2014 Medellin Blog: Becoming a Startup Hub
Through initiatives to attract and produce digital companies, the city government wants to make Medellin a Latin American Silicon Valley.
Medellin has emerged as a global center for innovation, and one way it accomplished this turnaround was by attracting startups and tech companies. From technology centers to training, the government aims to make Medellin a Latin American Silicon Valley.
Ruta N serves as the heart of the city’s tech community. A technology complex funded by the city government, it opened in 2011 and targets both foreign enterprises and Colombian businesses with international ties that want to operate in Medellin. The center provides office space, internet, electricity, tax breaks, and affordable rent. Currently, 32 companies and over 800 employees operate in the complex. Ruta N also has an accelerator program and a seed capital fund for startups. It also provides training and education for startups; in April, it launched Startups Academy, the first education program in Colombia for digital entrepreneurs. Ruta N hosts the city’s annual Startup Weekend, when entrepreneurs present their companies with the hopes of getting funding.
But tech companies are also taking root beyond Ruta N. A number of co-working spaces developed, like Espacio, which provides mentorship and support for entrepreneurs. Creame, for example, serves as both as a co-working space and an incubator for startups. Plus, Parque E—a co-venture between the city and the University of Antioquia—incubates startup companies across different sectors, including information technology.
The city government wants not only wants to encourage potential digital entrepreneurs, but to create a new generation of them. Medellin now has programming marathons for youth and a “software greenhouse” to give free programming training to teens.
“We’re not innovating for innovation’s sake,” Medellin Mayor Aníbal Gaviria told the Telegraph. “We’re not talking about exploring the sea bed or going to Antarctica. We’re using technology to attract business and create jobs, and thus to improve the lives of the people who live here.” The mayor said Medellin invests 0.4 percent of the city’s budget in IT—more than any other city in Colombia.