Redacción: Ramiro Conte Grand
This year’s award ceremony for the Top Ten Innovators Under 35 competition in Argentina and Uruguay took place on Friday, September 23, 2016, at the Tecnópolis precinct in Buenos Aires. The winners were selected by the MIT Technology Review en español for their inspiring projects with the potential for social impact. The event was organized in partnership with various institutions, including INTAL, Argentina’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation, and the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI).
The competition has been run for over a decade throughout the world and which numbers Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sergey Brin of Google among its winners. This year, the prize went to Alejandro Esperanza, the creator Gurucargo, an online platform that enables importers and exporters to obtain quotes for shipping sea, land, and air freight quickly and easily. This reduces costs, democratizes access to international logistics, and benefits SMEs by cutting out middlemen.
The event also included presentations from the winners of INTALENT, the competition that INTAL ran in the first half of 2016 in partnership with the MIT Technology Review en español and Argentina’s Ministry of Culture.
INTALENT is a competition around innovation in the creative industries with an impact on integration and trade. It recognizes technologically based innovative talent within the Orange Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. The competition seeks out initiatives whose intellectual property-based achievements have the potential to generate wealth and contribute to improving the lives of those living in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Over 680 projects from 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean took part in the competition. These were evaluated by juries with different areas of expertise from throughout the region. The judges assessed innovation, the candidate’s experience as an entrepreneur within his or her creative industry, the development and impact that the project is having on the region, its potential to stand out within the creative industry, and its contribution to increasing trade and regional integration, among other factors.
As he was introducing the winners, INTAL director Gustavo Beliz said, “The creative sector drives income generation, creates jobs, and boosts exports while also fostering social inclusion, cultural diversity, and human development.” He went on to talk about the impact of the creative sector: “It is the sector that has grown the most in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years, creating 10 million jobs and exports worth US$18 billion.”
The first prize for the INTALENT competition, US$10,000 and a trip to Emtech, the emerging technology event organized by the MIT Technology Review in Boston, went to Stereotheque, a platform for exploring music on the basis of your location, preferences, and a touch of serendipity, and which functions on the basis of artificial intelligence.
The second prize, a trip to Demand Solutions, the IDB’s start-up event in Washington, went to Linguoo, an audio app for news articles. The app’s community functions like an intelligent, customized, and inclusive radio station where volunteers read articles from different newspapers, magazines, and blogs in different languages.
Discussions on the Future: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Smart Materials, and Nanotechnology
The conference included roundtable discussions where experts presented the latest advances in breakthrough technologies in different areas. Robert Nicol, director of the technology labs at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, presented the human genome project that will enable “DNA sequences to be read and reprogrammed” in the near future.
Galo Soler Illia, dean of the Nanosystems Institute at the National University of San Martín, showed how nanomaterials are being used in everyday objects such as tennis rackets, cars, and television sets. Joanna Berzowska, head of electronic textiles at OMsignal, made waves with her descriptions of clothing that generates energy from the wearer’s movements.
Stella Loiacono, CTO of IBM Argentina, outlined the cognitive computation projects that the company is working on. Developments in artificial intelligence mean that robots can interact with users, come up with reasoned answers to certain questions, and improve their response times. According to Loiacano, these advances “are not seeking to replace humans as decision makers but to help them go about their day-to-day activities.”
Finally, Diego Fernández Slezak, professor of computing at the University of Buenos Aires’s School of Exact and Natural Sciences, spoke of how his department is working on a tool that gathers information on how people use the internet and that can predict certain psychiatric illnesses such as Parkinson’s, bipolar disorder, or formal thought disorder on the basis of the words they use to communicate.
The Winning Projects of the 2016 Ten Innovators Under 35 Competition in Argentina and Uruguay