The Pacific Alliance South Summit

Juan José Güemes. President. IE University Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center

28 September 2017

The Pacific Alliance is without doubt one of the most promising economic and trade integration processes currently underway, not only in terms of size and potential of the member countries, but also because it is a major building block of the Pacific basin integration process. 

Within a very short period of time, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have managed to establish the bases of a space for the free movement of goods, capital and people, and transform it into a powerful tool for reducing inequalities and fostering social inclusion through competition, and for increasing the  political and economic reach of its members on a global level, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Hence it should come as no surprise that it has aroused the interest of the entire international community, which sees it as a further sign that the  world economic growth map is changing in terms of both latitude and longitude. The Pacific Alliance forms the eighth largest economy and has the eighth highest level of exports in the world.  It also represents 36% of the GDP of Latin America and the Caribbean, and receives 41% of direct foreign investment in the region.  It has natural resources of incalculable value, and a population of 218 million people, the majority of whom are young.

The  Pacific Alliance comprises four countries which figure among the fastest growing economies in the world in recent years, but which are also facing the challenge of having to consolidate and move forward in their journey toward achieving success against a backdrop of stable prices of raw materials, which means that they will have to focus on innovation and the production of goods and services with high added value.

The Alliance should and can aspire to become a space that serves as a reference for entrepreneurship and innovation. This is partly reflected in its recent commitment to the creation of three joint employment  networks - Acelera AP, Innova AP and Ángeles AP - designed to connect the entrepreneurial eco-systems of all four countries. These networks have benefitted from the experience of IE University, which has worked on the process in collaboration with firms and institutions in the region. Supporting lines of have included some twenty IE Venture Day events and four editions of the Colombia Startup & Investor Summit. Also, three of the finalists of the latest edition of the  CSIS are now set to participate in the Pacific Alliance South Summit.

Startups play a pivotal role in job creation. There is an ever increasing amount of empirical evidence that highlights the fact that recently created businesses create a disproportionately high number of jobs within economies, which means that an economic policy designed to promote growth and prosperity cannot afford to ignore the importance of the entrepreneurial community.

Moreover, new businesses are major contributors to innovation. We are living in extraordinary times, where several markedly mature technologies have converged with the radical transformation of business models across all sectors. We are seeing how borders between industries are disappearing and how value chains are being deconstructed, bringing new proposals that pose a threat to more conventional products and services, and the position of companies that currently offer them. Who could have imagined just five years ago that the commercial banking sector would find itself in competition with mobile phone manufacturers, or that hotel chains would be competing with individual house owners who now use online platforms to access the international house rental market just as (or even more) efficiently than large firms?

An increasing number of firms are embracing  open innovation based on the idea that it is not easy for their company to produce all the best ideas when acting alone. Also, a significant part of innovation in business models takes place in startups, within light, flexible organizations that are not prisoners of the own trajectory, so they are not stuck in a cycle of repeating over and over whatever it was that brought initial success, and don’t see the acquisition of the resources needed for any kind of change  as too much of an imposition. It’s not easy for any of us to adopt a different, or even counterintuitive, approach to two vital things – namely the need to keep getting better at our day-to-day work, and to think about radically different ways of doing it.

The first edition of the South Summit Pacific Alliance will take place on November 30 and December 1, 2017.   It has the overarching aim of providing support to help drive the key objectives of the founders of the Pacific Alliance, and to showcase to the rest of the world all the entrepreneurial and innovative talent that this prosperous and freethinking region has to offer. Another of its main aims is to build a platform where large, innovative firms can meet and an ecosystem for startups created in the Pacific Alliance, as well as provide them all with privileged connections into the European Union. It will also be an excellent environment in which to promote the internationalization and growth of entrepreneurial projects within the Alliance. Large corporations are not just startups’ competitors, they can also be strategic partners, clients, or even investors. For large firms The South Summit affords an exceptional observatory of disruptive trends, and a space for investment and innovation opportunities.

Our vision going forward is to extend the South Summit Pacific Alliance to other large cities encompassed by the Alliance to foster cohesion and integration within the region, while the links forged with the European Union serve to further the global ambitions of this key Alliance founded by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

The South Summit initiative is the result of a joint project launched by IE University and Spain Startup at the end of 2011, the same year the Pacific Alliance came into being. Like the Pacific Alliance, the South Summit has grown rapidly, and is now probably the largest meeting platform for corporations, investors and startups in the European Union. After five editions, the South Summit has become a business development engine. In 2016 it brought together over 12,500 people, including some 650 investors, 6,700 entrepreneurs, 4,300 representatives of innovative corporations, 450 internationally renowned speakers, startup teams - which over the course of the four editions have raised  a total of over 900 million euros of investment – and institutional, academic and individual  observers who simply couldn’t resist the temptation to immerse themselves in the magic of a uniquely dynamic and creative environment. It is our pleasure to invite you to form part of the Pacific Alliance edition right from the start, and we do so with the same energy and excitement that helped create the South Summit six years ago.  

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