Idea Foundry Hosts Virtual Innovation Bridge Program

October 5, 2021

Through continued support from the U.S. Embassy in Santiago and our new partner ChileGlobal Ventures, Idea Foundry hosted a virtual version of our Global Innovation Bridge Program for 10 selected companies in the ChileGlobal Ventures portfolio.

On October 19th, Idea Foundry virtually welcomed a cohort of 10 companies from the portfolio of ChileGlobal Ventures, an arm of Fundación Chile, one of the largest entrepreneurial support organizations in Chile, which has been supporting startups for over 40 years. This program was a long time in coming, as it was originally set to take place in-person in Pittsburgh in April 2020. After needing to postpone due to the pandemic, we optimistically monitored the situation in both Chile and Pittsburgh throughout the Spring and Summer, hoping that the program could go on as planned in the fall. Together with the ChileGlobal Ventures team, we made the difficult decision to to adapt the program to a virtual format for the safety of all involved. While we were all disappointed that the participants would not be able to experience Pittsburgh first-hand and get the full immersion in the city, by changing to an online format, we were able to open the program up to more participants and actually doubled the count from 5 companies to 10.

The participating companies, selected through vetting from both the ChileGlobal Ventures and Idea Foundry teams, were quite mature in their home markets and represented a wide range of industries, from educational technologies to innovative dietary supplements. These factors made for an engaging program, with productive connections and meetings. The group participated in two weeks of online seminars, one-to-one mentorship, a virtual pitch event, and connections to key leaders and organizations in the region's ecosystem. We scheduled a virtual demo day for 5 of the participants with local angel investors and connected them with representatives from the City of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, various successful portfolio companies and regional businesses. While the formal program has just ended, several participants are already working on follow-up activities based off of their experience, and we are continuing to work with the group to further support their work and make connections with our ecosystem.

This is the second year in which Idea Foundry has developed and hosted a Global Innovation Bridge Program. Last year, we received our first support from the U.S. Embassy in Santiago to bring a group of 11 Chilean entrepreneurs to Pittsburgh for 2 weeks. The first program validated the value proposition and strengthened ties between Pittsburgh's entrepreneurial ecosystem and that of Chile. We were able to leverage this validation to secure ChileGlobal Ventures as a partner for this year's program and to gain additional support from the Embassy for a second edition of the program. We were truly impressed by the quality and maturity of ChileGlobal Ventures' portfolio, and both partners were essential to the success of the program.

While it wasn't in the original format intended, the Virtual Global Innovation Bridge Program of 2020 still generated the desired impact and opened doors for continued collaboration which were previously unknown. The virtual meetings still conveyed the same individualized support that we hoped to deliver in-person. Looking to the future, we are of course hoping to bring back in-person GIBPs, but would also be open to hosting virtual versions as well, which may be accessible to a wider pool of entrepreneurs. While we plan to continue working in Chile, we hope to bring GIBPs to other parts of the world as well.

Participating Companies:

1) Austral Falcon - An agricultural technology using machine vision and AI to estimate crop yield and other key information.

2) CitySense - A Smart Cities company which develops sensor infrastructure to measure a variety of characteristics, including air quality, movement of people, etc.

3) FourDPlan - A SaaS company that assists in the creation of construction plans, 4D Modeling, BIM, and resource/process optimization.

4) Kuwala - An educational videogame development company that aims to teach emotional intelligence and social skills

5) Maquintel - A robotics manufacturing company that has developed products to reach difficult access places in cement and metal pipes

6) Matchetune - A turmeric-based antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement, formulated with nanotechnology for enhanced solubility

7) Polynatural - A natural, organic compound coating for produce to help reduce food waste and preserve freshness.

8) Silabuz - A virtual education platform that offers programming courses specifically designed for Spanish-speaking youth

9) SimpliRoute - a SaaS company designed to optimize delivery processes, including route optimization, resource management and tracking, etc.

10) U-Planner - a SaaS company for higher education institutions which works with universities to develop and provides classroom and resource optimization

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