For Colombia to strengthen its economic development through innovation, it should focus on innovation in education and human resource policies.
The idea of development varies from one country to the other and its foundations are based on a country’s long-term directions, needs and resources. Indeed, natural resources are becoming very limited nowadays but we cannot deny the most important factor and that is the human resources. The term development in the 21st century can be defined as a continuous inclining process that contains innovation as its core element. Innovation is strongly related to talented human resources and can be defined as transforming an existing idea into a creative product, service or process that generates change and fulfills desired needs.
Colombia’s innovation status
Innovation started to exist in Colombia in order to support the stability of the whole country development process. The question is what initiatives have been taken by the Colombian government to implement innovation?
According to OECD science, technology and industry report (2010), the Colombian government identified innovation as one of the five drivers of future economic growth and social development. The report also stated that the National Planning Department together with the innovation agency Colciencias formulated an ambitious STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) strategy presented in the sectoral strategic plan within the framework of the National Development Plan 2010-14: “Prosperity for all.”
The report also concluded that innovation agencies such as Colciencias in Colombia focus on increasing the number of highly qualified human resources in priority areas, achieving a higher percentage of full-time teachers in universities and strengthening regional scientific and technological capabilities. In addition, the report mentioned that regional capabilities particularly concerns higher education institutions, which have received over $4 million in recent years form the Education Ministry in order to strengthen their master’s and doctoral programs.
Innovation is mostly utilized by entrepreneurs in nowadays global economies and they are becoming the main pillar of communities who generate innovation and sustain the knowledge-based economy. The report by OECD also stated that Colombia has programs to provide equity financing and venture capital investments ($53 million in 2011) such as the Emprender fund which provides access to seed capital for innovative entrepreneurs and Fontic-Colciencias which promotes and funds STI programs in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. ICT is the fourth pillar of a knowledge-based economy.
According to the Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum (2013-14), Colombia ranks 74 out of 148 countries in terms of innovation. In addition, the country ranks 83 out of 148 in terms of capacity for innovation and ranks 53 out of 148 countries in terms of university-industry collaboration in R&D.
Entrepreneurship and innovation are clearly playing an important role in the Colombian economic and social development plan but the main question is: will entrepreneurship and current innovation practices continue on carrying the burden of developing the Colombian economy? There is always a saturation point to every process. Therefore, the Colombian government will either choose to sustain their customized process of development or execute new development practices.
The new type of innovation that Colombia and its government should start focusing on including the entrepreneurial innovation is Education Innovation.
The 22nd century strategy and its implementation in Colombia
I propose the 22nd century strategy for Colombia continuous effort to take its economic and social development plan into the next level. I defined the 22nd century strategy as “to develop and enhance communities through creativity and innovation in knowledge and education”.
Additionally, I categorized the 22nd century strategy into four pillars, they are: goal, segment, skills and process. The goal of the strategy is to depend on academic innovation rather than only entrepreneurial innovation in Colombia. The targeted segment of the 22nd century strategy is university students in Colombia. These students are from different levels, field of study and universities.
The skill that needs to be developed within university students in Colombia in the 22nd century strategy is the community development skill and it is divided into three components, they are: innovation, creativity and macro-strategic thinking skills.
Finally, the process to implement this strategy involves two significant stages: the first stage is to increase in transparency between university students and the Colombian government economic and social development activities. The second stage is to create an economic/social development department within the body of Colombian universities that link only university students’ innovation, creativity, macro-strategic thinking and knowledge creation skills with community development process established by the Colombian government. The department will be managed and run by university students but supervised and mentored by Colombian government representative and officials in order to share the Colombian government development plan to the department and keep tasks consistent.
The benefits of the 22nd century strategy in Colombia
The Colombian government is trying to accomplish the pillars of the knowledge-based economy which are: Education and training, information infrastructure, economic incentive and institutional regime and innovation system. Implementing the 22nd century strategy will speed up the process of developing the Colombian community. Having dedicated economic/social departments within Colombian universities and blending the Colombian community development plan with the community development skills seized by university students will unleash a generation of think tanks and a culture of innovation in Colombia. Moreover, university students will not limit themselves to try to gain job skills but they will have the skills to actually develop the whole country at a very young age. Furthermore, the 22nd strategy as a new development practice will fulfill the four pillars of the knowledge-based economy and the economic/social department within Colombian universities will become a bridge between university students and the government; this will generate effective teamwork between the government and students.
Indeed it’s about the quality of education in Colombia that can support the development process but it’s more importantly about the utilization of the acquired knowledge by Colombian university students in developing the community. In the end, we can live the positive predictions of the 22nd century in the 21st century.