Recovering from months of student riots over controversial education policies that divided youths by class and social standing, President Sebastian Pinera's government Tuesday launched a new initiative to encourage more vocational development and training.
Chile has outlined plans to develop its science and technology industries, regenerate moribund defense manufacturing and upgrade technological industries.
The First Latin American Innovation Summit, which opened Tuesday in partnership with the Institute for Large Scale Innovation and the Government of Chile, will focus on finding and framing new strategies for economic regeneration. The summit is being held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Movistar Innova Center, Santiago.
The conference is focused on Chile but has ambitions to expand activities across South and Central America.
Before the meeting began, summit organizers called on Latin American leaders to develop a regional agenda for innovation that could promote economic development and education in their countries.
Analysts say Latin America needs to apply more innovative solutions to key issues facing its emerging technology industries and not be dependent on imported ideas alone.
Leading the Summit is John Kao, chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, author of Innovation Nation, and former Harvard Business School Professor and co-chair Luis Stein, chief executive officer of Virtual 21 and vice president of ALETI. Stein leads Chile's 2020 technology and innovation policy. The summit is a partnership between ILSI and the government of Chile.
"Latin America recognizes the importance of developing innovation strategies to inform the future and to make great strides in areas of technology, the economy and, significantly, in education," Kao said.
"As innovation becomes a priority for nations around the world, the urgency of generating a Latin American policy for innovation is seen clearly by President Pinera and leaders throughout the continent."
Pinera is keen to project himself as a supporter of new technologies. Student protests over alleged unequal opportunities for Chile's small wealthy minority and tens of thousands of others in high education damaged Pinera's approval ratings.
The president is currently facing a challenge from former president Michele Bachelet, consistently popular across economic classes in Chile, for the Nov. 17 election. Bachelet's bid for presidency has further built up pressure on Pinera to get push forward his agenda for reform.
The summit has brought together a star cast of advocacy groups and their leaders, including Felix de Vicente, Chile's Minister of Economy, Lorraine Hariton, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Dr. Howard Alper, Chair of Canada's Science, Technology and Innovation Council and Steve Blank, a renowned author, educator and entrepreneur.
"The outcomes from the summit are intended to advance the policy agenda for Latin America as well as inform the Pacific Alliance and the World Economic Forum," said Luis Stein, co-chair of the summit. "What we begin in Santiago this week, will set us on a strategic course into the future."
Eighty representatives from more than twenty countries invited to the summit are likely to attend.