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Executive Summary

The Third Edition of the Signs of Competitiveness in the Americas (SCA) report is a product of the collaboration between Authorities and Councils on Competitiveness of the Americas and the institutions that support the work of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC). It is comprised of two main sections. The first one offers an overview on the Human Imagination, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Creativity in the Americas, as key drivers for competitiveness. The second one includes more than fifty five experiences of countries, institutions and other stakeholders related to the ten general principles of competitiveness.

These ten RIAC Competitiveness Principles are part of the Consensus of Santo Domingo approved by representatives from thirty countries, in October 2011, during the Annual Meeting of the RIAC. The Meeting took place within the framework of the V Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in the Dominican Republic and adopted the Consensus and its principles as a central element to the 2020 vision for the Americas.

In 2014, the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development of Trinidad and Tobago, as RIAC Chair Pro Tempore and host of the VIII ACF, chose the theme “Human Imagination at Work, Driving Competitiveness, Powering Innovation”. As such, the institutions that support the work of RIAC, as well as other collaborators have prepared special contributions for the Report, the majority of which focus on the central theme of VIII Americas Competitiveness Forum.

The first part of the Report, starts with a series of “Articles and Interviews on the topics of Human Imagination, Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” including technical contributions and experiences from: The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the “Present and Future Challenges in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Americas and the World”; the Development Bank for Latin America (CAF), addressing “The Role of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in a Competitiveness Agenda”; and Compete Caribbean, providing summaries of two papers, one by Keith Nurse, covering “The Human Imagination, Innovation and Competitiveness in the Caribbean: Small State Challenges and Opportunities”, and the second, by Roberta Rabellotti, discussing “Clusters in the Caribbean: Understanding their Characteristics, Defining Policies for their Development.” The International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada contributes highlights of a paper authored by Rodrigo Varela, “Fostering Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean: The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) in the Caribbean.” Juan. E. Figueroa draws lessons from U.S. experiences to present an “Entrepreneurship Programme for Latin America.” ORKESTRA -The Basque Institute of Competitiveness, contrasts cluster programmes with recent innovation strategies in the document “Connecting Smart Specialization Strategies and Clusters: A Key Challenge in Latin America? It is followed by the presentation of the programme “Competitive Central America” of the Secretariat of Economic Integration of Central America (SIECA). Closing these set of articles, the Dominican Republic National Council of Competitiveness (CNC), shares the Dominican Republic’s considerations on “The Innovation and Intellectual Capital Systems of Businesses” and the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) advances recommendations on gender equality for innovation and competitiveness. This first contribution of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS to the Report addresses competitiveness and innovation from a gender equality perspective and a rights-based approach. This is a significant issue to be taken into account in order to enhance the technical and political dialogue about the impact of gender inequality on the ability of countries to successfully advance in their innovation and competitiveness agendas, both in the national and global context. Along this line, this third edition presents at least two related experiences, the Quality with Equity Model of Uruguay and the Peru’s L’Oréal-UNESCO Award.

Several keynote speakers of the VIII Americas Competitiveness Forum in Trinidad and Tobago shared their expertise in this section, featuring interviews with Deborah Wince-Smith, President & CEO of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness; Howard Alper, Chair of the Government of Canada’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Council (STIC), and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa; Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director, INSEAD European Competitiveness Initiative; Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, Caribbean Export Development Agency; George Gabor Burt, Author of Slingshot; Jane Allen, Global Leader for Renewable Energy, Deloitte; and Kyle Maloney, Director/Founder, Novus Tech Ltd.

