SOURCE: Parallel18

December 09, 2015 09:00 ET

Can Technology Entrepreneurs Help to Turn Puerto Rico's Economy Around?

The Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust Launches Parallel18 and Looks to Startups as a Contributing Solution to the Current Economic Crisis

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO--(Marketwired - December 09, 2015) - The Puerto Rico Science Technology & Research Trust, an organization focused on implementing public policy and infrastructure favorable to the development of a knowledge-based economy, is turning to the startup ecosystem as a contributing solution to Puerto Rico's current economic crisis with the launch of Parallel18. Parallel18 is an economic development initiative that aims to attract and create high-impact startups that can scale from Puerto Rico to global communities beyond the island, including Mainland U.S., Latin America and Europe. The program's mission is to expand the horizons of Puerto Rican entrepreneurs in the short term and create economic development in the long run. The application period opens on December 9, 2015, closes on January 29, 2016 and is powered by startup competition platform, YouNoodle. Interested entrepreneurs from Puerto Rico and around the globe are encouraged to visit http://www.parallel18.com to apply.

"Technology has helped to redefine communities and create value well beyond economic prosperity," said Sebastian Vidal, executive director of Parallel18. "Parallel18 harnesses the uniqueness of Puerto Rico, including: a multicultural society and a connected diaspora throughout the world; convenient geographic location; lower cost of living and resources; and competitive taxation under U.S. laws. All of these elements, combined with additional business incentives, attract well-connected and experienced business people to live on and work from our beautiful island."

During an intense five-month program, up to 40 tech-based startups will participate in a training and acceleration program taught by global technology and business experts. Each company will receive equity-free seed money ($40,000 delivered in two sets of $20,000) with an opportunity for equity based follow-on funds if they choose to keep their business in Puerto Rico. In exchange, they will engage with local universities to teach and mentor students on a regular basis while participating in other volunteer efforts.

Parallel18 is a non-partisan initiative that was created by the Puerto Rican Science Trust, which provided $1MM in funding along with an additional $1MM each from the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and the Puerto Rican Industrial Development Company. Sebastian Vidal was recruited from the world-renowned program, Start-Up Chile, to help develop and run the program. During his tenure, he helped more than a thousand entrepreneurs navigate the startup landscape, prepare for investor meetings, raise funds, advise on successful exit strategies and more.

"I am a supporter of any program that seeks to identify unique and strategic ways to help move us from an old and tiered economic model that has brought fiscal crisis, to a technology-based global economic model that brings fiscal strength," said Cyril Meduna, Founder and Managing Partner of Advent-Morro Equity Partners. "Parallel18 will help to accelerate a global entrepreneurial mentality in Puerto Rico and will be a catalyst to transform our culture into one that nurtures, supports and celebrates innovation and risk taking. It is only through this entrepreneurship, innovation and risk-taking that Puerto Rico will become a more prosperous island."

In an effort to retain talent and help startups scale from the island, Parallel18 is launching a follow-on fund called Trust Venture. Trust Venture provides up to $75,000 in matching dollars when a startup raises capital. Acceptance of these funds requires that the business reside and operate on the island. This requirement further highlights the goal of building a community of revenue driven innovative companies in Puerto Rico.

About Parallel18 and The Puerto Rico Science Technology & Research Trust

Operated in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Science Technology & Research Trust, Parallel18 is an economic development initiative that aims to attract and create high-impact startups that can scale from Puerto Rico to global communities beyond the island, including Mainland U.S., Latin America and Europe. The program's mission is to expand the horizons of Puerto Rican entrepreneurs in the short term and create economic development in the long term. The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust is paving the way for a new economic paradigm in paradise, one that maximizes Puerto Rico's participation in the global knowledge economy. By helping implement public policy and infrastructure favorable to the development of a knowledge-based economy, the Trust is a catalyst for socio-economic growth. For more information visit: http://www.parallel18.com.

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