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Medellín, World Innovation Hub

22 de Marzo de 2017

Medellín, World Innovation Hub

In its process of economic transformation, some years ago our city had a north in mind: to become the best platform for business development in Latin America, by strengthening an ecosystem of innovation from the standpoint of science and technology. We strove to make our companies more innovative and also to improve the attraction to Medellin from anywhere in the world, thus contributing to the increased well-being of our society.

On the last 23rd of February, in the oldest and most reputable index of innovative cities in the world, produced by the innovation 2ThinkNow of Australia, our city achieved a first for a Colombian city: the category of global hub of innovation. We had been working towards that goal since 2011 and now, that achievement places the city on the highest category of any city in Latin America, along with many other cities around the world which are global powers on this issue.

“This recognition is important and fills us with pride because we can visualize Medellin as a vibrant innovation ecosystem. It also enables us to mobilize and attract talent and capital, essential ingredients for its development,” says Alejandro Franco, executive director of Ruta N.


The Innovation Cities Global Index, published by 2ThinkNow, analyses 165 variables for each one of the 500 most innovative cities on five continents, and in accordance to the verified results, gives a score to each of 0-60. This permits cities to be placed in five different categories in terms of their ability to innovate. London leads the ranking and category of nexus cities, the most advanced in innovation. The place reached by Medellin places it just below that group. Next there are three other categories: node, influencer, and upstart.

This classification measures not only the capabilities of the innovation system of each city but also its intrinsic capabilities, such as cost and quality of housing, security level, activities and quality of cultural assets, capabilities of their economic markets and of power, size of foreign investment, export value, size of the economy, the number of embassies and consulates located in the city, besides its logistics and mobility capabilities, among others.

Medellin is being compared to capital cities of their countries or to cities that exceed it several times in size, which further illustrates this result, since this has been achieved from the enormous growth of its innovation ecosystem. However, it is also an acknowledgment of everything the city does.


Since 2012, our city sought to use a specialized index of cities for an external and objective verification of its progress in these areas.

According to the methodology, the hub cities are challenging territories, centers of innovation, and axes with influence on key economic and social sectors.

The main objective of the Innovation Cities Global Index / Index of innovative cities is to supply any organization, company or capital fund, with an assessment of what cities in the world are the most appropriate for their next investment, development of their next phase of business, installation of a new international office, or even for a person to decide what city is best to transfer his residence.

So, what good does it do Medellin to be recognized as a global hub of innovation? “It is a huge achievement that will have a significant impact on the attraction of the world to Medellin, but at the same time it can confirm to the inhabitants of our society that the advanced innovation to date is quite real, and that it is worth it to continue along this path of collective construction, in order for all of this to translate into an improved quality of life for the inhabitants of the city", adds Alejandro Franco.


Our goal now is that in a few years Medellin will achieve the status of becoming a nexus city in innovation. “That will take us several years, but our people have accomplished many wonderful and unexpected things in the past and we are confident that we can do it again,” says Elkin Echeverri, director of planning and foresight of Ruta N, and adds that for “those who have not yet joined this goal, now is the time to do it. It is better to be part of the solution than to remain part of the problem; our ability to work together to meet a goal will again take us to build a much better society,” he concludes.


By Alejandro Franco, executive director of Ruta N

"Coming from Ruta N, one of the goals we set for the city, and which is an obligation of our strategic map, was to get Medellin recognized as a worldwide hub of innovation. Today we can say, We did it! But this result is not only due to the Municipal Administration or the actors of our innovation ecosystem, but to a collective construction. The 2ThinkNow index measures several variables, ranging from economic issues to cultural aspects, from infrastructure and links to innovation.

The truth is that Medellin is, at this point, one of the most attractive places to do business on the continent. This is reflected in this ranking but at the same time, other achievements measured by other independent methods confirm it; according to the regional survey of annual innovation conducted by the National Consulting Center, more than half of the companies in the city are bringing innovations to the market and creating jobs as a result. In just four years 154 companies from 23 countries have located to the District of Innovation of Medellin, generating more than 2,700 direct new jobs.

Because of this international announcement, without a doubt many more companies, startups and entrepreneurs will see in Medellin their platform for growth in Latin America and the world."

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