Medellín una ciudad para todos

Medellín, a city for everyone

Medellín has become a success story by overcoming challenges of uncontrolled urban expansion and years of violence due to social inequalities. Its transformation is remarkable: in just two decades it went from one of the most violent cities in the world to position itself as a model of urban innovation. Through bold leadership, long-term plans and social innovation, city mayors have addressed problems and improved the economy, employability and quality of life of their citizens.

With limited resources, Medellín devised alternative but sustainable means to finance its urban development, while implementing catalytic projects in strategic areas to achieve the greatest impact for its people. Projects focused on controlling the expansion of the city, improving the conditions of existing settlements, generating new public spaces and promoting the generation of jobs and education with a new multi modal transport infrastructure, have been developed, always caring for the environment, and for social sustainability.

In an increasingly urbanized and complex world, social integration has become a great challenge for many cities. Medellín seems to have found the key through social innovation. The city seeks to empower each member of society and give them a role within the city.  And, in this process, the city won the trust of all citizens. For example, with the “Buen Comienzo” (Good Start) program, which focuses on early childhood education, it clearly articulates the commitment to invest in the future.

Prioritizing the needs of its citizens, Medellín proactively instills a culture of open dialogue and cooperation between government, private entities and individuals. A clear example is the management of Proantioquia and the Committee University Enterprise Government (CUEE, for its acronym in Spanish), which works together to formulate policies and execute initiatives based on the principles of social responsibility and equity.

By transforming underutilized sites into multipurpose spaces, a sustainable approach to urban development is given which, in turn, strengthens the identity of communities.

Although ecological sensitivity is undoubtedly important, interventions whose priorities were the needs of people and which focused on improving their quality of life also have great relevance in Medellín; there are unconventional transport systems, such as the Metrocable, which connects the outskirts of the mountains with the city’s downtown district. This is the result of a participatory society that gathers to formulate and implement long-term plans, thus contributing to the progress
of Medellín.

The enthusiasm and positive spirit of the inhabitants of Medellín are palpable and

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Medellín segura gracias a la inteligencia artificial

Medellín, Safe Thanks to AI

When we  talk about security, we should go beyond the capacity of manpower strength, and, in this sense, technology is key for large-scale advancement. What is most important for the city in terms of security, regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is the development of a system allowing for the detection of crimes and the identification of individuals in real time.

The implementation of technology has become key to the advancement in the detection of crime and the identification of individuals in real time. This directly impacts in the reduction of crimes, improves our citizen protection and keeps a city in line with legality.

Today, the city of Medellín has an Integrated Security System (SIESM, for its acronym in Spanish) managed by the Secretariat of Security and Coexistence, which links the Police, the Health Secretariat, the Secretariat of Social Inclusion, the Department of Risks, the Secretariat of Mobility and Firefighters, in what is known as
the 123 emergency line.

In addition, the Secretariat of Security and Coexistence has an information system which takes the collected 123data and, through a database, crosses the information to detect the most critical points in terms of crimes, and makes decisions. For example, in the case of theft, it identifies times and days of the year in which the largest amounts of thefts are committed and implements strategies to prevent them. All this is based on the information permanently provided by the system.

Likewise, through the Integrated Security System, data is registered to be accessible to the District Attorney, Police and Armed Forces, and the Secretariat of Security and Coexistence, for the purpose of building software-based articulation procedures for the unification of tools available to the city: security cameras, license plate identification system and satellite location of vehicles.

Previously, the dispatch system was totally manual. If an incident took place, one had to verify if the police was available, making the process inefficient. Today everything has changed; the city became aware that the installation of technology per se is not an answer, but the good maintenance, adequate use and how to
interconnect them is essential.

«City leaders have understood that security problems need to be faced from the perspective of rebuilding the social fabric in order to mobilize those with lesser opportunities.»

Philip Karp, Lead Knowledge Management Officer, World Bank


Medellin Segura
The use of drones, cameras and other technologies have enabled crime reduction in the city.


