When you think about the Latin American startup scene, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile may come to mind. You probably haven’t considered Uruguay. With its fairly untapped market of 3.4 million residents, Uruguay is a gold mine for foreign investors. Though the market is on the smaller side, the business incubator scene is thriving, and the economy has been steadily growing by 5-6% over the past decade.
Uruguay has earned the nickname the “Switzerland of the Americas,” and rightfully so with its low crime rate and extremely high literacy rate. The country has even received praise from the UN for its “exemplary” media freedom.
With the influx of startups and the steady economy, Uruguay has recently started attracting big names like Microsoft. For software companies, Uruguay provides the perfect opportunity, giving tax exemptions to those that export their services. Not to mention, its Free Trade agreements allow access to other major tech hubs in South America, including Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina.
It’s an especially attractive market for new companies with the increase in startup activity, accelerators, and coworking organizations. ANII, a state-run organization, for example, has committed to increasing growth by providing scholarships, funding research, and hosting events that encourage entrepreneurship. Alejandro Lozdziejski, the founder of Sur3D, a 3D modeling startup, agrees that ANII has been incremental in Uruguay’s business sector:
“I would definitely say that the greatest milestone in the Uruguayan ecosystem happened ten years ago when the National Research and Innovation Agency was founded (ANII). There were some minor changes, like the appearance of several incubators in recent years, but nothing compared to what ANII generated.”
ANII is just one of the many organizations that have popped up over the last few years on a mission to spark Uruguay’s new business and startup scene. Needless to say, there is a major countrywide push for innovation, which is no surprise given the high value it puts on education.
If you are new to the startup scene, Uruguay provides great opportunities in its developing and thriving business climate. It is perfectly situated between its larger neighbors, Brazil and Argentina, where enterprise owners can take advantage of free trade, open media, and a variety of other programs that encourage business growth.
If you’re thinking about starting up in Uruguay, or just interested in learning more about the startup ecosystem in the country, this Thursday, June 8th, Seedstars will be hosting a pitch event in Montevideo, Uruguay. The event will provide excellent insights into the tech scene along with prime networking opportunities. Seedstars will feature Uruguay’s best seed-stage startups who will be competing to be the next Seedstars World winners. The finalists include: Ábaco, Calinfer, DIMO, Genlives, Krowth, MiFinanzas, NegoAgro, Vexels and ViperMed. The event begins at 1:30pm local time in Montevideo, Uruguay. Find out more here!