Building international links with Colombia through innovation

A programme designed to enhance technology exploitation capabilities in Colombia, one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, is being delivered by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation group.

Funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Prosperity Fund, the programme aims to assist Colombia as it transitions from a resource-based economy to one based on science, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Colombian government has committed to spending £500 million annually on science and innovation from 2010-2014, but currently requires additional expertise and capacity in translating research results into successful products and companies.

Key to the establishment of an innovation culture in Colombia is the identification, training and support for a network of Prosperity & Innovation Managers. The network will be piloted in the Valle del Cauca area on the country’s Pacific coast, and if successful, the programme will be rolled out throughout Colombia.

RUPIV, the Red de Universidades por la Innovaćion del Valle del Cauca (Universities Network for Innovation in the Valle del Cauca Region), which serves as the technology transfer office for the region, has identified ten managers, who are the Heads of Technology Transfer Offices in the RUPIV network of universities. The managers will gain a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of innovation and entrepreneurship from Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation group.

The objective of the project is to provide a sustainable infrastructure that can identify suitable opportunities for the commercialisation of research results, and provide the necessary support and ecosystem for innovators and entrepreneurs to succeed. Cambridge Enterprise will provide on-going mentoring and support to RUPIV and its associate organisations.

The project is also supported by iNNpulsa Colombia, the newly-created Colombian Agency established to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. iNNpulsa works to strengthen institutions that demonstrate the ability to accelerate dynamic entrepreneurship, and provides pre-seed, seed and innovative funding options.

Colombia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America. Real GDP grew 5.7% in 2011 and inflation ended 2011 at 3.7%, continuing almost a decade of strong economic performance.

In a visit to the UK in November of last year, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Prime Minister Cameron agreed to develop a stronger bilateral relationship built on science and innovation. Colombia has put innovation as a top priority as part of its 2010-2014 National Development Plan.

The Prosperity Fund was launched in April 2011 and in its first year supported 248 projects across a network of 14 countries and regions at a cost of £19.4m. Its remit is to tackle climate change, strengthen energy security and promote an open global economy in key emerging economies. Fund objectives are aimed at long-term policy changes.

For the financial year 2012-2013, the Programme has an allocation of £19 million devolved to 15 countries and regions. The majority of this funding has already been allocated to projects by posts, who have responsibility for project selection and management.

Photo credit: Plaza Consistorial en Cartagena, by Mugor via flickr

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