Entrepreneurs present their projects at ASPIRE’s “Pitch Night”

On July 21 and 28, the ASPIRE project hosted “Pitch Night” for local entrepreneurs. Students, alumni, professors, and researchers from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) and affiliates of the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (AGEXPORT) presented their business ideas to a panel of experts and received their suggestions and advice to strengthen their respective start-up ideas. Pitch Nights are designed to help fledgling entrepreneurs connect with business experts to receive practical guidance regarding how they can improve their ideas and plans. They are also designed to build greater awareness and engagement around entrepreneurship opportunities within UVG, and strengthen the overall innovation ecosystem within and outside the university.

The event was held at UVG’s Center for Innovation and Technology (CIT), where a total of 7 seven entrepreneurship teams from a variety of sectors that ASPIRE interacts with presented their ideas and plans. Some of the sectors represented included food, sustainable tourism, and technology development, among others. The expert panel included UVG graduate entrepreneurs, members of the university’s entrepreneurship club, and AGEXPORT professionals. Some of the guidance panel members provided to the teams included:  the importance of understanding specific hurdles that new businesses will face in today’s economic climate, the need to focus on product differentiation, strategies for resilience in the face of crises caused by external factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and mechanisms to ensure quality in value chains.

This effort is part of the extracurricular activities component of ASPIRE, along with Networking Night and other activities. The next Pitch Night will be held on Thursday, September 28, in which 11 additional projects are expected to participate.

About the ASPIRE Project

The Achieving Sustainable Partnerships for Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE) Project is a five-year, $15 million project funded by USAID and implemented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) and the Guatemalan Exporters Association (AGEXPORT). The goal of the project is to create a world-class, replicable model for how Latin American universities and their collaborators can respond to local and regional development needs. The project implements a collaborative approach to research, teaching, innovation, entrepreneurship and tech transfer, based on the combination of local assets and knowledge with MIT’s experience in the innovation ecosystem.

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