Colombian tech incubator Ruta N hopes to grow Chinese companies in South America

World Today

Colombia’s President Ivan Duque visited China earlier this year to strengthen economic and bilateral ties as the two countries approach their 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations early next year.

To help build closer ties with China and other countries, the Colombian technology and innovation incubator, Ruta N, is helping transform the city of Medellin into a global technology hub.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

As the base for one of the world’s most feared drug cartels, Medellin was once dubbed “the most dangerous city on earth.”

Now, it’s well on its way to becoming the Silicon Valley of Latin America. Tech incubator Ruta N is a product of those efforts. It’s connecting Colombian startups with investors from around the world.

“If you don’t know you will be afraid, and if you are afraid then you won’t do it. So, we are structuring a program especially for Medellin and Colombian companies that want to explore the Chinese market in some expert’s hands, so that they don’t do it alone,” Sin Kit I from the Centre of Business and Innovation of Ruta N said.

Ruta N has invited companies from around the world to open offices in Medellin. So far, around 320 companies from more than 30 countries have come to the city, creating more than 8,000 jobs in the area since 2012.

And, as China-based companies such as Huawei, Tuya Smart and Didi grow their businesses in Colombia, Ruta N hopes Medellin’s appeal as a tech hub will catch on.

“Latin America itself is virgin for many Chinese technological companies. There are so many things to do, here Colombian business people cannot do alone, or the industry or the government. That is why we need to have this base exchange,” Sin Kit said.

In 2019, President Ivan Duque boosted that effort. He announced Medellin would become the first Spanish-speaking country to host an affiliate Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network.

The network is an idea conceived by the World Economic Forum. Participants hope to foster collaboration and develop policies to accelerate the benefits of science and technology.

While headquartered in San Francisco, Medellin will join a network of tech hubs in Beijing, Tokyo and Mumbai.

“It is a network, we learn from each other. We do benchmark and we have exchange of our public policy; it isn’t just that we invent something, but learn from each other,” Sin Kit said.

And Colombia is looking to increase exchanges with nations like China. During Colombian President Ivan Duque’s visit to China in his first year in office, 15 agreements were signed between the two countries. One of them included the promotion of technology and entrepreneurship between Colombia and China.

“I think Colombia has a lot to learn from China, and obviously the other way around because if there is no mutual understanding, we don’t know each other there is no action. So, this kind of exchange in terms of technology and innovation. What do you have? What do we have? Is a first step,” Sin Kit said.