Get ready for a fascinating panel. Photo by WebPhotographeer/Getty

The technology and innovation portion of Chile Connected begins next week, and if you haven't already reserved your free spot for the virtual event, you'd be wise to go do it now.

From October 27-29, you can hear from high-level experts and keynote speakers from both Chile and the U.S, as well as network and make new connections that will hopefully lead to a successful partnership.

Josh Sol, the administrative director of Houston Methodist Innovation and Ambulatory Clinical Systems, will be moderating the panel on October 29. The topic is "The Present Future of HealthTech," and will address what COVID-19 means for the future of healthcare technology.

Panelists include Daniela Mendoza, commercial manager for GenoSUR; Alberto Rodríguez-Navarro, founder of Levita Magnetics; and John Dvor, managing director of Miraki Innovation.

InnovationMap recently spoke with Sol about the upcoming event.

InnovationMap: What can U.S. companies gain from participating in this session?

Josh Sol: U.S. companies have the opportunity to gain additional perspectives from other like-minded individuals who are passionate about technology. I've been impressed from the groups and ProChile representatives I have spoken with to date, and I look forward to hearing more about innovation efforts coming from a leading Latin American technology epicenter.

IM: How important are international partnerships in the health tech sector?

JS: Innovation in healthcare technology is coming from all over the globe. Cultural experiences tend to drive creation and innovation. When we collaborate with partners outside of the U.S., we have the opportunity to broaden opportunities and learn from other cultures, and, in turn, we have the potential to apply those insights to what our standard processes are within the U.S. healthcare system.

IM: Personally, why did you feel it important to be involved with Chile Connected?

JS: I have been so impressed by the passion coming from Chile Connected. Discovering new companies doing amazing things in the healthcare technology space continues to fuel my passion for what I do on a day-to-day basis.

IM: What are the key ways businesses can adapt in the pandemic environment?

JS: Businesses should be as nimble as they can — that's a pretty universal lesson most have experienced and we've certainly had first-hand experience in this area as well. At Houston Methodist, our focus is always keeping the patient at the center of everything we do, and we appreciate the collaborative business partners who help us maintain our commitment to our patients, the community, and our clinicians during the pandemic.

Some partners have even pivoted their technology offerings to align with the challenges spurred by COVID. Some areas where we have had to adapt during COVID include ramping up our telemedicine efforts, quickly turning on our virtual ICU, and diversifying the way we communicate with our patients through digital technology.

IM: What do you think is important for start-ups to focus on when trying to grow in this field?

JS: Healthcare technology organizations have many opportunities available to them and must be open to change and the innovations coming from younger start-up companies. As a start-up, it's important to know the problem you are attempting to solve, and to also understand the bigger picture of either the process, patient experience, or clinician experience you are impacting.

Too often, a company will say, "What do you want it to do? It can do anything…" Always come with a solution mindset. Drill down into your offering and what value you have to the organization you're pitching to.

Reserve your free spot for Chile Connected now.

Form international partnerships without ever leaving home. Photo by Luis Alvarez/Getty

5 reasons to get connected with Chile via this virtual event

Listen to the List

It's almost time for the tech and innovation portion of Chile Connected, a nearly month-long virtual event designed to serve as a "matchmaker" for technology firms as well as creative industries, healthy food providers, and women-led businesses.

Sponsored by ProChile, the online convention is an easy — and free — way to meet your next possible collaborator, all from the comfort of home.

To make sure you don't miss your shot at building the next big partnership, here's everything you need to know.

1. The when and where
Chile Connected runs online October 19-November 20, with the tech and innovation panels taking place October 27-29. It's free to attend and you can register here.

2. What to expect
In addition to B2B matchmaking sessions, you can hear Chilean entrepreneurs about about their global innovations in the areas of HealthTech, FinTech, EdTech, and RetailTech. Experts will explore the future of e-commerce, how to empower women in tech, and how healthcare technology is changing in the face of COVID-19.

3. Who'll be there

  • HealthTech: Alberto Rodriguez, president of Levita Magnetic, a company that develops technology through magnets to reduce the need for incisions, invasive surgeries, and scars.
  • RetailTech: Ariel Schilkrut, cofounder of Zippedi Inc. Zippedi is a robot that uses AI to provide services to the retail industry. It includes image recognition and deep learning to create inventories, which improves the efficiency of replenishment processes and the level of service that these companies provide to their customers.
  • EdTech: Komal Dadlani, CEO and cofounder of Lab4U, a company that transforms mobile devices into scientific instruments to democratize access to science, giving the possibility of having a laboratory in your pockets.
  • EdTech: Marisol Alarcón from social de Laboratoria, a company that trains women without higher education as web developers. This undertaking was highlighted by Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama for its contribution to gender equality.
  • Fintech: Cristóbal Forno, founding partner of Global 66, a platform for international money transfers.

