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Puerto Rico poised to become global force in AI development

The recent sale of San Juan-based software engineering company Wovenware to Maxar Technologies is positioning Puerto Rico to become a global force in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), to which the former firm has been dedicated to since its inception in 2003.

In an interview with News is my Business, Carlos Meléndez, who along with Christian González co-founded Wovenware, said Puerto Rico’s opportunities in the burgeoning AI market are “very, very big, and we want to deliver the message that the island’s engineers know how to develop world-class software and technology.”

“We’re already a center of excellence and what Maxar wants to do is make sure that the magic that we do here remains the same, in other words, interrupt that as little as possible. They want to grow that asset that they now have, so that we become much bigger, have more projects and have more of a global impact,” said Meléndez.

Last week, Maxar Technologies, a provider of comprehensive space solutions and secure, precise, geospatial intelligence, announced it had closed on its acquisition fo Wovenware. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Now, Wovenware is a wholly owned subsidiary of Maxar, which will retain the approximate 200 employees that the local firm has specializing in software development, service design, artificial intelligence, and geospatial production.

The company will become one of Maxar’s software development and AI/machine learning centers of excellence, with its software delivery experts partnering closely with other Maxar teams to develop new solutions for customers.

As it stands, Wovenware brings about 50 client companies to the table, mostly from outside Puerto Rico, in the areas of financial services, energy, government, health care and defense. Meléndez said that client base has regulatory constraints that require “not just knowing how to design software, but design software that is safe and scalable.”

That is what Wovenware’s employee base does well, he said. At present, the company has about 200 employees, which Meléndez said in three years should be up to 500.

“Our goal is to have those 500 employees working at the center of excellence in Puerto Rico,” he said, adding an expectation of being able to offer work to college graduates who often turn to the US mainland for available jobs with better pay.

“Our goal has always been to bring projects here and enable programmers and everybody who studies technology and who want to work in that field to do interesting work in Puerto Rico, and who stay here,” he said.

Since 2017, Wovenware has worked closely with Maxar on several customer delivery and internal software engineering initiatives, including for Maxar’s global imagery basemaps, Precision3D applications and more.

“In today’s everchanging world, our customers are continuously looking for ways to access our industry-leading products faster and more efficiently — AI and machine learning is critical to accelerating growth,” said Maxar President Dan Jablonsky.

“Wovenware’s incredibly talented team of software engineers complements Maxar’s product development and delivery talent. Our teams already have a track record of working together to deliver customer solutions, and we’re excited to work even more closely together to grow and expand our installed customer base,” he said.

Specifically, Wovenware’s AI/ML and Data Production talent has supported Maxar projects ranging from UI design to full-stack delivery, producing new 3D terrain analytics tools, thousands of ML training data sets, and dozens of automated object detection models.

González and Meléndez will continue to oversee Wovenware’s day-to-day operations.

As part of the agreement, Maxar will continue to invest in Wovenware’s growth in Puerto Rico. Maxar will provide additional resources to help the company draw from the best engineering talent across the island as well as to support its efforts to bring more talent from the mainland and elsewhere back to the island.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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