Hexagon, the Intelligent and Efficient System

This system completely changed Medellín’s dynamics. When an incident occurs, it is filtered by the recognition software and communicates it to the closest police station, which enables knowing where these patrols, mobility agents and firefighters
(in case of fire) are located.

In addition, Medellín is the only city in Colombia that has implemented LP technology for the recognition of license plates. It has a system of PTZ cameras which records in HD and are currently at work at 100%, making it possible to know where the criminals are moving, including detaining of stolen vehicles or identifying those involved in a criminal investigation.

Cameras were installed in the most important security points. These have a software which recognizes license plates and saves the information of all moving vehicles within the zone for up to five years. Today, 4.5 million tags go through LPR cameras daily, which also allows for the generation
of intelligence and investigation reports.

This camera system works with Artificial Intelligence (AI). They are arc type tag recognition cameras, which captures and recognizes characters, representing a fundamental change in speed, as well as, the opportunity and accuracy with which the information is gathered. When someone commits a crime and goes through the cameras, a report is created in order to detain, identify and bring the delinquent to justice.

We have an Integrated Security System (SIESM, for its acronym in Spanish) in Medellín. This system links the Police, the Secretariat of Health, the Secretariat of Social Inclusion, the Department of Risks, the Secretariat of Mobility and the Fire Department in what is known as the 123 Emergency Line


We work in alliance with the Police, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Armed Forces so that our citizens are able to live in a safe city.

Medellín is leading in cutting edge technology applied to security with the most advance integrated system in the world.


Technology for a safer city

1,644 cameras —bodycams— are available at 440 Police quadrants to strengthen surveillance in the city, with an investment of COP 9,512 million. Medellín is the first city in Colombia to have this technology applied to security.

300 cameras for license plate recognition – of those involved in criminal acts, with an investment of COP 20,168 million.

2,400 cameras integrating CCTV video for the surveillance of the city, with an increase in coverage of 84%.

148 full 360° cameras with four-lens multi-sensors which allow for complete coverage of the area of a specific sector.

170 video cameras for the detection and identification of visitors of the Atanasio Girardot Stadium.

BELL 407 Public Safety & Utility Police Helicopter enabled with day and night vision, transmitting video to the SIES-M headquarters, megaphone speaker system and searching and tracing light.

COP 26,800 million invested in the Automatic Dispatch System and COP 2,500 million in civil society job opportunities to support the 123 Emergency Line. Twenty-four (24) stations, 60 entrance lines and 49 reception computers for the Avaya telephone system for emergency attention, which enables timely the assistance of citizens.

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Medellín le apuesta a la revolución del talento

Medellín: committed to the talent revolution

Medellín today is a world leader in innovation. We have taken unprecedented steps in the region and, consequently, the world looks towards these mountains that decorate a city which is beating with the new, the different, the transformation,
to the constant improvement of the quality of life of its inhabitants. A city that delivers value with disruptive and dynamic projects in favor of development and competitiveness.

The Latin American region needed to have a technological epicenter surrounded by an adequate ecosystem which was prepared to host the fifth Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR). This Center will join the others located in San Francisco, Tokyo, Beijing and Mumbai to lead the role and serve as a space for the design, testing and refinement of policy and regulatory frameworks for the new 4.0 technologies. In turn, this will positively impact all economic sectors, taking advantage of the potential of millions of people interconnected through mobile devices now having storage, processing and access to unlimited knowledge capacities.

Thus, the World Economic Forum chose Medellín for this important challenge of hosting the C4IR because it is recognized as one of the most innovative cities in Latin America, backed by a strong industrial, educational and entrepreneurial fabric that, thanks to the institutionality of the Committee University Enterprise Government (CUEE, for its acronym in Spanish), Ruta N and Sapiencia, has achieved the goal of transforming traditional economies into knowledge-based economies.

At present, the capital of Antioquia is home to 6 of the 10 Colombian companies with the highest market value and, in digital matters, more than 37 communities exclusively based on 4.0 technologies, coexist and cooperate in the city, such as Blockchain, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Smart Cities.

