of acceleration offered in Puerto Rico, and workspace during this period. Entrepreneurs and professionals of high international profile come to the island to run the curriculum that includes talks and meetings with participants to give them access to a significant network of contacts to push their companies to the next stage of development.
“Parallel18 and Puerto Rico represent an ideal platform for startups who want to scale their business to global markets, particularly the United States [mainland] and Latin America. The island’s geographical, cultural and political position offers unique conditions for mobile technology companies,” said Vidal during his participation on the first day of 4YFN.
Upon completing the 20 weeks, the startups that decide to maintain operations on the island are eligible for follow-up funding that matches up to $75,000 of the investment they receive from private funds. They can also benefit from many local incentives, including Acts 20 and 22, and Act 73 for economic development incentives.
“Puerto Rico has an amazing human capital, both on the island and distributed around the world, combined with a diverse culture and U.S.-based legal and corporate structures to position itself as a center of innovation with global potential,” Vidal told 4YFN attendees at the WMC.
He also noted that Puerto Rico has direct air links with many of the major cities in the United States mainland and Latin America, which can be reached in four hours or less, and recently have also opened nonstop service to various parts of Europe.
Parallel18 is an economic development initiative that seeks to attract companies and create high-impact startup type that can scale from Puerto Rico to global communities beyond the island, including the United States mainland, Latin America and Europe.
The mission of the program, operated jointly with the Science, Technology and Research Trust, it is to expand the horizons of Puerto Rican entrepreneurs in the short term and generate economic activity in the long term.