By Nitin Dahad
Two years ago, I interviewed Diego Molano Vega, the then minister for ICT for Colombia on the country’s policy to alleviate poverty and create jobs through the use of technology via the ‘Vive Digital’ program. Now the country’s innovation Hub, Medellin, has ambitions for its startup ecosystem to scale their businesses through global expansion with a new tie up in Miami.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed between Medellin’s Ruta N in Colombia and the Cambridge Innovation Center Miami (CIC Miami) in the USA will create a connection between the companies located in the two cities to exchange experiences, practices, resources and knowledge and to facilitate the expansion and growth of entrepreneurship linked to both institutions.
Ruta N has also partnered with the University of Miami and its Center for Computational Science to connect in innovation activities based on e-science, big data and intelligent cities, by strengthening the capacities through efforts by both cities. This new association will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to access valuable information in Colombia and the United States, as well as provide strategic connections with local clients, capital, human resources and expert advice, thus facilitating their entry and expansion in both markets by promoting new investment and business opportunities.
Colombia has set out to tackle the challenge of doubling its investment in science, technology and innovation activities, to promote the country’s technological development, meeting the needs of its production apparatus and contributing to the improvement of social indicators. The objective is to go from today’s 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the GDP in 2018 in Innovation activities.
Alejandro Franco, executive director of Ruta N, said, “Working with the Cambridge Innovation Center and Miami’s business ecosystem is vital for the consolidation of Medellin as an innovation hub. This agreement facilitates the arrival of new companies in our innovation district and the establishment of our local startups in Miami. We have continued working to connect Medellin to the world and the world to Medellin.”
Medellin is at the heart of innovation in Colombia, thanks to the social and economic transformation of the last 20 years. Ruta N was part of the new vision of a business ecosystem, supporting the development of financial and IT services with national and foreign companies.
Sergio Escobar, the executive director of ACI Medellin said, “Through these ties of cooperation which we are weaving between Medellin and the world, we have an impact on the quality of life of our people and, in this particular case, we are increasing opportunities for local entrepreneurs by facilitating their access to such an important market, as that of the United States, and to an ecosystem of innovation as relevant as Miami’s one, in addition to continuing to strengthen the arrival of foreign enterprises in the city to carry out high-value-added activities, thus increasingly strengthening initiatives such as the innovation district of Medellin.”
According to Natalia Martínez-Kalínina, leader of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC Miami), this alliance opens a new stage of collaboration. “To us, it is crucial to establish tangible and bidirectional bridges of cooperation between the region’s innovation centers. Miami can contribute real value as the isthmus of the hemisphere and connecting point with the United States. In turn, Medellin has stood out as a pacesetter, not only in Colombia, but in Latin America, due to the effort placed into bringing together and training the entrepreneurial talent. As such, we are very excited to have the opportunity to work together in order to facilitate the exchange, training and collaboration of entrepreneurs, investors, institutions, et al in our respective cities.”