Colombia wants to unite scientific research and businesses

On March 30th, the senator Mauricio Aguilar discussed on a public hearing the importance of “Spin-off Colombia,” a bill that promotes the transference of knowledge and research from higher education institutions to businesses. Since the bill will have a clear positive impact on innovation in businesses, dozens of directors of public institutions and companies attended the hearing. And, according to senator Aguilar, it had a positive reception. The hearing, aside from showcasing the support for the bill, helped to polish the last elements of “Spin-off Colombia”.

Despite the lack of coverage in national media, should we pay more attention to this bull? Why? Will it have an impact on Colombian economy?

First, we do need to pay attention to this bill. It’s no surprise to say that Colombian economy, despite its current stability, lacks innovation. We’re not talking about start-ups and apps; Colombia has its fair share of successful apps –mostly in the service sector–. We’re talking about groundbreaking research trickling down to consumers through national businesses. While the U.S. has had, for years, an interesting relation between higher education and companies, Colombia –we could even say Latin America– refuses to forge this link. For the last couple of years, the route that any research has gone into the market is through young and independent entrepreneurs. This bill will attempt to change that.

The “Spin-off Colombia” bill, if applied properly, will introduce a work route that follows and supports higher education projects –from researchers and teachers– until they are in the real market. This way, public and private universities will be able to associate with the private sector without affecting either side. And both will receive financial benefits from the academic efforts. It all looks rather promising. However, as explained by senator Aguilar, the challenge is in “making the educational institutions interested on the subject and create the mechanisms to increase the number of projects”.

Currently, Colombian economy still depends on extraction –agriculture and mining– and traditional manufacturing. The “Spin-off” bill could strengthen industries that have grown in the last ten years and make Colombia’s economy more stable, diverse and attractive to foreign investment.

Given the positive reception in the public hearing, it’s expected that the bill will pass without problems. If it does –which is highly likely–, Colombia could be on the verge of creating its own Silicon Valley. Evidently, the bill has to avoid the dangers that Colombian public projects tend to have: misuse of resources and bureaucratic delays.

LatinAmerican Post | Juan Sebastián Torres

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