But that's just the start — besides the big names from even bigger companies, there will be dozens of people from all over the world looking to network and form partnerships.

4. Why you should consider Chile
Chile is recognized as the most advanced IT market in Latin America, with the IT sector there representing 3.4 percent of its national GDP. Chile is also the 29th largest trading partner of the United States, while America is the No. 1 destination for non-copper goods and service exports from Chile.

5. How Chile benefits you
Most Chilean companies — 53 percent, in fact — are looking for a joint venture or capital to grow into other markets. Chile has been regularly investing not only money but also resources and programs to support new startups and companies. Start-up Chile is one such accelerator; it has vowed to invest $80,000 in an American start-up that will create and develop its idea in Chile.

Reserve your free spot for Chile Connected now.

Your next game-changing parter might be in Chile. Photo by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty

Why your tech company should partner with forward-thinking Chile

Find Your Match

What's one of the most important ways a tech company can ensure success? Collaboration. Finding that perfect fit with a like-minded partner just might change the world — but first you have to find each other.

For many U.S.-based companies, their next great collab could be Chile. The South American country has recently been attracting the attention of big-name players such as Jeff Bezos, all based off its growing IT presence and expansion in the HealthTech, FinTech, EdTech, and RetailTech sectors.

But you don't have to actually travel to Chile to meet possible partners.

Chile Connected, sponsored by ProChile, is a nearly month-long virtual event designed to serve as a "matchmaker" for technology firms as well as creative industries, healthy food providers, and women-led businesses. And it's completely free to attend.

On October 27-29, the tech and innovation panel will welcome high-level experts and keynote speakers from both Chile and the U.S.

You'll hear from top-level execs at rapidly growing companies like biotech start-up GenoSUR and magnetics surgery pioneer Levita, both Chilean-based with American partnerships. Levita founder Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro will share the stage with GenoSUR's commercial manager Daniela Mendoza, along with a representative from CIC Health, which is innovating in COVID-19 rapid testing.

You also get to network and make new connections, hopefully leading to a successful partnership.

Most Chilean companies — 53 percent, in fact — are looking for a joint venture or capital to grow into other markets. U.S. companies then get the opportunity to select those which best suit their needs or have the most potential, as well as purchase up-and-coming software and other tech products at a very competitive price.

Chile has been regularly investing not only money but also resources and programs to support new startups and companies. Start-up Chile is one such accelerator that has vowed to invest $80,000 in an American start-up that will create and develop its idea in Chile.

So the money, know-how, and support are just waiting in Chile for the American businesses to come find it, and Chile Connected is where you can get started. Reserve your free spot for the event here.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

2 Houston startups win national technology award from SBA

winner, winner

A couple of Houston startups have something to celebrate. The United States Small Business Administration announced the winners of its Tibbetts Award, which honors small businesses that are at the forefront of technology, and two Houston startups have made the list.

Re:3D, a sustainable 3D printer company, and Raptamer Discovery Group, a biotech company that's focused on therapeutic solutions, were Houston's two representatives in the Tibbetts Award, named after Roland Tibbetts, the founder of the SBIR Program.

"I am incredibly proud that Houston's technology ecosystem cultivates innovative businesses such as re:3D and Raptamer. It is with great honor and privilege that we recognize their accomplishments, and continue to support their efforts," says Tim Jeffcoat, district director of the SBA Houston District Office, in a press release.

Re:3D, which was founded in 2013 by NASA contractors Samantha Snabes and Matthew Fiedler to tackle to challenge of larger scale 3D printing, is no stranger to awards. The company's printer, the GigaBot 3D, recently was recognized as the Company of the Year for 2020 by the Consumer Technology Association. Re:3D also recently completed The Ion Smart and Resilient Cities Accelerator this year, which has really set the 20-person team with offices in Clear Lake and Puerto Rico up for new opportunities in sustainability.

