Patricia Hurtado de Suarez
30 May, 2020 | BX Crew
SANTA CRUZ INNOVA
Patricia Hurtado de Suarez studied law at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain and held management positions in the Chamber of Industry, Commerce, Services and Tourism of Santa Cruz (CAINCO). She was Executive Director of the Centre for Conciliation and Arbitration, Coordinator of International Cooperation Programmes aimed at improving the competitiveness of the private sector and General Secretary of ICC Bolivia. She also held the position of studies manager at CAINCO, where she was in charge of the Bolivian Centre for Economic Studies (CEBEC), a Bolivian think tank.
Currently she works as manager of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at CAINCO, and is in charge of the coordination of one of the first Bolivian innovation agency. She is a member of the editorial board of the magazine Forbes Bolivia. Patricia is a benchmark in the Bolivian business sector for her technical contribution and her vision for economic and social development. She is a columnist and promoter of innovation, science and technology, as well as gender equality and female entrepreneurship.
The interview was translated from the Spanish and has been edited for clarity.
How was Innova Santa Cruz born? What is the mission and vision of Innova Santa Cruz?
We want to contribute to the transition from a commodity economy to a knowledge economy. To move from a traditional business fabric to a place where more sophisticated businesses that incorporate innovation with science and technology.
We also want to support the growth of Bolivian enterprises, and promote an environment favourable to entrepreneurship and business innovation which will increase the economic and social value of our country.
What were the challenges that Innova Bolivia Santa Cruz had to face in order to be born and grow?
Limited capacities for innovation; we need more programmers, we need to train more people with technological and business skills.
Low supply of specialised services in the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, science and technology; accelerators, co-work and work communities have just started to appear in Bolivia.
Limited financial offer of resources for the initial stages of innovation projects. There are few funding alternatives to traditional banking for entrepreneurs.
Disarticulation between actors (entrepreneurs, companies, research, investors).
What does belonging to Innova Santa Cruz mean for a business?
It is an opportunity to receive technical assistance with an international methodology. To network with CAINCO affiliated corporations, with mentors, entrepreneurs. Our differentiating element is that whoever comes to our programmes lives a true business experience.
What plans do you have for the growth of Innova Santa Cruz and what projects would you like to develop?
We would like to consolidate our Innova Up Accelerator as a benchmark for entrepreneurs,
Support corporations through our InnovatIon Circle Program to generate value products, promote the connection of the actors through a Future Plan such as the Science, Technology and Innovation Plan.
What lessons have you gained from the Bolivian market in general since the creation of Innova Santa Cruz? Were there surprises?
The surprise has been to find more ventures than we imagined throughout the country. The Bolivian has an entrepreneurial DNA, entrepreneurs are brave, risky, they fight for their dreams.
What aspects should be strengthened to motivate innovation and the creation of start-ups in Bolivia?
It is necessary to improve the environment and generate rules that facilitate the entry and survival in the market. It is also necessary to create a culture for entrepreneurship from schools, and facilitate access to capital in the initial stages of entrepreneurship.
How are you planning to expand?
We want to support the entrepreneurial culture, but also focus on the sectors that we consider to be potential to achieve more productivity, such as Agtech, losgitiva and creative economy.
How do you think entrepreneurship will change in the future in Bolivia? How is the current context going to impact entrepreneurship? And what solutions are there?
Entrepreneurship is the foundation of Bolivia's economic and social development. The health and economic emergency will only be overcome with economic growth. There are sectors that have more potential than others, but everyone can contribute. Companies must rethink their post-Covid business models and adapt to the new reality. Digital transformation is no longer an option, but we always have to put people at the center.