Adding fuel to Colombia’s innovation ecosystem

Author:María del Pilar Noriega - Laura Restrepo - Laura Moscoso
Position:Director General - Biomedical Engineer - Lawyer, (ICIPC), Medellín, Colombia
SUMMARY

Colombia is Latin America’s fourth-largest oil producer. As such, oil and gas have played and continue to play an important role in its economy, catalyzing the development of many downstream industries, including petrochemicals, plastics and rubber used in manufacturing an array of consumer goods.

 
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For over two decades, Colombia’s Rubber and Plastic Institute for Training and Research (ICIPC), a non-profit technology development center, has been at the forefront of efforts to boost innovation, increase productivity and enhance the competitiveness of companies operating in the country’s plastics, rubber and associated industries. Just three years after it began operations in 1993, ICIPC partnered with COLCIENCIAS, the government’s science, technology and innovation arm, further cementing its role as a key player in Colombia’s drive to strengthen and expand its national innovation ecosystem.

ICIPC’s mission is to “convert knowledge into wealth”, and it has been widely recognized for its success in doing that for the companies it works with. Its extensive experience in generating knowledge and transferring it to the private sector offers useful insights for those engaged in developing and applying successful innovation and technology transfer practices.

ICIPC provides technology solutions to the plastics, rubber and related industries in Colombia and Latin America. To date it has worked with more than 1,200 enterprises. More than 700 of them operate in the sector and are based in Colombia’s main cities. ICIPC also undertakes state-of-the-art laboratory tests (according to ISO standards) for quality control and assurance in support of R&D and innovation projects, and training programs.

Building an effective and sustainable national innovation system is a multi-faceted, long-term and complex process involving multiple actors. Thanks to a series of political and institutional reforms in Colombia in recent years, innovation and innovative entrepreneurship are on the rise.

The government’s staunch commitment to strengthening the country’s capabilities in the area of science, technology and innovation (STI), and to ensuring that it improves people’s lives, are beginning to bear fruit. In the recently published Global Innovation Index (GII) 2016, Colombia emerged as the fifth most innovative economy in Latin America (with a global ranking of 63). But with its sights set on becoming the most innovative country in Latin America by 2025, there is still a great deal to do to expand and strengthen the national innovation ecosystem.

The overriding aims of Colombia’s innovation policy are to drive sustainable economic and social development and to improve the wellbeing of Colombians. Success will depend on upscaling the innovation system and ensuring that it responds not only to market demand, but also to social demand for innovation in areas...

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