Chile’s National Cluster Policy was implemented by the administration of the country’s president, Michelle Bachelet’s, in response to the political will to focus innovation efforts on sectors with the greatest growth potential in the coming years. Five priority industries were identified: mining, agribusiness, aquaculture, special interest tourism and global services.
To organise the policy and press forward with its strategic agenda, a public-private council was established for each cluster. The Global Services council comprises representatives from industry and academia, private business associations and related public agencies. The policy’s goal is for exports in the identified industries to reach $1bn by 2010, a figure close to the value of exports in Chile’s wine industry.
With the end goal of consolidating Chile into a global services platform, the cluster has formed working groups in four core areas: human capital, international promotion, local industry development and infrastructure and regulations. Lines of action have been identified for closing known gaps and maximising opportunities for industry development through a strategic agenda that lays out future actions.
During its two years of operations, the cluster has undertaken a series of actions that have benefited the country and Chile’s existing industry. Achievements include the creation of a national registry of English speakers, which now numbers 41,000 people; 3000 scholarships for improving English awarded to IT professionals and technicians; and the promotion of technical and university-level technology-related majors.
Moreover, Chile’s presence abroad has been reinforced through the participation in fairs, such as one in Bangalore, India, and meetings and activities with other industry stakeholders. The internationalisation of Chilean companies through projects in the US and China has also been supported in order to strengthen the local industry.
The results are promising: In 2008, the global services industry in Chile generated more than $840m in exports and created more than 20,000 qualified jobs.
In addition, about 60 multinational corporations have chosen the country for both investments and expansion. The corporations represent the industry’s entire value chain, from customer service, technical support, and shared services centres to software development and research and development centres.
Carlos Álvarez, executive vice-president (CEO) of CORFO, as well as president of the Global Services cluster’s strategic council, comments on the fast growth in Chile of this non-traditional, human resources and skills-based export industry: “We have made solid and consistent strides toward consolidating Chile as one of the most competitive places for this industry, both in the region and in the world,” says Mr Álvarez.