Microsoft and Harvard Recognize Uruguay as an Innovation HUB

The country’s economic, political, and social stability, high educational level, and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem position it as the technological epicenter of Latin America
Publication date: 17/06/2024

Uruguay has attracted the attention of giants such as Microsoft and Harvard Business School. These institutions’ choice of the country as the center of operations in Latin America is no coincidence; it is due to an exceptional environment that combines political stability, a high educational level, and a thriving technology ecosystem.

In the heart of the Technological Park of Uruguay (LATU), Microsoft inaugurated its AI Co-Innovation Lab, the first in Latin America and the third in the world. This lab is a strategic pillar for company and highlights Uruguay’s position as a technology leader.

“This is a monumental step towards a future in which Uruguay will not only be on par with world leaders in artificial intelligence but will also be able to surpass them. We expect this lab to be a beacon of innovation and learning for Uruguay and the world,” said Juan Lavista, Chief Scientist and Lab Director of Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab, during the inauguration of this space a year ago.

The lab, established by Microsoft and the Uruguayan government, received 100 projects from Uruguay (75%) and the region in its first year, with 40 already being accelerated. Notable focuses among the initiatives presented include health, drug production, and e-commerce.

Thanks to the support of the Uruguayan government and in a bid to develop the country as a technology and innovation hub, the Microsoft laboratory allows local and regional technology companies to access cutting-edge technology at no cost to create cutting-edge products and solutions. It also allows companies to obtain expert guidance and recommendations to realize the full potential of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

During the inauguration, Microsoft representatives highlighted Uruguay’s “unique conditions,” such as its exceptional talent, high educational level, and the ratio of software developers per capita, placing the country in an “enviable position in the region.”

According to Jun Yamasaki, global leader of the Microsoft AI Co-Innovation Labs, “The AI Co-Innovation Lab in Uruguay is very strategic for Microsoft. We made this decision because we are very impressed with the infrastructure of investments in technology for education and the good timing of Uruguay to be the technology hub in Latin America”.

The general manager of Microsoft’s South Andean Region, Jaime Galviz, added that “the country has exceptional talent that surpasses all indicators in the region in terms of technology skills; it has a dynamic and innovative business and entrepreneurial ecosystem, in addition to a government with a great vision of the value of digital transformation.”

Harvard expands academic frontiers from Montevideo

It’s not just tech companies that see Uruguay’s potential. Harvard Business School established a business research center in Montevideo, becoming the Latin American headquarters for its program. This center will facilitate academic collaboration with various universities and research institutes, fostering innovation in different business areas.

The opening of the Latin American Research Center (LARC) marks a milestone for Uruguay, which expanded its network of technology and knowledge organizations with a new global player in different areas of research and education.

During the inauguration, Harvard researcher and professor Michael Chu declared that “it is a luxury to be in a country that shares the essential values that guide Harvard Business School (...) it is key to be in a country where people want and prefer to live”.

Chu highlighted Uruguay’s respect and protection of freedom of thought and expression and stressed that it is a country where intellectual capital can be born and grown.

Uruguay’s technological revolution: a model to follow

Uruguay’s attractiveness is not limited to Microsoft and Harvard. The country has managed to consolidate itself as a world-class business center. In recent years, the sector has shown strong dynamism and has grown much faster than the rest of the economy. According to the latest figures from the Uruguayan Chamber of Information Technology (CUTI), the sector’s turnover rose from US$824 million in 2012 to almost US$1.95 billion in 2021, 3% of Uruguay’s GDP.

Uruguay is a leader in connectivity and ICT development, with 91% of households and 100% of public schools connected. It is also a pioneer in implementing a commercial 5G mobile network, positioned as a leader in e-government, and part of Digital Nations, a group of ten countries leading technological development.

Uruguay’s favorable environment for business development includes export-oriented free trade zones, world-class technology centers, and attractive tax benefits for the ICT sector.

With universal and unrestricted access to all levels of education, Uruguayan talent is competitive, skilled, and multilingual. The Uruguayan government’s Ceibal initiative, a global pioneer in providing laptops to all public school children and teachers, has evolved into a leading platform for educational innovation, bridging digital and training gaps.

As a result of all these advances, Uruguay became a preferred destination for international companies seeking quality, efficiency, and new opportunities in a stable and reliable business environment. With a unique combination of talent, infrastructure, and supportive policies, the country offers an accessible and collaborative investment and startup development ecosystem.

Uruguay XXI is currently participating in Collision to promote the country as the #1 Business and Innovation Hub in the region