Just over two years ago — on September 9, 2014 — almost 400 companies got together to sign an innovation pact, “El Gran Pacto por la Medellín,” in Colombia’s second largest city and technology hotbed. The goal was to ensure that the progress that had already been achieved would continue.
By getting all the stakeholders together in a formal endeavor, the hope was that Medellín could further accelerate its incredible transformation from global murder capital into what some say could become the Silicon Valley of South America.
Photo: Ruta N’s impressive brick-colored building sits in the middle of Medellín like a beacon of innovation. (Credit: Ruta N)
Advancing the public/private partnerships, as well as increasing collaboration with academia, was a key objective. The results, in terms of attracting more buy in, have been clear: What started with 399 organizations signing on has grown to a list of 2,315. It has also expanded its mission geographically by encouraging other areas to follow suit.
The major cities of Cali, Barranquilla, Cúcuta, and Bucaramanga have all since signed innovation pacts of their own, and the capital of Bogotá just initiated its pact this month on September 12. Other cities in the center of the country will also put their pacts into force in the coming weeks. Manizales and Armenia plan to sign on October 11 and Pereira will do so the following day.
Medellín-based tech accelerator Ruta N — which along with the federal Colciencias innovation promotion agency has been a leader of the pact — hopes all this momentum will help reach the larger goal. By 2021, it hopes that the signatories will be investing at least 3% of their sales back into “activities in science, technology, and innovation” (ACTI).
Earlier this year, Ruta N chief Alejandro Franco elaborated on his organization’s ambitious goals to push forward innovation and technology in Colombia in an interview with Finance Colombia. “We want, by 2018, to accumulate nearly 9,000 jobs, and, by 2021, to have generated 295 new businesses established here in Medellín,” said Franco.
He added that, “We also want to see 40% of jobs in the city come from innovative themes. And we want there to be a capital available of close to a billion pesos — we’re talking about something around US$400 million — available in venture investment for all the initiatives coming out of the city.”