On March 24, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) launched its first innovation hub in South America, the Medellín Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. Following in the footsteps of other EI2 locations in Panama, Singapore, and China, the Medellín Center will act as an incubator for the local and regional innovation ecosystem.
The Center is dedicated to building collaboration across sectors, including nonprofits, universities, startups, and corporations, and aims to bring greater awareness to entrepreneurs as an integral part of the local economy. Maria Bibiana, president of the Medellín-based business services organization proAntiquia, said it will help the city, the country, and the region tackle challenges such as food safety and environmental protection by facilitating “the transfer of knowledge and good practices to our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Luis Fernando Restrepo Echavarría, IMGT 1979, a Georgia Tech Advisory Board member and CEO of Crystal, a company dedicated to producing and commercializing brands in Latin America, championed Medellín, Colombia, as the site of the new center. The city’s economic recovery over the last couple of decades gives it great potential as a driver of enterprise, especially with startups that are rapidly scaling. The launch of the Innovation Center, Restrepo said, presents an opportunity to “elevate the city and the country.” A board member of the financial institution Bancolombia, Restrepo worked with Georgia Tech, the Medellín Chamber of Commerce, local and regional businesses, and four Medellín universities to secure funding for the Center.
To address immediate factors that limit the local enterprise, the Center will host events, deliver courses, and provide training programs tailored to boost opportunity and broaden the community of entrepreneurs. María Paula Rios, vice president of innovative and digital transformation with Alianza Team, a Colombian-based organization promoting food solutions, said, “Working with Georgia Tech can provide collaboration and networking opportunities between startups, researchers, and large companies, promoting growth for Colombia’s innovation ecosystem.”
The Center represents an important and energizing development for Colombia and the global economy, creating what Cipriano López, vice president of innovation and sustainability for Bancolombia, called “a platform of competitiveness for the city, for the region, and for the country.”
Restrepo sees tremendous promise in the collaboration between Medellín’s universities, local government, businesses, and Georgia Tech — which “has a huge platform” with “major innovation programs and data analysis” that will help drive innovation and entrepreneurship. “Georgia Tech and the new Medellín Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center are going to have a big impact.”