According to the IT Observatory 2017, up to that year the tech sector in Antioquia had generated 14,237 new jobs, 74% of them in the Metropolitan Area of ​​the Aburrá Valley. Medellín has a tech sector made up of 2,013 companies, 48% of them software developers. These are notable figures as a result of public and private partnerships, aimed at the same goal: sustained and competitive development.

Likewise, the educational sector, as a catalyst for development and the main generator of human talent, has managed to consolidate, locally, with the presence of 37 of the 50 institutions of higher education in the department, four of them included in Latam’s top 100. Foreign companies located in the city recognize in Medellín a conducive environment in the search for qualified talent tailored at 4.0 technologies, a valued and well-paid benefit with high-quality jobs.

As an articulating entity, ACI Medellín will continue to focus its efforts towards the attraction of capital and national and foreign cooperation. The Agency will further serve as a bridge to accelerate company landing and market opening processes with the intention that these actors boost our economy. Additionally, they shall also find in Medellín a profitable environment, well trained and adapted to global trends in technologies eager for public policies, a city that will accompany and advise other cities of Colombia and neighboring countries, so that together we achieve a favorable implementation of the new industrial revolution that is already a reality.

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A Plan to Transform the Future

There is a combination of partnerships, technical knowledge and policies that are being developed to meet the SDGs and not leave anyone behind. An urgent and ambitious agenda.

The plan to put the world on the path to a more prosperous and sustainable development for all has been a vision shared by 156 countries that has involved the implementation of national and local action plans, the commitment of companies, media, academy and civil society.

The agenda, which focuses on achieving fair, equitable and inclusive territory, hopes to eradicate extreme poverty, put an end to all forms of malnutrition and discrimination against women and girls, guarantee universal access to energy services and significantly reduce all forms of violence, among other 169 goals within the 17 SDGs.

Progress has been made thanks to the joint efforts of governments and their alliances. For example, by 2018 labor productivity increased and more than a hundred countries have sustainable consumption and production policies and initiatives. However, there is still more work to be done to close the gap and address issues such as the risk of youth unemployment, pollution in cities and continue to maintain timely responses to issues such as armed conflicts, climate change and inequalities.

For António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, “only twelve years away from the 2030 goal, we must promote the notion of urgency. Meeting the agenda requires immediate and accelerated actions by countries, as well as collaborative partnerships between governments and stakeholders at all levels.”

Some of the initiatives that have been taken in this regard are the creation of the Mainstreaming Acceleration Policy Support, MAPS, an agile and common approach that is sustained in the mainstreaming, acceleration and support for policies, and the creation of the SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean CODS, by its acronym in Spanish, the first in the region located in Colombia, with the support of universities from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

“By investing in the SDGs, we invest in the future, ensuring a world in which we strive for peace, stability and prosperity; we pledge that no one will be left behind.”

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The urgent call is for all civil society to embrace this agenda of sustainable development as a way and an opportunity to make any corner of the world a better place to live.

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The Power of the C40 Cities

Medellín is part of a select group of cities which work together to mitigate risks associated to climate change. This decision implies the execution of a wide portfolio of programs that will impact
the life quality of people.

According to UN data, each decade brings with it a loss of Arctic ice above 1.07 square kilometers. The average sea level rose 19 centimeters between 1901 and 2010 and, since 1970, the amount of natural disasters has quadrupled to around 400 per year.

These numbers, more than irreversible alarms, have become a motivation and work engine for many countries looking to take urgent measures that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

San Francisco in the United States, for example, expects to reach zero waste in 2020. London in the United Kingdom has reduced the number of vehicles in the business district, and Sydney in Australia, plans for all its inhabitants to be at a 250 meter distance, a walk away, from a green park.

For its articulated and integrated work on behalf of the environment, Medellín was chosen as the vice president city of the Steering Committee of C40. Additionally, Medellín represents Latin America, along with Santiago de Chile and Quito.

Medellín has decided to follow the example of the great capitals in several actions. The first and fundamental was to incorporate the environment as a banner topic in its 2016-2019 Development Plan. This, then, becomes a government commitment, associated to indicators and specific activities.

