The Business Year

Creative industries and investment in technology are some of the sectors on which Colombian businesses are betting for big returns.

Diana Gaviria

Director, Connect Bogotá

We work with many large international corporations with strong ties to Colombia and the Latam region. We also have partners that are mostly focused on international markets and clients that have a strong presence in other areas of the region. We do engage with a lot of international companies that need to adapt and develop their international innovation programs to the local conditions and culture. One of the latest partners to join the Connect network is an Italian company called Enel that has had a long presence in Bogotá. Enel has a great innovation and research track record on the international level, and it sees the need to work closely with the local ecosystem to adapt and grow its programs. Innovation is about connecting to networks. Many times, more feasible solutions to local problems are found in local networks, and this is where Connect Bogotá is able to really help. Of all the work we do in innovation, the most complex relationship is that between universities and companies. Linkages between universities and industry is strong in education, and you will find universities and large companies interacting very much in training programs and financing employees’ education. While there is a lot of collaboration on education, most of the universities in the region have traditionally been more focused on education than on research.

Catalina Restrepo Carvajal

Executive Director, ACI Medellí­n

ACI Medellí­n captures and seeks FDI resources for international cooperation to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Medellí­n, and we are aligned with the development plan Medellí­n Cuenta con Vos 2016-2019. Although we have annual goals, for me as a director, long-term goals are more important. For 2018, ACI Medellí­n targeted USD242 million in investment, and as of October, we attracted investments totaling up to USD250 million; we have not only reached our goal, but even exceeded it. As for jobs related to that investment, we achieved almost 2,000. Although we have annual goals, we always aim big because we know we can achieve big things. Medellí­n has many opportunities that we can take advantage of. Therefore, we are a 50-people team focused on Medellí­n and its metropolitan area from different approaches. In terms of cooperation, in 2018 we exceeded expectations. Currently, we have a great project with the Ministry of Transport of Korea that reaffirms Medellí­n’s commitment to air quality and sustainable mobility. Therefore, 2018 has been a tremendously positive year. Medellí­n has the most ambitious science, technology, and innovation policy in Colombia. Currently, we invest 2.4% of the city’s GDP on science, technology, and innovation, when the national average is 0.67%. In 2021, we will invest 3%.

Ximena González Gómez

Director, Ximena González Gómez

We have undergone several changes over the last decade. Invest In Pereira comes under the mayor’s office, the governor’s office, and the local chamber of commerce. It was created 10 years ago because the city had an enormous problem with unemployment. Right now, we have a survey of unemployment that has placed Pereira as the city with the second-lowest unemployment rate. When we started, there was a great deal of poverty in the city. Three institutions created this strategy to promote investment to create value added employment and jobs in Pereira. As of today, the agency is accompanying a number of European and American companies that have created more than 16,000 jobs in the city. In 2018, we saw 3,000 jobs from these companies we attracted to the territory. We are not only attracting investment but improving the conditions to become more appealing for foreign firms. We are in the middle of what we call the Golden Triangle, which includes Bogotá, Cali, and Medellí­n. As a result, it is attractive for international companies to settle here because they are close to the major cities in Colombia, in addition to the port of Buenaventura in the west. That also turns this region into an important location for exports companies. Besides, we have great talent.

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