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Versión Español | april 2014


Exchange of Successful and Innovative Experiences Fuels Regional Cooperation

"Innovation and entrepreneurship have the power to transform our economies and societies, opening new frontiers for growth and competitiveness, improving efficiencies and strengthening productive capacity. At the same time, innovation and entrepreneurship can be powerful tools for inclusion, opening up possibilities and opportunities for larger segments of the population" said OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Sherry Tross, marking the beginning of the First Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a week-long tour of high-level representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean to innovation hubs in the Southeast United States held from March 31 to April 4, 2014.

Over 60 government officials, chief executives, and academics from 20 countries in the Americas had the opportunity to learn first-hand from initiatives in the medical, agro- industrial, manufacturing, and automotive industries in the United States; which through public-private partnerships and investments have effectively supported innovation development in urban and rural areas of the country. The busy and enriching schedule included site visits to advanced technology centers, innovation hubs, and research and development centers in the cities of Atlanta, Greenville, Conover, Kannapolis and Charlotte.

“Competition and collaboration aren’t typically mentioned in the same breath. For nations and businesses competing to innovate and prosper in a global marketplace, these concepts seem completely antithetical to one another - that’s why this first Exchange is such a unique and exciting partnership” posted Walter Bastian, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Western Hemisphere in a related blog. “All of the site visits are partners of the U.S. Commerce Department, and because of the Americas Competitiveness Exchange, their linkages to the Western Hemisphere have grown exponentially. This is how we can grow with our partners here in the US, and at the same time help our neighbors and closest trading partners” he added.

Atlanta - Americas Competitiveness Forum Atlanta, the first stop in the tour, was also where the Americas Competitiveness Forum was launched in 2007, which will hold its eighth edition this year in Trinidad and Tobago from October 8-10, 2014.  This is fitting because it is precisely out of the forum that the OAS-coordinated Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC) was developed. The tour is part of RIAC’s 2014 Work Plan to deepen the exchange of the more than 100 successful experiences that countries shared in the Signs of Competitiveness in the Americas Reports 2012 and 2013.

Americas Competitiveness Forum“I consider this is just the beginning as opposed to the end of our engagement” said Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, adding that “we will continue to share best practices and continue to develop relationships where individuals and the countries and the organizations they represent will have further opportunities to engage and, perhaps, develop mutually beneficial projects going forward.”

Examples of concrete actions resulting from the visits include the intention of adapting Georgia Tech’s and the Manufacturing Solutions Center’s incubator and entrepreneurship center models in Belize, Jamaica, and Mexico. Claudine Tracey, General Manager of Strategic Services at the Development Bank of Jamaica described the activity as “tremendously useful” adding that “it has shown how each city, how each town has its own unique approach to building its business people, using innovation, using entrepreneurship to promote sustainable economic growth for each area. So it has been extremely useful in terms of grabbing lessons that we can implement in Jamaica.”  

The event was organized by the OAS-SEDI through the RIAC and the U.S. government through the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and State Department. It was also supported by the Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie as RIAC Chair Pro Tempore 2014, with financial support from the U.S. Government and the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).  

Testimonials: Learn what some of the participants of this First Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship had to say about their experience.



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