Resource:How to expand the I&E ecosystem in Puerto Rico
According to our interviewee, Rodolfo Romañach, the I&E ecosystem in PR is a very broad topic. The innovation and entrepreneurship topics are very broad cause they have a lot of organizations, different components, I usually tend to customize towards the area, for example in PR we have a different ecosystem than in Mexico or any other country, because we’re an island, we have different characteristics, different culture, different talents, it’s a whole different industry. Because ecosystems have many components and they are broad, I think the best way I have in order to know what an ecosystem is that I like to think about it as in individuals, as in I am an entrepreneur, what resources I need as an entrepreneur to grow a business, for example, let’s say that we want to create the competitor of a multi-millionaire company here in PR, like Google or Facebook or something equivalent, cause there’s not going to be a next Google or Facebook, there’s going to be something new, unheard off, but let’s say that we want to create that company here in PR, we have to reverse engineer, what resources we need to have to reach its maximum potential, some examples as seed capitals, programmers, that I think there are not enough programmers in this world, organizations that support entrepreneurship, community events, co-working spaces, a lot of different components, and of course universities, and there is when the UIF’s come in. Universities are an essential part of the ecosystem because they produce the talents that the ecosystem needs to thrive. Like I said there are not enough programmers in the world, and that’s why they are in a great demand, like If universities don’t train us good enough to have the skills to contribute to the 21st century economy, then there’s not going to be an ecosystem in PR, because companies wouldn’t have to hire so they can grow. We as UIF’s our main job is to project the I&E mindset so that future graduates don’t graduate and then be only employees for a company, there’s nothing wrong with being an employee, but be an employee with an IE mindset, so that you can become an entrepreneur in your company. Us as UIFs in PR our job is to make students know that there are more options than being an employee, you can be a freelancer, you can be an entrepreneur. We need to help faculties to move this mindset in universities so when students graduate get to a higher expectation than what they had.
What is the present state of the I&E ecosystem in Puerto Rico?
One of the reasons the economy of Puerto Rico is in such a horrible state is because the I&E mindset is not integrated into it. In a more macro perspective, the economy has also changed and the education system has not adapted to the economy that is constantly changing and having turns, thus meaning that were educating and graduating people that are unprepared for the new economy that they will face when they go out to the professional camp in a future. Also, another big challenge the I&E ecosystem is facing is the massification of opportunities on the island. The ecosystem is in a state that is already built, but people need to use it. Additionally, the island must find a way to make it easier for people who are interested in being part of the I&E ecosystem in the island to have access to money. Right now, the process to obtain money for a person's I&E ventures in Puerto Rico is very long, tedious, and hard.
Presently the most active region in the I&E ecosystem in Puerto Rico is the capital city called San Juan. Inside this city, there are many I&E initiatives, projects and companies such as Parallel18, Piloto151, Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and much more. Each one of these plays an important role in the current blooming of the I&E ecosystem in Puerto Rico, but the problem with these is that there are mostly in the San Juan city region and cannot meet the huge demand Puerto Rico has for more projects, companies, and initiatives like these.
How can we expand the I&E ecosystem in Puerto Rico?
- Focusing more on merging the I&E mindset with education.
- By the massification of these opportunities that these I&E related companies, projects, and initiatives give to the people.
- Creating more initiatives, projects, and companies that practice the I&E mindset all around Puerto Rico.
The I&E ecosystem is already established in Puerto Rico, but it needs to grow much more to meet the demand that Puerto Rico has to it. This expansion of the I&E ecosystem in the island will help in many aspects where the country is struggling right now, especially the economy. It is our responsibility to help the I&E ecosystem to expand in Puerto Rico, and that we will do!