In addition, since 2016, the city has joined the league of territories that lead the path to a healthier, more sustainable future: C40. This action connects professionals, creates relationships of trust among countries, and encourages, freely and sensibly, ideas, solutions and lessons that make the collective jobs of all member cities stronger. Today, there are more than 10,000 executed actions by 96 cities.

A Planet-Friendly City

On a wager for environmental improvement, Medellín has taken on several commitments. One is to take inventory of greenhouse gasses under the guidelines of the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission (GPC) and sign three agreements: Deadline 2020, a guide for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the declaration of streets free of fossil fuels, and lastly, to reach equal distribution among the population of environmental, social and economic benefits generated from the executed environmental actions.

Corrededores verdes en Medellín
Avenida Oriental, a commitmentt for sustainability and green areas to improve air quality.

Likewise, the city has proposed the consolidation of an environmental network made up of 30 Green Corridors that connect roads, ravines, hills and parks, with benefits, such as the improvement of air quality and the reduction or noise and temperature levels. The city has also proposed providing 35 eco-stations in operation in the Aburrá Valley, having more than 200 electric vehicles, operating the EnCicla system, which provides more that 65,000 daily trips on bicycles and working on a pilot program that will supply 1,500 electric cabs through concerted payment and of high social impact.

Other parallel actions are having the greenhouse gasses effect inventory that identifies which sectors emit the highest tons of CO2, developing a management plan to face climate change, signing of the Medellín Air Quality Pact with 83 companies that have committed themselves to taking actions that will aid in the reduction of polluting gas emissions, and advancing in the renovation of pubic transport, with Euro 5 technology busses.

Thanks to these actions, lead by the Secretariat of Environment, with the participation and contribution of private companies, educational institutions and other municipal secretariats, such as Mobility, Infrastructure and Planning, Medellín goes forward in environmental sustainability. The governmental foundations have been set as well as greater consciousness by citizens so that the city continue on the route of growth and sustainable expansion.

A Call to the World from the Region

During the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) and the meeting of the Steering Committee of C40 held in San Francisco, United States, in September, city mayor Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga, presented environmental advances in Medellín.

During the event, the local leader highlighted the signing of the air quality pact that engages 83 public and private partners, in addition to the C40 Network, which contains 446 commitments with goals by 2030.

For the Mayor, “taking action regarding climate change is no longer an option. We can have political and cultural differences but we share the love for our cities and our people. I know, furthermore, that we have the conviction of leaving our children a kinder world in all aspects.”

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What is the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

It is a space of trust and knowledge exchange for global cooperation. Also, it will be the perfect for the discussion about the latest trends and its technological applications, and the regulatory frameworks for different industries and countries in terms of: artificial intelligence, blockchain , the Internet of things, machine learning, Big Data , nanotechnology, and the impacts of this revolution on the lives of people and governments.

The speed of these developments taking place in this field and the blurred borders between the sectors due to the use of information technologies are the main reasons for the creation of the Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, whose mission is to ensure that the benefits of the current era impact all of humanity.

Location of the other Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the world

Between 2017 and 2018, four Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution were created

Centros para la cuarta revolución industrial

How can a city benefit from hosting a Center for the Fourth Revolution?

The cities chosen to host the Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution have important characteristics in common: investment in science, technology and innovation; a significant and effective relation between the public, private sector and academia; the ability to provide qualified human talent on technological issues and bets from their governments to leverage the industry with the technological advances of the fourth revolution.

These installed capacities plus those generated around the establishment of the Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring a series of benefits and development processes that impact the quality of life of the host cities’ inhabitants. The industry benefits directly from the incorporation of technological advances, the stimulation of formal employment, the systematization of its innovations and the generation of synergies among the entities that participate in this Center.

In addition, action frameworks will be created to attract and create high added-value businesses for cities which impact on its competitiveness and positioning. Thus, attracting capital and human talent.

