| 4 minute read

Ruta N Transcends the Boundaries of Innovation in Colombia

Alexandra Zinovyeva

Ruta N, based in
Medellin, Colombia has been lauded as one of the most innovative hotbeds in the
world. Having emerged as a joint public venture, Ruta N serves as a platform
that helps spur development of innovative, tech-based companies. Acting as a
catalyst for the thriving innovative ecosystem, Ruta N has certainly
contributed to Medellin being hailed as the world’s “Most Innovative City”, an
award conferred by the Wall Street Journal, Citi Financial Group and Urban Land
Institute. Situated in a 33,140m2 three-building complex, Ruta N  is home to 
EPM-UNE research
laboratories, the ViveLab animation learning centre, international companies,
and international start-ups.

The story of Ruta N began in 2009 when the
City of Medellin joined forces with public telecommunications company EPM-UNE in
accomplishing the mission to transform the city into an innovation mecca.  The joint undertaking was rooted in the Strategic
Plan (Strategic
Science, Technology and Innovation Plan 2011-2021
) that identified three priority areas relevant
to the regional context, those being: information and communication
technologies (ICTs), energy, and health. The plan ambitiously aims to turn
Medellin into the Latin American capital
of innovation

The Core
Mission and Activities

To achieve its ambitious mission, the Strategic
Plan lays out 3 directorates:

  • The Directorate for Innovation Platforms
    is charged with developing and improving the conditions of the regional
    innovation system with main target groups being universities, business
    incubators, technology development centres and knowledge brokers.
  • The Directorate for Knowledge-based Business is responsible for facilitating the activities of knowledge-based
    businesses, encouraging high value transactions and fostering the supportive
    ecosystem in general.
  • The Directorate for Innovation Culture
    is tasked with promoting social appropriation of science, technology and
    innovation and fostering inclusion and sustainability in the city of Medellin.

One of the colossal missions further includes
the creation of Medellinnovation
, a technological district next to the
University of Antioquia in the north of the city, with the aim of attracting
the best companies, institutions and entrepreneurs primarily in the areas of
health, energy, and Information Technology and Communications.

The core
activities undertaken by the centre include: (1) developing entrepreneurial talent, (2) establishing strong networks both inside and outside the ecosystem,
(3) securing capital for innovation,
and (4) providing adequate and sufficient
infrastructure for start-ups and innovative companies. In the frame of developing
and shaping talent, predominantly in the areas of STEM, Ruta N has designed and
implemented various educational programs for schoolchildren in different
grades. In its attempt to contribute to social dimension, sustainability and
inclusivity Ruta N delivers free workshops, offers fablabs and creative working
spaces open for everyone.    

The Success
in Figures

Owing to its sustained efforts, Ruta N has
made a sizeable impact in the context of Medellin and Colombia. One of the most
prominent achievements includes creating over 3000 new jobs since its inception
due to having welcomed over 150 local and international businesses in its
premises.  For a country that grappled
with record high unemployment rates in the first decade of 2000s, this
achievement has been of particular importance for the economy of Colombia. The
centre has made a major impact in the aspects of social mobility and poverty
reduction as well, as over 7000 underprivileged children have befitted from the
services offered by the centre in the area of STEM training.  Ruta N has also linked global networks to the
ecosystem that have facilitated the connection of 16 funds and establishment of
20 investment mechanisms for the launch of new innovative enterprises in
Medellin and attracted 3 business development centres (Atom House4,
Biointrop-ic5 and Endeavor6) to scale up start-ups in specific markets.

With a diverse palette of offerings and
activities, with numerous success stories under its belt, Ruta N is on a good
track to transform Medellin into a global innovation centre and enhance the
quality of life of its “Paisas[1]”.

Would you like to learn more about the Ruta N
and its approach to entrepreneurship, education and technology? Please find the
original case study report here.

©all rights on images used in this article
belong to RutaN.

[1] Paisa – a person coming
from a region in the northwest of Colombia.

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