Part I of the report also features the conclusions and contributions of the RIAC Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (TFIE), a diverse group of distinguished experts in innovation, entrepreneurship and education from several countries of the Americas, who contributed their ideas and recommendations for the VIII Americas Competitiveness Forum. Megan Shaw and Rosibel Ochoa, from U.C. San Diego, talk about the proof of concept process to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship. Cardinal Warde and Dinah Sah, from the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), emphasize the importance of STEM pathways for the development of the economy of the Caribbean. Maya A. Trotz, from the University of South Florida, highlights the relevance of generating spaces for creativity and human imagination, in order to achieve a sustainable Caribbean. Guillermo Fernández de la Garza, CEO of the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC), pin points key topics on innovation and entrepreneurship for the Americas. Kevin D. Franklin, from the University of Illinois, together with Fernando A. Hernandez and Simon J. Appleford, reflects on how to use management of big data and high-performance computer technology to develop a “Smart Americas”. Horacio Melo, former Executive Director of Start Up Chile, shares five pillars to build a culture based on innovation and entrepreneurship in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The section on the Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, presents summaries of the results of two high-level hands-on programmes to showcase innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems held in the United States and Mexico in 2014. Over 80 government officials, chief executives, entrepreneurs and leaders of Universities from 25 countries had the opportunity to learn first-hand from initiatives in the medical, agro-industrial, manufacturing, and automotive industries in the United States; and information technology, financial and agro-food industries in Mexico. The busy and enriching schedules included site visits to advanced technology operations, innovation hubs, and research and development centres in the cities of Atlanta, Greenville, Conover, Kannapolis and Charlotte in the United States; and through Mexico City, Aguascalientes and Guadalajara in Mexico. Several of these sites, shared as experiences in the Signs of Competitiveness Report in 2012 and 2013, showcased public-private partnerships and investments which have effectively supported innovation development end entrepreneurship in urban and rural areas, in small communities as well as in large metropolitan areas.

The section on the RIAC-ACF Community of Practice (CoP) presents the results of the digital platform developed by the Compete Caribbean Programmes for the VIII ACF. The CoP convenes participants with common academic and professional backgrounds to share ideas, find solutions, innovate and join efforts toward advancing knowledge and collaboration on some of the key topics related to the main theme of the VIII ACF, “Human Imagination at Work, Driving Competitiveness, Powering Innovation.” The virtual RIAC-ACF Community of Practice was one of the deliverables undertaken by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in the 2014 RIAC Work Programme. 

The RIAC Working Group of Experts Meeting on Subnational Competitiveness (GTECS), held its second meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on July 29 to 31, 2014, hosted by the Competitiveness Institute of the Catholic University of Uruguay with the support of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM). This section of the Report provides an overview of the main conclusions, experiences, resources and recommendations shared by the 43 participants from 13 countries and international institutions -CAF, ECLAC, IICA and OAS- contributing in this meeting. The issues discussed included Innovation and Subnational Competitiveness; Competitiveness in Cities; Indicators & Competitiveness Indexes; Clusters Case Studies: Impact on Regional Competitiveness; and Institutional Competitiveness Framework: the Role of National and/or Regional Councils of Competitiveness.

Part II of the 2014 Signs of Competitiveness Report is focused on the experiences shared by countries, institutions and other stakeholders on the ten RIAC Competitiveness Principles. In line with the main theme of the VIII ACF, the Chair Pro Tempore and the RIAC technical Secretariat procured, in particular, contributions of successful programmes on innovation, entrepreneurship, STEM education, skills training and creativity.

The Report includes a quick-reference Quick-reference Directory of RIAC Experiences that compiles all the collaboration opportunities presented by countries and institutions in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Signs of Competitiveness in the Americas Report organized under each of the Ten RIAC Competitiveness Principles. 

As in previous editions, the section  “Experiences in the Americas“ provides an  overview of the  initiatives provided by fifteen countries in 2014, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States and Uruguay.

The experiences presented by countries, institutions and other stakeholders in 2014 are grouped into five subsections: (i) SMEs, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship; (ii) Development of Human Capital; (iii) Regulatory Framework, Business Climate, and Trade; (iv) Energy; (v) Institutions and Programmes. The largest number of experiences presented showcase policies and programs dealing with innovation, SME- development, entrepreneurship and development of creative sectors.

In general, the summary of each experience highlights its primary objective, relevance, results and key lessons, and most importantly, the specific opportunities for collaboration with other RIAC members and its modalities. Every experience indicates what the institution can offer (i.e. information sharing, technical assistance, videoconferences, teleconferences or experts visits). This process seeks to increase the impact of projects in each country and to provide feedback on the work and mechanisms needed to ensure the success of regional cooperation initiatives.