The international accelerator based in Puerto Rico, Parallel18, closed this week its second round with 507 applications from 44 countries. This number represents an increase of 22 percent, compared to the 415 from 30 countries in the opening cohort.
“Once again, the response to the call for applications exceeded our expectations,” said Sebastian Vidal, executive director of Parallel18. “This shows that Puerto Rico has a value proposition that is attractive to startups that see the island as a unique platform to scale their businesses to the United States and Latin America.”
P18 supports up to 40 startups in each of the two cohorts Vidal leads every year. There is an international call for applications that target high-potential, fast-growing innovative companies founded in the past three years, and with a vision to reach global markets.
Each of the selected startups receive a $40,000 grant and co-working space in P18’s headquarters at Santurce, while they participate of a five-month acceleration curriculum with top-notch mentors.
P18’s short-term goal is to position Puerto Rico as a world-known innovation hub, and help foster an entrepreneurial mindset in the island. In the long run, the accelerator projects an economic impact with the creation of more local high-impact companies creating local jobs to service global clients.
The opening call for P18 launched in December 2015, and received 415 applications that later on turned into a first generation of 36 startups, which started the program this past April. The second cohort is expected to start Aug. 31.
“The quality of the current startups and founders in the program is very good, and we can see it in the progress they’ve made since starting the program two months ago,” Vidal said about the companies.
Of the 36 startups, 12 are from Puerto Rico, 13 come from different parts of U.S mainland and 11 moved to the island from seven European and Latin American countries.
These companies are operating from Puerto Rico, have already started hiring local employees, and during the summer are offering internships to college students on the island.
Vidal is confident that the second cohort will also have a significant participation of startups founded by Puerto Ricans on the island or living abroad. The statistics for this recent applications show that most of them came from Puerto Rico, followed closely by founders in the U.S. mainland, Chile, Argentina and Spain.
Vidal, the former executive director of Start-Up Chile, runs the program funded by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company. The initiative is part of the efforts to diversify and propel a knowledge-based economy in the island.