Inteligencia artificial
Ruta N will host the Latin American Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Participation of ACI Medellín

The commitment to the internationalization of the city led by ACI Medellín has a key role in the articulation of the entities participating in a high-impact project such as the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The commitment of all the stakeholders who worked together to achieve the election of the city is ratified with this appointment. The Medellín Mayor’s Office, Ruta N, ACI Medellín, Procolombia, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and the World Economic Forum have the responsibility of impacting the development of Latin America from Medellín, and to generate an exponential economic growth which generates equity and opportunities for people.

In addition, ACI Medellín is strengthened by the knowledge management arising from this Center and hopes that the city learns from it and continue the exchange of best practices.

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Medellín is comitted to Sustainable Energy

Converting trash into clean energy? This is what the project by the British company, Exergy, is betting on and proposed for Medellín. Thanks to ACI Medellín, the European company is working for the environmental preservation of the city and the planet.

Close to 3,100 tons of garbage from all over the Aburrá Valley and the 23 other communities in Antioquia come to La Pradera landfill daily. Everything that is thrown out at home ends up in this 382 hectare dump in the municipality of Don Matías in the northern region of Antioquia.

Although the service life of this landfill, which began operations in 2003, was calculated for 50 years, the accelerated overload of materials foresees a more rapid fill-up. In this context Exergy proposed a solution in tune with the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically with Responsible Production and Consumption.

How about harnessing solid residues as an energy and thermal sources, reducing part of the 90,000 tons of residues generated per month and reduction of the operations cost of the landfill by COP2,500 million?

More than COP$49,000 million, annually, could be saved in Medellín with the implementation of Waste2Energy.

This proposal was introduced in the city through an innovative technology named Waste2Energy from Exergy, in association with the Cidet – Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico para el Sector Energético (Center for Technological Research and Development for the Energy Sector) and EIA University.

Exergy’s arrival was supported by ACI Medellín and Ruta N, wherefrom communication with the foreign company was articulated and coordination ensued about conditions to advance in the necessary studies for the execution of the project.

Sustainable Energy

Exergy Limited has a total of almost seven years since its foundation and experience in R+D projects centered on sustainability. In addition to the main headquarters in Coventry, United Kingdom, the company has offices in Deft, Netherlands, Minneapolis, USA, and since 2016, in Medellín, thanks to a public finance call from the Prosperity Fund Colombia 2016.

“The company, because of its experience and capability, developed a pre-feasibility project in harnessing of solid urban residues in the Aburrá Valley and the appraisal of those residues,” explains Johann Carlos Ramirez, leader of the Energy Latin-America SAS Colombia Energy Line.

A territory to be explored

In many countries in the world, there is harnessing of residues for energy generation and to avoid high financial costs, as well as air quality affectation and the damage to rivers, due to the pouring of lixiviates. For example, while Sweden, Netherlands and Germany harness up to 90% of solid waste, in Colombia, 83% of garbage ends up in sanitary landfills.

The Method

The energy method Exergy implements is a concept which combines the optimal use of resources such as energy, water and other material, minimizing CO2 emissions, as well as emissions from other pollutants. In Twin Cities in Minnesota, a pilot test was run and proved that carbon emissions are reduced by 39% and water consumption is reduced 73% with this system.

“There is clear leadership in nordic countries as Sweden, Finland, Norway and Germany, with strong incentives from the governments so that there be effective recycling for the generation of energy, production of biofuels or chemical biocomponents from urban solid waste,” declared Fernando Centeno, Innovation leader at Exergy.

More than 15% of residues that end up in La Pradera Landfill are made of recyclable material.

These figures led Exergy to propose the Waste2Energy project and the process began with a technical analysis to project the cost of investment and the optimal location of the plant. Between two choices, Bello and Barbosa, the best choice was the first for the construction of a recycling plant, incineration and harnessing of sub products connected to the EPM Waste Water Treatment Plant, from where electric and thermal energy could be generated, in addition to sub-products that could be used in the construction industry.

“Of eight possible business models, this was the most appropriate, since, in addition to the technical aspect, appraisal was made of the reduction of methane emissions to the atmosphere, as well as the mitigation of the environmental impact on water,” says Johann Ramírez.

