A trip to the South of the World.
Argentina is a country with about 3 million square kilometers, 50% more than the Mexican territory. It is almost the equivalent of the Mexican territory lost and ceded to the United States. It has 45 million souls and a history of political and economic ups and downs that have hardened some and injured many others, motivating them to become creative, resourceful to take advantage of the talent, beauty and natural wealth of this vast country.
Argentina like many other Latin American countries is a centralist country where it is “believed” that everything happens in the capital Buenos Aires, relegating what happens in the interior provinces. However, on this trip that began in Mendoza, passing through Córdoba and culminating in Río Cuarto, I noticed the agronomic power and abundance of talent that the entire country has.
The CREA organization, which brings together the majority of agricultural entrepreneurs from Argentina, Uruguay and Georgia (yes Georgia in Eastern Europe) with more than 7,000 members, organized in the downtown area the congress called “Innovar Juntos” which reflects the spirit founding of the organization where decisions are made by consensus and not by vote, farmers have a methodology and discipline to share their experiences and best practices among themselves as well as help each other to complement their production processes and consolidate purchases and sales. The event raised the mega challenge that Argentina set out to feed the whole world, end hunger and, incidentally, end hunger in its own country. The idea of generating higher value-added products derived from the countryside was raised, for example putting sensors on wallets so that their value multiplies, making packaged, frozen food products easily distributable by one of its mega e-commerce companies such as Mercado Libre. With the talent that comes from their universities and the thousands of years of experience accumulated in the field, unmanned tractor robots powered by solar energy could be invented for the fertilization and care of their crops, unmanned trucks for the transport of their goods in the absence of of a rail system.
A particular note of the universities in this country is that public schools are the most prestigious in the country and also free. For example, the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba founded more than 400-year-old has 110,000 students. In Río Cuarto , a small town farm of 200,000 inhabitants in the geographic center of the country has the University Nacional de Río Cuarto with nothing more and nothing less than 20,000 students who, added to that of other schools, the probability of running into a university or graduate student on the street is very high The city has a high density of inhabitants with higher education situation that is noticeable in the streets and in the order of the community. This factor can be exploited even more if the level of English and the professional links of the city with other regions and other poles of technological development and talent in the world are raised.
I was able to corroborate the effort of many entrepreneurs from these two cities of the Province of Córdoba, to increase the added value of what they already do and taking advantage of that talent availability.
In Río Cuarto, the Bio4 company founded by 30 agricultural entrepreneurs set out to build a factory that produces ethanol for vehicle use. The 30 million tons of corn that Argentina produces per year exceeds the demand for the grain, a situation that the founders of Bio4 to generate energy from corn both in the form of ethanol and gas. The residues from the ethanol manufacturing process are then used to generate gas and from there to convert it into electricity. The company founded just 7 years ago can generate 250,000 liters of ethanol a day and the electricity generating plant could charge 40 Teslas simultaneously every hour.
After the recent trip to Silicon Valley that all the partners and the management team of the company made, they have decided to form an investment fund aimed at technology companies (startups), including one that would facilitate the adoption and distribution of renewable energies.
Connecting the dots
Córdoba is the Argentine city with the highest concentration of technology companies, automotive manufacturing and home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in South America. For example, in Córdoba there are Mercado Libre, Globant, McAfee, Arcor, Claro, Telecom among many others. Córdoba capital is leading the way in developing its own technological entrepreneurship ecosystem. Undoubtedly thanks to this openness towards the “technological” and to his business mentality. Only in the SV Links programs we have had about 60 participants in addition to the entrepreneurs from that region who have already settled in Silicon Valley as the founder of Webee and GiBike a>.
In the vibrant complex called Ciudad Empresarial, we had several events with about 60 people interested in learning more about the Silicon Valley ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship. Business City has a world-class Convention Center, LEED-certified buildings, coworking spaces and a hotel. But the most important of all this is not the cages but the birds. I was able to see, in addition to the locals, people from the Middle East, Africa, the United States, Europe, Russia participating in the varied and simultaneous events and exhibitions.
But the cherry on the cake has been to know more details of the electric car project that will be unveiled in November, which is designed and built in one of the spaces of Ciudad Empresarial. The car will incorporate technology and materials from the aerospace industry itself that will make the vehicle lighter, safer and with less need for energy to move. In addition, like Teslas cars, it will have digital technology to govern itself from a cell phone and at the time drive itself.
Bingo! What if these two business groups Bio4 and Volt Motors are connected? Argentina could soon have an electric car whose power would come from corn. Although it sounds like science fiction, this is a few weeks away.
I confirmed and reconfirmed that talent is scattered everywhere, in this particular region with more density, but what is missing for it to unleash its full potential? Greater investment and greater connections. Just what SV Links offers its participants. With the joy and excitement that local entrepreneurs after participating in our programs have learned to diversify their investments including technology companies, with greater added value and impact. This is how I heard it from the leader of Ciudad Empresarial when he took me to the airport, “A good part of the motivation to invest in technology companies came from Silicon Valley”.
As if that were not enough, the concept that Innovation with empathy does solve problems versus Innovation only directed by the market, I saw it incorporated into the initiatives of the directors of Bio4 by including a social assistance program called “ Sustainable garden” where they donate land, training , training and materials for families without work so that they learn to grow and sell their products, reinserting them in this way in the economic life of their city.