Technological District: with Mercado Libre, there are already 314 companies in the Silicon Valley of Argentina
Just 10 years ago, Parque Patricios was one more neighborhood of the postponed southern zone of the City of Buenos Aires. Far from the business ecosystem of the City or the new towers of Puerto Madero, the area based its economy on old workshops, neighborhood businesses and short-term neighborhood ventures.
It averaged 2008 when the Buenos Aires government announced the creation of the Technological District, a project that promised to revitalize the area and turn it into the innovation powerhouse of the City.
In the manner of Silicon Valley, Parque Patricios took a 180 degree turn: the old neighborhood economies gave way to new offices, full of talent, fresh money and youth.
The beginning was timid, but in the following years the concept managed to consolidate itself in the Argentine entrepreneurial imagination, which saw the District as an obligatory stop to start, develop and expand all kinds of technology-based initiatives.
Strictly speaking, the project was born within the framework of the Economic Districts policy, which is based on tax incentives governed by Law 2972 (modified by Law 5927), whose term of validity extends until the year 2034.
The regulation establishes that the companies that register in the Technological District register have access to the following exemptions:
• Tax on gross income or deferred payment
• Stamp tax
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Today, the fruits of that bet are seen. According to numbers provided to iProUP by the Undersecretary of Economic Development, under the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the City, the Technological District has a committed investment of $ 355 million and 314 companies located. In addition, it already brings together 12,304 employees and another 18,940 projected for 2019.
The Polo is a central element in the plans of the team led by Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. For Martín Mura, Minister of Economy and Finance of the Buenos Aires government, the main objective is to promote "the economic development of the City in its strategic sectors." We are convinced that technology is a key industry for growth and that is why we promote companies and entrepreneurs to continue adding to the Technological District. "
Julián Cohen, Undersecretary of Economic Development, adds: "This public policy has not only generated more jobs and growth for the ICT industry, but has also allowed transforming a neighborhood like Parque Patricios, which today has a better urban infrastructure, with more commercial alternatives and employment generation ".
A consolidated idea
The arrival of high profile companies has intensified in recent years. In this sense, the opening of the new offices of Mercado Libre in 2018 worked as a perfect corollary for the 10 years of the initiative: the largest company in the country is already part of the day to day of a community that breathes ones and zeros.
In dialogue with iProUP, Diego Salama, Vice President of Product Development of the e-commerce giant, explains the details of the plan: "In 2016 we launched an expansion project that included the inauguration of a headquarters in Parque Patricios. of technology, we are proud to be part of the Technological Pole of the City of Buenos Aires with new offices where we mostly lodge collaborators of the Mercado Libre software development team. "
The executive adds that currently, they have 500 active positions in the headquarters, with collaborators specialized in technology, user experience, human resources and infrastructure for the operation throughout the region. The building has three floors for 600 seats, so Mercado Libre is already in process to cover 100 more posts in the near future.
In total, the development involved an investment of $ 601 million. According to Salama, it is part of the company's growth plan, which foresees a total investment of $ 1,500 million, the construction of 22,000 m2 of offices and 5,000 new jobs. The "unicorn" already executed approximately $ 750 million of that budget.
The companies located in the area have all kinds of structures. IPLAN, which was one of the first to bet heavily on the Technological District, has its datacenters there, inaugurated in 2012.
For Pablo Saubidet, co-founder and president of the communications firm, "the main factors at the time of deciding the filing were the economic benefit of the tax exemptions and the possibility of accessing an accessible price to the large land we needed".
In this regard, he adds that "we would not have moved if we had not been convinced that, in the long term, the objectives sought by the City government for the area would be achieved, that is, the appreciation of the South in general, and Parque Patricios in particular, and the development of a pole that fosters and enhances one of the most important competitive advantages that Argentina has in terms of economic insertion in the world, which is the talent associated with creativity and technological innovation ".
The total investment of the project was US $ 20 million. Today, it has 50 people working in the building, who perform various tasks in the areas of Datacenter Infrastructure and Operations, with their teams oriented to IT and Telecommunications services.
Saubidet emphasizes that the arrival to the neighborhood was not a simple process, since "there was resistance on the part of the employees who were involved in the change of location".
"The neighborhood was quite unknown in general and most had the image of what Parque Patricios had been so far, a site more oriented to residential and manufacturing, without services aimed at a younger audience," he adds.
The perception, little by little, was changing. The executive explained to iProUP that "radical changes were generated in terms of access and transport, safety and quality of life, as of the arrival of the subway, for example, of the investment in lighting, security and the enhancement of the park. improvements undoubtedly led to a great change that give value to Parque Patricios ".
Such changes are so palpable that many employees no longer want to return to work at the Center. "I think it is becoming the oldest and at the same time the youngest neighborhood in the city of Buenos Aires, thanks to its number of talents trained in knowledge of technology and innovation," he celebrates.
For ITBA, his arrival was in tune with the vision projected by the City Government on the development of the program.
"Our project starts in 2013, with what was the acquisition of land, in the district there is a set of advantages applicable to all ICT companies, but this scheme of benefits for universities and non-profit entities does not work as much ", says Rodrigo Fernández, general director of Finance and Infrastructure of the university.
The new headquarters, of 10,000 m2, had an approximate cost of US $ 13 million. There work three buildings, whose covered area reaches 6,200 m2 and where more than 1,000 students of all their careers pass.
The director clarifies that for the institution "the trust that the project was transmitting to us at that moment was most important." Imagine a very active and innovative Polo where the universities, and in particular the ITBA, were a central axis of the innovation ecosystem for the City. "
The synergy with other firms installed a few meters away was another fundamental item to bet on Parque Patricios. Although the ITBA has a deep relationship with a large part of the technology companies, projects with signatures from the area have been strengthened "due to the issue of proximity and being within the same district," Fernández says.
"When we started in 2013, believing that the district was going to be what it is today was quite a challenge, beyond the effort and development that we carry out with our own headquarters, there is a very positive balance with the whole pole, since the neighborhood was also accompanying the development of the university, including improvements in the quality of life and everything that can become a complement to the activities of the university.
The future, meanwhile, looks promising. 91% of the companies installed are of national origin, confirming the good moment of the innovation segment in the country.
In addition, the real estate plan continues to rise: a report by the consultancy Colliers International highlights that the district has 159,000 m2 of inventory, but only 10,000 m2 are still in rent, whose values per square meter range between US $ 18 and US $ 25. per month. A round business.