Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Will Cuba become a future Silicon Beach?

Will Cuba become a future Silicon Beach?

It might be forever before North America's next technology hotbed lands somewhere off the beaches of Cuba. But at least one event organizer is seeking to be on the inside track in helping turn such a dream into reality.

Techweek, which puts together networking events for tech startups and investors, traveled to Havana last week for its first event in Cuba. After more than 50 years of contentious relations, the U.S. restored full diplomacy with the communist country in July.

Megan Scharf, media director for Techweek, says the three-day event attracted 60 executives and scholars, including Linda Darragh of the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative at Northwestern University, Matt McGraw of the mobile supply chain company DSI, and Howard Tullman, managing partner of Chicago High Tech Investment Partners.

Chicago-based Techweek bills itself as "a traveling celebration of innovation, creativity, risks, rewards,exciting meetups and other cool stuff." It typically hosts a seven-day series at events, including a two-day conference and expo, in various cities.

"We are looking to inspire creative Cuban entrepreneurs and business owners and give them a platform to discuss technologies and practices that might help kick-start their endeavors in Cuba and perhaps the United States," Scharf told IBD via email.

At the very least, Cuba may become a lucrative arena for companies that serve to build bridges of commerce and information exchange between the two countries. The Techweek Cuba event itself costs participants $4,000 a head, but that included a charter flight to Havana and back.

Commercial flights to Havana from the U.S. are slated to begin this month.

A Techweek event in Los Angeles last month attracted not only tiny startups, but also exhibitors from IBM (NYSE:IBM) 's Bluemix project team and from Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). Both of these tech giants are eager to offer Web, cloud and software development services to ambitious coders and app developers.
Tue, Dec 08 2015 00:00:00 E00_WEB

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