How does T2VC help catalyze regional innovation?
Emerging from years of unrest, the nation of Colombia was determined to “win the peace.” However, leaders in Colombia needed new tools for the modern knowledge economy. They realized that their past economic development strategies—focusing on assets and infrastructure alone—were not sufficient. Colombia chartered a series of efforts to catalyze innovation and growth among industry, academia, government, and entrepreneurs. But there was no clear model on how to they should structure, organize, and manage such efforts. Francisco Manrique was named Chairman of one such effort in Bogotá—Alianza Universidad-Empresa-Estado (University-Enterprise-State Alliance)—and he decided to tackle this challenge head on.
The Alianza hired the T2VC team to help guide their efforts. Since our team understands that each region has its special assets and unique destiny, we do not impose a one-size-fits-all recipe. Instead, we spent significant time with key stakeholders throughout Colombia, to understand its special characteristics, culture, and people. Based on what we learned, we delivered a series of tailored training workshops for the leaders of this organization, which took place in both Colombia and the United States. We organized “train-the-trainers” entrepreneurial coaching sessions for the broader innovation community in Colombia, through a series of panels and live simulation activities. And we provided high-level education for public and private sector leaders through public speeches and private meetings.
Two organizations were born from these efforts: Connect Bogotá Region and the Red Alianza Bogotá Region (Alliance Network). Connect Bogotá is a nonprofit corporation focused on accelerating innovation-based economic growth based on science and technology. It is now regarded as one of the most successful programs in Colombia that links entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed in the market. The Alliance Network launched with eleven participating universities, the Mayor of Bogotá, Cundinamarca, and Capital City Enterprises. It created a technology platform that has fostered valuable connections between research groups at member universities and companies seeking applied research and breakthrough technology products. In its first effort alone, it had117 research groups and 143 companies that together generated 644 business appointments.