The main objective of the first SQM Lithium Ventures Corporate Acceleration Program is to find and promote new technologies and innovations related to lithium. Organized in collaboration with Endeavor, the application process beings on March 6.
At SQM we recognize the value of entrepreneurs and startups and want to accompany them from the earliest stages of development to scaling, while also attracting technological talent and investing in the startups. We also want to be a key component of the economic, social and environmental progress of our country, from Chile to the world, built on a knowledge economy, which highlights the irreplaceable role of entrepreneurship in growth, employment and social mobility, associated with the lithium industry, from Antofagasta to the world.
The “SQM Lithium Ventures Corporate Acceleration Program” is focused on entrepreneurs and startups, both from Chile and around the world, that offer transformative solutions and opportunities to address the challenges of the lithium industry in Chile. The selected entrepreneurs will receive USD 25,000 from SQM, strategic support for defining and scaling their businesses and the possibility of accessing subsequent financing through the SQM Lithium Ventures fund, among other funding opportunities.
Through this initiative, we want to be a relevant actor for startups and accompany them from the early stages, through a global corporate acceleration program based in Antofagasta (Seed Series) and then through corporate venture capital investment (Series A) for scaling.
To this end, the focus of this call is to find projects that solve lithium business challenges in one of these three verticals: The first is sustainability, which focuses on finding applied technologies to improve efficiencies in water consumption, loss, evaporation and availability in Chile.
The second is related to efficient processes, where we are looking for initiatives aimed at improving hydrometallurgical and chemical processes, energy and carbon footprint, which may have applications in lithium production.
The third and last key area is electromobility, a pillar that seeks technologies or innovations that increase the added value, social impact and speed of adoption, among others, of this market.
Entrepreneurs may apply with initiatives, ideas or projects. They do not need to be incorporated or have sales.
Application and Selection Process
After the application period, a jury of SQM business specialists and Endeavor business design experts will pre-select 25 entrepreneurs or startups, of which up to 10 will be part of the final program. They will be accompanied by SQM experts and Endeavor mentors through mentoring sessions and workshops, in order to develop their value propositions, business models and gauge the impact on the challenges of the lithium business.
In this process, participants will have access to Investment Readiness, to support them in the key factors for success in business development; an Advisory Board with technical mentors from SQM and Endeavor’s global network; Business Strengthening through workshops and academies; access to the Community and Networking, opportunities to exchange experiences and best practices; and access to a local and global Financing Network for subsequent stages. They will also be able to participate in visits to SQM’s plants and the Salar de Atacama, among others. Subsequently, participants will present their projects at a Demo Day, which is the entrepreneurs’ final opportunity to explain how their proposals provide solutions to the future challenges posed and how they envisage the relationship with SQM.
Capital Fund to Strengthen the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
SQM Lithium Ventures, an unprecedented initiative in the country that seeks to accelerate entrepreneurship in its different stages in the Antofagasta Region, Chile and the world, was launched at the end of 2022.
This corporate venture capital fund was launched in Antofagasta, a region that will play a leading role as a natural laboratory, recognized for its high potential for business development and scaling.
“At SQM we are betting on a corporate venture capital fund to accompany entrepreneurs from the earliest stages to the scaling phases,” says María de los Ángeles Romo, director of SQM Corporate Venture in the office of the Senior Vice President of Lithium. “The value of the link with entrepreneurs, technology and startups allows us as an organization to have greater speed of reaction to Los challenges that the market demands, such as reductions in water use, new applications for lithium and processes associated with product yield and electromobility and value-added initiatives. In this way, as a company we will be better prepared to solve global problems, with a local and sustainable approach,” she concludes.
Gonzalo Yun, manager of Endeavor Atacama, highlighted: “We appreciate that SQM, a company with a regional presence, but with a global impact in the development of non-metallic mining, seeks solutions and development in three areas, which are lithium technology, electromobility and water management. Endeavor’s role will be to link a select group of global entrepreneurs to the region, through strategic support with our network of mentors in various areas, including strategic planning, technological development and support for raising capital. It is key to strategically support this group of entrepreneurs from the region but with a global perspective, given that the lithium industry has international impact and importance.”
The application process begins March 6 and will run through April 7.
Entrepreneurs may apply directly through a form available on SQM’s website, where they can also download the program’s terms and conditions.
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