It takes time and energy to position a country as small (by population) as Uruguay as a reliable and attractive location for start-ups and foreign investors, especially in the technology sector. One of the reasons for Uruguay's appeal to potential investors is the prestigious Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU) - the country's highest instance for quality assurance and measurements.
During our visit of Uruguay in January 2019 we spoke with LATU's CEO, Dr Jorge Silveira Noble. Among other things we asked him how the institution attracts and supports entrepreneurs - here's what he answered.
Jorge, you have been the CEO of the prestigious Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU) since 2006. Earlier you already supported the institution as legal advisor. What makes this institution special for you?
LATU as organization seeks to attract and retain talent, with a strong focus on strengthening their skills and offering continuous development opportunities for those who become part of the network. LATU adds a lot of value - technological and economic - to the sectors with whom it interacts. These are the main reasons why I have been with this prestigious institution for many years.
Briefly, can you tell us why LATU was founded and its main purpose today?
LATU is a non-state public organization which was created in 1965 to provide services to the productive chain. It is now a national and international benchmark in innovation, technology transfer and value solutions in analytical, conformity assessment, metrological and technological services. LATU promotes scientific and entrepreneurial culture, as well as the development of technological platforms.
Those who established LATU 54 years ago understood (and I think with great success) that Uruguay, despite its small size, could have a presence in the international concert for the quality and innovation of its production, and not just for quantity.
Throughout its trajectory, LATU has provided analytical support to productive industries, such as dairy, forestry, textile, cereals, oleaginous and its derived products. We also support the improvement of manufacturing and its insertion in the most demanding markets. As such, LATU offers a wide range of analytical services, with tests accredited by the Uruguayan Accreditation Organization (OUA) and by the Accreditation Service of the United Kingdom (UKAS). Its quality management system - based on ISO 9001 - is certified by the Swiss Association for Quality and Management (SQS).
Essentially, LATU develops the necessary analytical methods for compliance with national and international regulations, in order to overcome technical barriers and to be able to export Uruguayan produce to other markets.
The state relies on LATU for the certification of products - such as food and toys, for environmental control, and for industrial promotion regimes. The analytical capacity of LATU allows it to provide environmental services to the industry, and to assure compliance with national or international standards.
LATU also functions as the National Metrological Institute, a role that involves ensuring that the measurements made in the country are accurate, reliable and comparable both nationally and internationally.
More recently, through its Technology Park, LATU has created an ecosystem of companies and organizations linked to ICT, entrepreneurship and knowledge. It has created an ideal environment for close exchange and networking among actors relevant for entrepreneurs, and to facilitate knowledge transfer.
Ingenio is the business incubator of LATU: in a nutshell, how does it support domestic and international entrepreneurs in succeeding with their ideas and projects?
Ingenio offers entrepreneurs a complete set of services: fully equipped offices, meeting rooms, shared areas, consultants to create a business plan or to help with marketing, legal, innovation or other areas.
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