The Peruvian Ministry of Production announces the start of the Reto Bio, a program that will look to make the most of the country’s natural resources and promote innovative projects and businesses through technological and commercial development.
Partnering with the Innovate Peru Program, the Ministry has approximately $3,400,000 available to fund solutions that focus on biotech, agrotech, and foodtech in a program that will last between 12 and 36 months.
“We recognize the extraordinary biodiversity that the country has, and we believe it is a comparative advantage for its socioeconomic and environmental development. In that sense, we seek to promote all the innovations that promote the technological and commercial development of our natural resources,” said Marco Velarde, Vice Minister of Industry and SMBs.
The program is backed by the Ministry of the Environment, (MINAM), German development agency GIZ, and the National Council for Science, Technology, and Innovation (CONYCIT).
The program will be co-financed for eight categories: Innovative Entrepreneurs, Dynamic Entrepreneurship, Business Innovation Projects, Validation and Packaging, RD&I, Technological Internships, Technological Missions and Vertical Incubator.
According to Velarde, the program will prioritize three sectors. Biotech is at the top of the list, followed by agrotech, and then foodtech. In reality these three go hand-in-hand, complementing one another in a shared production chain.
The announcement comes a day after it was reported that innovation investment in Peru could be as low as a tenth of that of other countries in the Pacific Alliance. The Reto Bio (Bio Challenge) represents the start of progress in this area for the country, with plans to to increase innovation funding eight-fold by 2021.
Dependence on natural resources
Peru is rich in natural resources, including copper, gold, timber, and coal, and the timing is right to start making the most of these through the use of technology. The abundant natural resources in Peru and across Latin America have led government to develop a habit of using them as if they were infinite. This could not be farther from the truth.
To turn this around, South America needs to step up as it as a whole. It is lagging behind other nations across the globe in innovation. Reto Bio could help change that with the rise of government-backed projects to make the natural resources of the country more efficient with technology, Peru could go on to emerge as an innovation powerhouse in Latin America, a distinction currently boasted by Brazil.
Applications for the program opened on September 29 and they close on October 31. Those wishing to take part can do so by visiting Reto Bio, Startup Peru, Innovate Peru, and the Ministry of Production portals. Finalists will be selected in November and announced in December.
Last June, the largest gathering of startups and investors in Peru’s technology and innovation sector gathered at the Peru Venture Capital Conference (PVCC) in Lima, which fit into Peru’s broader mission of reallocating resources from raw materials extraction to knowledge-based and innovation sectors.