MEDELLINNOVATION

Colombia 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: MEDELLÍN

After winning the prestigious 'City of the Year' Award organized by the Wall Street Journal and Citi Group in 2013, Medellín has quickly become one of the most innovative cities in the world.

Medellín's “City of the Year” awards from the Wall Street Journal and Citi Group in 2013 were a huge coup for a city previously known as one of the most violent of the world, and its remarkable progress has only continued since. Besides focusing on development issues such as infrastructure, education, public transport, and the reduction of criminality, Medellín has pledged to focus on technology as one of the main pillars of the city's evolution. In fact, the digitization and innovative emphasis on its urban planning contributed to Medellín capturing the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize in 2016. The Science, Technology and Innovation (CTi) program, for example, has set up a strategic route that will lay the foundations of a cutting-edge Medellín until 2021, proposing the development of capabilities to innovate and contribute to the Regional System of Innovation's efficiency and quality.

In order to encourage, promote and coordinate the research and technological development for the city proposed by the CTi program, the Council of Medellín defined its application as public policy. Furthermore, 7% of the ordinary surplus that Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) hands over to the municipality of Medellín will be used to finance the program.

In order to carry out the CTi program, the 'Ruta N' complex was built, which consists of a network of 32,000sqm distributed throughout three buildings. The first is dedicated to Hewlett Packard's Global Service Center, the second to the Ruta N corporation (141 companies from 23 countries) and the city's priority innovation projects, and the third to EPM, UNE Telecommunications, and Medellín's main universities.

Ruta N promotes projects like VIVELAB, MEDIATECA, and ÁRTICA, which, respectively, seek to boost digital animation, facilitate access to information on new technology, and test new technological products and services. In addition, the partnership between Ruta N and the Agency for Cooperation and Investment in Medellín and the Metropolitan Area (ACI), offers the 'Business Landing' program, an option for foreign companies interested in investing in technology, information, and communications (TICs). This program has generated 2,111 direct jobs since 2012. Summed to this, EPM has recently launched a public lab devoted to work on innovative and futuristic projects.

'District Medellinnovation' is a space in the northern part of Medellín, which aims to be the center of a citywide transformation and promotion of innovation. It contains four universities and 48 institutions working on science, technology, and innovation. 46% of the space is used for housing, 23% for offices and R&D, 18% for production, 10% for hotels and retail, and 2% for public facilities. Technological advances, such as sensitive urban equipment, media facades, responsive furniture, interactive ecology, smart roads, and digital plazas, constantly surround approximately 11,000 people living and working in the area.