Despite the pandemic and the limitations it imposes on the world, the most important innovation contest in Latin America made its way into a new edition and awarded the best entrepreneurs in the region in an exciting online event that brought together the 15 finalists in 2021.
It’s all about the competition 100K LATAM, organized by the Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA), with the support of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Sloan Latin America Office, that Its main objective is to promote the development of startups with the capacity to generate impact in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This year the contest received projects from 15 countries in the region (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela), which were divided into three categories according to the degree of maturity of the idea: Pitch, Accelerate and Launch.
The 15 finalist startups from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico, competed to be the winners in three categories to offer innovative solutions in health, environmental impact, energy, circular economy and social media. The Pitch category, which seeks to support ideas or projects in the initial phase of development awarded the winner with $ 5,000. The Accelerate category, designed to accelerate the introduction to the market of projects in the development phase, provided 20 thousand dollars to the winning startup and the main category that is Launch, sought to support the launch of projects with a higher degree of development and allocated a sum of 55 thousand dollars to the winner.
“We are very happy to organize together with MIT this competition from the region and for the region, which this year already celebrates four years of success”, Indicated in the presentation of the contest, Andrés Basilio Agres, rector of the ITBA. For its part, Lee Ullman, Director of the MIT Sloan Latin American office stated: “Every time the contest is more important with more innovators that bring new ideas to the region. There are sponsors, students and universities that want to push innovation in Latin American countries. There is a network of universities that push this contest, which seeks to help entrepreneurs develop their innovative ideas”.
Finally, Gustavo Pierini, one of the juries and former student of MIT in the United States who brought the contest to Argentina, stated: “We never imagined in 2017 that we were going to develop this successful event that lasts over time and is now in its fourth edition. It is the largest entrepreneurship competition in Latin America ”.
Before the winners are known, Adriana Noreña, vice president of Google for Latin America, he summarized in three keys how to change the mentality in the region and make it more productive. “In a post-pandemic world, the entrepreneurship generated by small and large companies is key to economic recovery in each country and in the world. The post-pandemic gap in gender diversity also needs to be improved. We have moved to reduce it in the last 10 years, but it is still big. And the pandemic did not contribute to reduce it. Finally, we believe a lot in the diversity and inclusion of social classes, of races, of religious inclinations. That makes us better to offer the best products to the globalized world ”.
In the Pitch category, the winner was the Argentine project Present Chemistry, which from Rosario proposes a simple process to produce an increase in the added value to the soybean shell, obtaining components of various qualities that can be used both in the paper industry, construction, food, cosmetics and even in the pharmaceutical industry. Esteban Morilla was in charge of presenting the innovative idea.
In the Accelerate category, where ideas begin to be produced and take shape, the winner was the Brazilian project Microciclo Biotecnologia, which represents a sustainable solution to oily industrial waste, from mixtures free of genetic modifications obtained from natural environments, allowing the reuse of decontaminated water in internal processes of the company.
Carolina Fonseca Minnicelli was the presenter of the ecological idea that seeks to provide a solution to the problem of environmental pollution.
In the last category, the most important, Launch, was the winner was Photio, from Chili, It consists of an additive for paints, asphalt, plastics and concrete, which provides decontaminating properties from a technology that uses solar radiation as an energy source to replicate the photosynthesis process.
“It is a solution that consists of a set of nanoparticles that are added to paints or asphalt, which in the presence of UV radiation, either naturally, by exposing them to solar radiation; or artificially, by means of structures designed to optimize uptake with UV lamps, they allow the decontamination of gases emitted by all types of sources at industrial and household level ”, he claimed Constance Escobar by Photio.
The engineer Sebastián Mur, Dean of the ITBA School of Innovation and President of the Evaluation Committee of 100K LATAM, highlighted at the end: “We are very proud of the social and environmental commitment of the 15 finalist projects. We believe that all of them have great potential to generate a real impact in Latin America and the Caribbean ”.
The finalists in each category were:
Launch: In this category, it was sought to support enterprises with a higher degree of development. The first prize will receive US $ 55,000 and the finalists: US $ 5,000 (each). The finalists who were:
-Quelp (Chile), is a foodtech of innovation and biotechnology based on algae. They work directly with collector communities through fair prices, achieving responsible management of the natural grasslands of these organisms.
-Ecomm-App (Argentina), an online platform that helps small and medium-sized merchants in Latin America to increase their sales over the Internet, manage their inventory in real time and invoice all their orders in a massive way in seconds.
-Innova Space (Argentina), a startup from Mar del Plata that proposes to launch the first Constellation of Low Cost Pico Satellites in Latin America to give access to communications around the world for Internet of Things devices.
-WAS Company (Mexico), Its objective is to generate and integrate solutions with high social and environmental impact, with a technological base, focused on the construction industry.
Accelerate: This category seeks to support ideas or ventures in the development or first sales phase. The first prize will receive US $ 20,000 and the finalists: US $ 2,000 (each). The finalists who were:
-Bottleyes (Ecuador) seeks to reduce the environmental impact of the production of plastic bottles by creating affordable glasses with excellent characteristics made from said materials, thus democratizing visual health.
-ArejaBus (Brazil), a project that consists of a hybrid ventilation system that uses the movement of the buses themselves to improve the thermal sensation and air quality for users of urban public transport.
-Wheels Med (Colombia), an initiative that designs and manufactures electric mobility devices for people with disabilities to improve their mobility and quality of life.
-CKAPUR (Argentina), a product that allows to increase the yield of crops in a sustainable way and enables sowing in degraded soils, from microorganisms that promote plant growth in more extreme conditions. In this way, the use of agrochemicals is reduced, thus contributing positively to the environment and promoting sustainable agriculture.
Pitch: The purpose of this category is to support ideas or ventures in the initial phase of development. Give US $ 5,000 to the first prize and US $ 1,000 to each of the finalists:
-Smoothie Bowl (Peru), consists of the development of a biotechnological process applied to plants, which allows fats and carbohydrates to be transformed into high-quality proteins for the production of highly nutritious and accessible foods.
-Neuroflav (Argentina), It consists of a synthetic compound derived from natural products capable of improving different aspects of neurodegenerative diseases of the drugs that are currently available on the market.
-Munay (Bolivia), a venture designed to provide support to entrepreneurs who do not have access to financing. It seeks to connect, through a digital platform, a community of entrepreneurs, kumpitas (donors) and ñañays (female volunteer specialists) –
-Fungipor (Argentina), producer of alternative containers and packaging to polystyrene, made under a biotechnological process with mycelium of fungi and discards from agribusiness, 100% compostable.