Uruguay's National Research and Innovation Agency is encouraging U.S. companies to apply for government grants worth up to $400,000 by partnering with Uruguay organizations on innovative projects, said Fernando Amestoy, the agency’s CEO.
A U.S.-Uruguay education memorandum signed Nov. 15 in Atlanta pledges to increase cooperation between the two governments on the types of research and development the Uruguay agency is promoting.
“Our program does not discriminate. We invite Georgia companies or other foreign companies to apply,” Dr. Amestoy told GlobalAtlanta in an interview during the Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta, Nov. 15.
The memorandum, which also furthers business ethics exchanges and the One Laptop Per Child program, was signed at the forum by U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez and Uruguayan Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining Roberto Kreimerman.
Proposals for grant projects can range from biotechnology to logistics to audio-visual ventures, said Miguel Helou, a representative of the innovation agency who was part of the Uruguayan delegation to the forum.
He added that the agency also offers grants that support university exchange programs, as well as the commercialization of research. He expressed an interest in working with the Georgia Institute of Technology and other Georgia universities to solicit proposals.
Dr. Amestoy and Mr. Helou, along with the vice president of Uruguay’s Information Technology Association, Leonardo Loureiro, met with Georgia Tech’s Center for International Business Education and Research and the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute to explore areas of possible collaboration.
Mr. Loureiro told GlobalAtlanta that since Uruguay and Georgia both have strong logistics industries, Uruguayan software developers are looking to provide logistics software to partners here.
“We are looking for vertical niches,” he said, adding that Uruguayan engineers could use help in developing business management capabilities and that a partnership with Tech on this topic might be eligible for a grant from the innovation agency.
U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay David Nelson told GlobalAtlanta that the memorandum of intent would serve to build relationships between Uruguayan and U.S. universities, possibly including some in Georgia and the Southeast.
“The benefits are mutual and have a variety of potential impacts. Education is one of the United States’ biggest exports, and educational exchange can have implications for business development, investment and trade,” Mr. Nelson said.
Mr. Kreimerman, the Uruguayan minister of industry, told GlobalAtlanta that business management is one area in which Uruguayan universities hope to learn best practices from U.S. universities. Biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronics, information technology and agro-industry are also fields in which he hopes to see more collaboration with the U.S.
Mr. Nelson concurred. “Everyone would be happy if this forum leads to specific business transactions and academic opportunities. It would be great for Uruguayan students to be able to come to Georgia Tech, for example, or for U.S. students to go to Uruguay,” he told GlobalAtlanta.
Uruguayan Ambassador Carlos Gianelli noted during the Atlanta forum that the new memorandum of intent on education will complement a science and technology agreement signed last year by the U.S. and Uruguay. The agreement has now been ratified and is furthering bilateral cooperation in earth sciences, health and biotechnology, he said.
The Uruguayan delegation was a strong participant in the fourth annual Americas Competitiveness Forum, with Mr. Kreimerman speaking on a renewable energy panel, Mr. Nelson moderating a Southern Cone market opportunities session and Dr. Amestoy participating on a panel on promoting regional innovation.