Tiny Uruguay has such a small local market, companies there must think globally. Luckily, they're prepared to do so: Local education rates are rising, and expats such as Wi-Fi pioneer Pablo Brenner are returning. (He founded the country's first VC firm, Prosperitas Capital Partners.) These are some of the winners in this emerging tech hub.
A full-service TV content distributor, providing a platform, low-cost servers, and cloud-based monitoring to local TV networks at reduced cost.
Why: TV networks typically pay satellite distributors a fortune in order to reach viewers. The company's technology helps open up the satellite market to niche channels—the small guys, something Uruguayans can appreciate.
A software development studio founded by Evan Henshaw-Plath, who was also the first employee at Odeo, the company that would become Twitter.
Why: As startups proliferate, demand for software developers is growing. The community of programmers in Montevideo is "very strong," says Henshaw-Plath, particularly in the Ruby on Rails programming language.
A low-cost, cloud-based system for small health clinics to monitor their patients' progress.
Why: Patient noncompliance is one of the biggest issues in the health care industry, and in countries like Uruguay, small clinics wind up providing follow-up care to patients who simply didn't take their medicine. Clinixon claims that this system is easier to use than other programs on the market.
[Illustration by Peter Oumanski]
A version of this article appeared in the April 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.