Chile's President Banks on Tech to Help Defeat Poverty

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Sebastian Pinera, president of Chile, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., U.S., on June 4, 2013. Close

Sebastian Pinera, president of Chile, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington,... Read More

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Sebastian Pinera, president of Chile, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., U.S., on June 4, 2013.

Chile is on a roll. The country's growth rate is 6 percent; retail sales are booming; and unemployment is the lowest on record.

In order for the country to maintain its economic expansion, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera is looking to the technology sector. He spoke with Charlie Rose in an interview, which appears in Bloomberg Businessweek.

"We're almost doubling our investment rate in science and technology," Pinera said. "We need to grow at 6 percent, because if we do that, before the end of this decade, Chile might become the first -- though hopefully not the only -- Latin American country able to defeat poverty and overcome underdevelopment."

President Pinera highlighted government programs aimed at developing the country's tech industry. One, called Start-Up Chile, gives grants of about $40,000 to entrepreneurs -- and has received an enthusiastic endorsement from Evernote CEO Phil Libin.

"We're trying to attract innovators from all over the world," Pinera said. "We've been able to attract more than 1,000 entrepreneurs. At the same time, we're sending Chilean innovators to Silicon Valley or other places for them to be able to learn this atmosphere, this culture of innovation, science, technology. Innovation can be learned."

Still, turning Chile into a hub of innovation won't be easy, especially with other countries trying to cultivate a tech industry by offering grants and free trips to the Valley. Canada is trying to woo entrepreneurs with billboards and special startup programs. Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon donned virtual-reality goggles on a trip to Palo Alto, California, earlier this year, demonstrating his country's dedication to tech.

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