Thursday, November 23, 2017

Puerto Rico governor announces creation of Internet of Things Lab

By on November 10, 2017

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and the executive director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (Pridco) Manuel Laboy announced Friday the creation of the the Internet of Things Lab (IoT) in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean as part of the first phase of the Smart City Generating Startup Activity project of Engine-4 in Bayamón.

The Internet of things is a concept based on the online interconnection of products with embedded devices that can send and receive data to solve problems.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló speaks during an IoT Lab event. The co-founder of Engine-4 said project developments are supported by Microsoft, Grupo Guayacán, the Center for Entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend Puerto Rico, and the Science, Technology and Research Trust. (Courtesy)

“This startup laboratory will be the first of its kind in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, which represents a great step forward for the development of this important economic sector. We are promoting its development to position Puerto Rico as a center of innovation and technology in the entire region. Opening this laboratory will benefit many talented people who wish to create technological and innovative projects that generate jobs and contribute to the economic development of the island,” Rosselló Nevares said.

Pridco’s Laboy said that “to support the achievement of that goal, we must encourage the study of IoT in electronics and technology programs at universities in Puerto Rico,” adding that “more students graduating with this new knowledge are needed to place Puerto Rico in IoT world revolution.”

Laboy explained that for this project, Pridco approved a $250,000 incentives grant from the Special Fund for Economic Development (FEDE by its Spanis acronym).

Of this amount, $189,000 will be used to begin the first phase of the Smart City Project, $45,000 for the purchase of equipment and $16,000 for the purchase of four 20-foot containers.

“We are proud that an initiative that began as a pilot project in our city will today become the first IoT laboratory in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, uniting local and foreign universities. The future of Puerto Rico will depend to a large extent on initiatives like this one ahead of the great challenges we will face in the new century,” Bayamón Mayor Ramón Luis Rivera said.

In addition to contributing $260,000 for the project, the municipality has also been working with Obsidis Consortia, a company dedicated to cybersecurity, to create the IoT Learning Center program, which will be part of Bayamón’s Smart City program.

Engine 4 Corp. co-founder Luis Torres, along with his brother, José Torres, explained that the University of Puerto Rico and the InterAmerican University are part of the initiative and are asking other schools to join via electronics and tech programs. Part of the plan is for students to participate in seminars and workshops with specialized mentors.

“Universities are the seedbed of talent, Engine-4 is the hub to create and private entities the way to commercialize projects that will contribute to the creation of jobs once they go from being pilot projects to becoming real projects that contribute to solve the real problems of the community: security, health, education and economy, among others,” Torres said.

The co-founder of Engine-4 said project developments are supported by Microsoft, Grupo Guayacán, the Center for Entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend Puerto Rico, and the Science, Technology and Research Trust, which also approved a $50,000 grant for the creation and development of the IoT Laboratory.

“Initially, the six winning teams of the 2017 Hackathon held in August will be working in the new laboratory, made up of technology experts who worked on the Smart City concept. Once prototypes that reach production are developed in the new laboratory, more students from other universities in Puerto Rico, the United States and other countries will be arriving to create innovative projects that will serve as a good source of jobs in Puerto Rico,” Torres added.

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