"We're keen to start to explore strategic pilots and partnerships with groups thinking about close-loop economies and sustainable manufacturing," Snabes recently told InnovationMap on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

Raptamer's unique technology is making moves in the biotech industry. The company has created a process that makes high-quality DNA Molecules, called Raptamers™, that can target small molecules, proteins, and whole cells to be used as therapeutic, diagnostic, or research agents. Raptamer is in the portfolio of Houston-based Fannin Innovation Studio, which also won a Tibbetts Award that Fannin Innovation Studio in 2016.

"We are excited by the research and clinical utility of the Raptamer technology, and its broad application across therapeutics and diagnostics including biomarker discovery in several diseases, for which we currently have an SBIR grant," says Dr. Atul Varadhachary, managing partner at Fannin Innovation Studio.

This year, 38 companies were honored online with Tibbetts Awards. Since its inception in 1982, the awards have recognized over 170,000 honorees, according to the release, with over $50 billion in funding to small businesses through the 11 participating federal agencies.

Report: 2020 brought fewer, larger VC deals for Houston — but angel investment is on the rise

venture capital update

Houston startup's venture capital deals continue to grow in 2020, according to a new report from Houston Exponential. Last year, VC dollars were up, while deal count was down, representing more mature deals coming into the ecosystem — but the second half of the year was defined by a growth in angel investment interest.

The report by Serafina Lalany, chief of staff for HX, found that the Bayou City brought saw $715 million across 117 VC deals, according to Pitch Book data. It's the fourth year Houston has seen VC growth, and last year the city reported over $563 million across 168 deals.

"Houston has put concerted efforts into building its innovation ecosystem," says Harvin Moore, president of HX, in a release, "and 2020's record-breaking results show we are seeing not only resilience in the tech sector, but a significant increase in the rate of formation and success of growth-stage companies, which have an outsized effect on our local economy in terms of high paying job potential and Houston's increasing attractiveness as a great place to work."

Last August, HX published a report on the first half of the year and that study found that Houston — facing the challenges of both the pandemic and the oil price drop — managed to see a 7 percent increase in funding compared to the national average of 2.5 percent. With the second half of the year, the city's VC increase from last year was over 25 percent and up 252 percent since 2014.

The other difference between the first and second halves of the year for Houston VC was the stages of the deals made. Most of Houston's larger deals took place in the first and second quarters — and even the beginning of Q3 — of 2020:

But the second half of the year seemed like Houston's earlier stage VC activity returned, and Blair Garrou, managing partner at Houston-based Mercury Fund, confirmed this to InnovationMap on the Houston Innovator's Podcast in December.

"Seed rounds have definitely bounced back. We're seeing a lot of seed activity, because there's been a lot of seed funds raised," Garrou said on the podcast, adding that he's observed an increase in angel investment interest. "People are realizing that money is in innovation and tech — especially in software."

In her report, Lalany found that in Houston, angel investments are out-pacing seed, creating a "competitive environment."

"The addition of multi-stage and nontraditional investment firms into the arena has created upward pressure in deal valuations and sizes. The average seed round in 2015 was $1 million, whereas today it's double that," the report reads. "With these firms turning inward to focus on protecting their current investments at the start of the pandemic, the propensity for smaller, more riskier investments have declined."

Stephanie Campbell, managing director of the Houston Angel Network, said she's seen a rise in new membership for the organization. Last August, she was on track to get to 150 members — up from just 60 in 2018.

"Despite COVID, we've continued to grow," Campbell told InnovationMap, adding that she's heard investors express that they have more time now to dive in. "People are very much still interested in learning about deploying their capital into early-stage venture. They're looking for a network of like-minded individuals."

In contrast to this early stage activity, the VC activity that was still occurring was defined by larger deals. With VC essentially halting in March and April — especially in cities like Houston, Garrou adds — it makes sense that investors wanted more "sure things" and would invest more funds into companies they already know, versus being able to source new deals in person.

"When you go to later stages, there are a lot fewer deals going on," Garrou continues on the podcast. "Now, there may be larger investments being made, but I think they are into fewer companies, and I think that's just due to the the pandemic and the ability just to not be able to do face-to-face."

As Houston moves through 2021, the city is poised well for more growth and a continued diversification from just oil and gas, as Moore says in the release.

"Houston Exponential was created four years ago by civic and business leaders to deal with an existential problem: our dependence on the energy and medical sector without a thriving startup culture to lead us towards a future that will look very different from the past," he says. "COVID and the de-carbonization movement have made that need much more urgent — it's both a huge challenge and an enormous opportunity."