IncuBAte: Equity Free Startup Grants in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Silicon Valley is no longer the only hotspot for startup activity. Many more startup hotspots are popping up across Latin America, and new programs are not only bringing life to local economies but also helping Latin American entrepreneurs tap into international networks.

I was part of Start-Up Chile’s pilot round in 2010, which was the pioneering equity free accelerator in the world. Chile’s government-backed and equity-free accelerator program is well known for producing a vast network and many startup success stories.

By 2015, Start-Up Chile led to over 1,500 new jobs, its successful graduates raised over $100 million, and the program changed the culture around startups in Chile.

Now, under the direction of executive director Rocío Fonseca, Start-Up Chile offers multiple programs, including The S Factory, designed uniquely for female founders. Through its successes, Start-Up Chile has demonstrated Latin America’s incredible potential and sparked a movement across the region.

After Start-Up Chile took off, its former director, Sebastian Vidal, along with the Puerto Rican government, decided to implement a similar program in Puerto Rico, leading to the birth of Parallel 18.

By taking advantage of its unique position as a bridge between Latin America and the US, Parallel 18 is supporting a new generation of entrepreneurs despite a history of economic hardship. Parallel 18 is changing the narrative by accepting both international and local startups and bringing new startup life to Puerto Rico.

Now, it’s time for Argentina to shine.

Famously known for startup successes like MercadoLibre and Globant, Argentina is introducing a new government-backed accelerator program, with many similarities to Start-Up Chile, to back a new wave of entrepreneurship.

The timing couldn’t be better as the Argentine government recently passed a new entrepreneur’s law, designed to stimulate investment activity in the country. The new law allows business owners to establish a business within a 24-hour period – a huge improvement from previous month-long waits.

The new program is called IncuBAte, and it is designed to support startups and help them proliferate. The incubator program is open to national and international entrepreneurs with high-impact ideas and those who are ready to make a difference.

Offering a network of mentors and elite connections, Buenos Aires will receive a restored attention that is long overdue. Startups that are chosen to participate will receive US$30,000, equity-free, along with one year’s worth of benefits, such as mentorship and office space. Local professionals and government officials have nothing but good things to say about the new initiative.

“In order to address social and economic challenges at community levels, Buenos Aires City Government promotes short and long-term initiatives to develop entrepreneurship skills and business training. Our city is fully focused on promoting, expanding and capitalizing its inhabitants’ natural tendency to creativity and innovation.”

-Andy Freire, Minister of Modernization, Technology & Innovation, Buenos Aires City Government

IncuBAte strives to stimulate growth in all sectors and the program welcomes a wide variety of startups specializing in tech, gastronomy, tourism, design, science, and more.  Applications for IncuBAte’s first generation will close in December 2017, and the finalists will begin the first program in April 2018.

Lisa Besserman, the founder of Startup Buenos Aires, agrees that Argentina still has untapped potential and it will be exciting to witness the next generation of companies “Made in Argentina” emerge from the program.

“Incubate will not only enhance the existing level of entrepreneurship within the city, but also build stronger bridges leading to Argentina. I’m confident the program will attract more global startups, investment and activity to the region of Latin America.”

-Lisa Besserman, Founder, Startup Buenos Aires

At Magma Partners, we’re excited to see the next group of Start-Up Chile, Parallel 18, and IncuBAte companies to continue supporting Latin American entrepreneurs. If you’d like to know more about doing business in Argentina, please make sure to check out my deep dive into Argentina!