Connecting Latin America for impact: IASP Regional Division gathers in Porto Alegre

22 March 2024
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IASP Porto Alegre - Group picture

The IASP Latin America conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil, held from 18-20 March 2024, provided a dynamic and comprehensive programme for innovation professionals, representing managers of science and technology park (STP) and areas of innovation (AOI) from across Latin America and beyond.

This event highlighted the vibrant and promising innovation ecosystems within the region, offering insights into local and regional innovation strategies, challenges, and triumphs.

Innovation ecosystems: Trends and forecasts

Hosted by IASP members Tecnopuc, Tecnosinos and Zenit, the conference delved into ‘Alliances for Innovation - Connecting Latin America for Impact’. After the opening remarks by IASP CEO Ebba Lund, Latin American Division President Juan Pablo Suárez, and PUCRS Superintendent of Innovation and IASP Executive Board member Jorge Audy, attendees enjoyed a day rich with discussion and insight on the intricacies and future directions of innovation ecosystems.

The day started with a comparative analysis of innovation districts (ID) and STPs by Josep Pique, Executive President of La Salle Technova Barcelona and Coordinator of the IASP Innovation Districts Alliance. His examination of the ID model, particularly through the experience of the 22@Barcelona Innovation District – and via the use of the IASP Strategigram – set the stage for engaging panel discussions on strategic planning and collaboration in regional development, the crucial role of STPs in nurturing collaborative innovation and the importance of global networks for knowledge exchange.

Driving change: Social innovation and gender equity

The narrative then shifted to social innovation, with examples from across Latin America that highlighted efforts to address societal needs in Ecuador (Juan Pablo Suarez, UTPL Science Park), Colombia (Juan Fernando Pacheco, Uniminuto) and Brazil (Camila Aloi, ICE and Cinthia Kulpa, Zenit Science Park). Deep tech discussions, featuring experts from Brazil (Romildo Toledo, UFRJ Science Park), Panama (Janelle Castrellón, City of Knowledge) and Argentina (Luis Bullrich, Buenos Aires Innovation Park) and a notable keynote on women in deep tech by Nancy Wang, a renowned American cloud technology executive and philanthropist, examined the impact of deep tech companies in science parks and spaces of innovation, illuminated the barriers to gender inclusivity in the field, and underscored the importance of support in education, funding, and mentorship.

The afternoon sessions provided a platform for discussions on public policies supporting innovation, featuring inputs from Cuba (Ihoandra Sotolongo Carballo, Havana Science and Technology Park), Brazil (Mariana Gomes, Sao José dos Campos Technology Park), and Peru (Domingo González, PUCP). This included a session that explored the future of STPs with diverse perspectives on fostering entrepreneurship and technological growth.

The day concluded with inspiring remarks from Luciana Santos, Brazil's first female Minister of Science and Technology, emphasising the significance of gender inclusivity in innovation leadership. 

Porto Alegre’s innovation landscape: A first-hand look

As part of the conference programme, delegates could join an engaging exploration of Porto Alegre's innovation landscape, participating in technical tours of notable innovation hubs, including Tecnosinos, Zenit, Instituto Caldeira and Tecnopuc. These visits showcased the rich history, current achievements, and ambitious plans, particularly regarding expansion and internationalisation efforts, of these sites.

A significant moment of the IASP Porto Alegre conference was the leadership transition within the IASP Latin American presidency, with Adriana Ferreira de Faria officially succeeding Juan Pablo Suarez, who concluded his two-year term as Latin American Division President.

Vision for the future: Innovation leadership and collaborations

The conference wrapped up with a seamless transition to the South Summit Brazil conference, where IASP Latin America members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, and Peru served as panel speakers and moderators, showcasing collaborative efforts in social innovation and the vital role of innovation districts and startups.

Ebba Lund, Juan Pablo Suarez and Carol Stewart also joined the programme in a panel, moderated by Jorge Audy, exploring global tech hotspots and trends, with the resulting discussions highlighting the evolution of our industry towards hybrid, multifunctional spaces, the importance of balancing people, places, and programs in innovation ecosystems and the need for innovation to positively impact our future.

A big thank you to our host city Porto Alegre for this year’s IASP Latin America conference, with a special mention of Flavia Fiorin, Silvio Bitencourt and Cinthia Kulpa and their teams.

Next stop: Buenos Aires
Looking ahead, we’re excited about next year’s IASP Latin America Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, organised by Parque de Innovación. Stay tuned through our events section or reach out at events@iasp.ws.

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