Universities will be the main partners in Chilean IT association Acti's effort to help turn entrepreneurs' innovative ideas into prototypes, Acti's entrepreneurship and innovation manager, Marcos Rivas, said during the launch of the 2011 entrepreneurship program EmprendeTic.
"We must ensure, encourage and promote these prototypes to bridge the breach between the entrepreneurs and [potential] investors," he said. Under the program, the idea is to select the best ICT proposals, which Acti will then aid in creating a business plan, coaching and obtaining seed capital. Acti has partnered with Chilean universities and state development agency Corfo to do so.
According to Rivas, Acti's main role is to become a portal for entrepreneurs by generating a flow of projects using incubators at the beginning, and continuing to support those projects through the prototype and company formation phases until they can even become members of Chile IT - the global services platform of Acti.
"At the university level, we need to promote an adequate environment for entrepreneurial students, so they are willing to take the risk - like Bill Gates did at the beginning - and have the capacity of analyzing the industry they want to be in. But most important of all, to have the capacity of dialogue with other areas to assure the diversity needed in creating new projects," said Francisco Rosende, dean of economy and administration at Universidad Católica de Chile.
One such project that has developed from a previous EmprendeTic program is a new software program for the retail market called OptimEyes, which was created locally and sponsored by Corfo's innovation program Innova Chile. The solution employs input from hardware such as cameras, movement sensors and POS and RFID systems to feed in to a BI platform, which in turn helps retailers to plan the distribution and location of products within the store while also planning commercial campaigns.
Acti plans to develop 300 new projects this year, especially in regions outside of capital Santiago.