A Mexican spends his days in his tiny room in Tijuana trying to control the flight path of a helicopter by hacking it using an Arduino board that he bought for less than US$20. In Buenos Aires, a teenager discovers he can manufacture prosthetic hands at a very low cost with the help of a 3D printer. In Peru, a woman who has not yet turned 30 dreams of helping unemployed women in her country who have not had access to a formal education to learn to write code and become expert web programmers.
All three are part of what is now known as the creative economy.
They are major players in this new sector of the 21st-century economy which is based on gray matter—people’s ideas and creativity. Although this sector’s circumstances change by the day and are marked by uncertainty, its players respond flexibly and dynamically and the sector is booming despite the extreme economic turbulence that surrounds it. Their discoveries, if they are successful, often go viral and become best-sellers in their countries, or even at the regional level.
As a region, Latin America and the Caribbean needs to keep strengthening its foundations to be able to grow and improve the quality of life of its inhabitants in the years to come. Creativity will play as important a role as natural resources on this mission, perhaps even more so.
Today, people and firms aren’t the only ones who are competing to be creative. Cities and regions are, too.
The more dynamic and creative an ecosystem is, the greater the numbers of talented people that will come in search of it. The most creative places with the best talent will have better chances of innovating and growing.
Passion and creativity, together with our citizens’ commitment to solving the problems we are facing, will sow the seeds for our future.
That Mexican who spent hours shut away in his room in Tijuana is today Jordi Muñoz, co-founder of the largest consumer drone manufacturer in the world. His firm 3D Robotics is valued at tens of millions of dollars, and his drones are of help to other entrepreneurs like Paola Santana, a Dominican who co-founded Metternet, the goal of which is to take medicines to areas that are hard to reach by road.
Gino Tubaro, the 20-year-old who brought hope to children with his prosthetic hands with superhero motifs on them, today has over 60 3D printers that help hundreds of people with limited resources. And the young women in Peru that learned to program are today successful heads of households after attaining formal employment in a field with a bright future, all thanks to Mariana Costa. People are getting to know their ideas and implementing them throughout the region, consolidating the links between Latin Americans.
To foster such developments, INTAL has launched a competition for innovators in creative industries with regional impact in partnership with MIT.
The initiative seeks to showcase projects with the potential to generate wealth and contribute to improving the lives of Latin Americans and Caribbeans through their achievements in relation to intellectual property.
The competition is particularly interested in ventures which have an impact on commerce and regional integration by intensifying trade relations between the various markets in the region.
The creative economy has been one of the strongest sectors of the economy in recent years, and is the one that has experienced the most growth. In 2011, it contributed around US$175 billion to the regional economy, reaching more than US$18 billion in exports and employing at least 10.3 million people.
The key to growth will be our openness to new ideas, which will allow us to channel people’s creative energy.
Big ideas always come from people, they don’t just fall from the sky. It’s people who develop software, write books, compose music, think up a platform, or start a successful business.
These are the principles on which INTALent is basing its search for the best innovators in creative industries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Are you inspired by Jordi, Guido, or Mariana? The competition awaits you.
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