NOTE: A variation of this blog first appeared on the website newsismybusiness.com
Last week I participated in the Technology Panel of the Debunking Myths About Puerto Rico Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The conference was organized by the Association of Puerto Rican Students at MIT. The goal of the event was to debunk the myths regarding opportunities available in Puerto Rico by having three panels (Technology, Business, and the Future of Puerto Rico) and a keynote speaker (Giancarlo González – Former CIO of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) discuss what is really happening in Puerto Rico.
Association of Puerto Rican Students at MIT
The students did an excellent job planning and executing the conference. They were not only able to convene some of the best Puerto Rican talent to come and share their thoughts and experiences, but also carry out a flawless event.
The event started with an introduction from the current association’s president, Erica Santana. In her third year of studies, she was able to deliver an eloquent speech. Erica’s speech was inspiring and set the tone for what would be four very interesting talks on the reality of the technology industry and business in Puerto Rico.
Panels and Discussions
The discussions on the panels centered around what opportunities are available for technology and business under the current economic climate in Puerto Rico. The first thing that was establish by all panels is that the current economic crisis in Puerto Rico is in the Government not in the Private Industry. For decades, the Government has spent more money than it is collecting and using debt to fund the difference. This situation has caught up with reality, and now it is time to face truth. The Government can longer spend more than it collects.
Private Industry is a different story. Most technology businesses are growing at a very rapid pace (including Wovenware which grew 60% last year), fueled in great part by their US and Global expansions. Puerto Rico has a great number of business advantages starting with the fact that Puerto Rico is a bicultural, bilingual, US Territory. Therefore, we operate using the same standards, regulations, currency, and intellectual property protections as any other US State, but at a lower workforce cost. And most important, we have the same quality definitions as the US. The world market has started to notice and take advantage for Puerto Rico’s unique advantages.
On the innovation side, we have world-class accelerator programs like Parallel 18 that are bringing startups from around the world to establish and scale their businesses and ideas from Puerto Rico. Thus, helping to foster and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the island. As well as provide investment opportunities to some of the local venture funds like Semillero Ventures and ScienceVest.
The Future of Puerto Rico
All the speakers and panelist concluded that we foresee a very bright future for technology and business in Puerto Rico. Particularly for products and services that can serve the world market. We just need to continue driving the message that Puerto Rico is open for business and creating the opportunities for professionals and innovators to come work from Puerto Rico.