The pre-feasibility study cost approximately COP$600 million and was covered by Exergy and presented to the government and city utility services companies.

Other Alternatives

Johann Carlos Ramírez Canedo, leader of the Power Line of Exergy Latin America SAS Colombia.

Although the implementation of Waste2Energy is being analyzed, for the second stage of the study an investment of COP$4,000 million is required. Exergy is in Ruta N looking for other possibilities in the local ecosystem to offer sustainable solutions to the region.

This is how they have visited different communities of east Antioquia and have found different local initiatives, among them in El Cármen de Viboral, where they opened a biogas plant at La Cimarrona sanitary landfill. Also, in El Santuario, they adapted a composting system with Proprietary technology.

Likewise, Exergy is investing in a blended-use building, residences and offices, stimulated by the stake of the Medellín Mayor’s Office in the urban renewal of the city center.

This building will be designed with a bioclimatic concept for the consumption of water and energy, sustainable construction, photovoltaic energy warming, motorcycle and electric bicycle charging station, and, of course, education in the treatment of residues, so as to separate from the source.

Thanks to the intervention of ACI Medellín as the link for the arrival of companies of this type and the complementary relationship with institutions, such as Ruta N, Exergy continues looking for business schemes that reduce the ecological footprint and promote planet sustainability.

“Approximately COP$860,000 millions are needed in Medellín to expand and build new landfills. Why not make better use
of these residues and financial resources to generate energy?”

Fernando Centeno, Innovation leader at Exergy.


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El tránsito hacia alternativas limpias

Medellín: Moving Towards Clean Alternatives

The city is advancing on the implementation of an environmentally friendlier, more modern, efficient and healthier transport system for all.

In her commute from her home in Belén La Palma, in southwest Medellín, to her office in El Poblado, Daniela Chavarría uses an electric bicycle. Sebastián Callejas, prefers traveling on the Metro every day from the Acevedo station, north of the city, to the Aguacatala station. Ana María Vargas uses the Ayacucho tram and the Metro.

Although each of these residents uses different transport means, Daniela, Sebastián and Ana María have something in common: they all easily arrive at their destinations, save time and money, and do not stress on traffic congestion. They also do their share in reducing emissions of polluting gases to the atmosphere, and thus contribute so that the air in Medellín is cleaner and of better quality, because these forms of transport are zero emissions, as are the metrocables of Santo Domingo (on the northeast), San Javier (on the west) and La Sierra (mid-eastern region).

These commuters also demonstrate the city’s progress in sustainability, its consolidation as a national benchmark and its work to be the future Latin America’s capital of electric mobility.

Tranvía de Ayacucho.
The Ayacucho Tram.

Decision and Commitment

Some of the projects that are under implementation to guarantee efficient and environmentally-friendly public transport systems for the people of the city are as follows:

  • Renewal of the entire bus fleet of vehicles that operate with low emission technologies, such as Euro IV, V and VI, natural gas or electricity. A reduction of 5.4 tons of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and 4.066 tons of CO2 is expected.
  • Thirty articulated buses and 47 standard buses of the Metroplus (BRT system), which run from the University of Medellín (southwest) to Aranjuez (northeast) and operate with natural gas. In addition, the system has a full electric-powered bus with a capacity for 160 passengers and a battery that allows 280 kilometers autonomy.
  • Development of a project, between the Secretary of Mobility and EPM, so that taxi companies can trade out vehicles that run on fossil fuels for electric ones. In the next three years there will be 1,500 electric cabs.
  • Twenty-five eco-stations or public ECS for electric cars distributed along different parts of the city and in the municipalities of Envigado, Sabaneta and Rionegro.
  • Construction of 80 kilometers of bike paths, encouraging the use of bicycles.

Key Actors

In order for Daniela and all citizens to enjoy clean transport alternatives, different agencies work jointly, including the Metropolitan Area, the Metro, the Olaya Herrera Airport and the Secretariats of Mobility, Environment and Infrastructure.

Especially, the Metropolitan Area leads two projects for air pollution reduction in the Aburrá Valley. These are the Pigeca (Comprehensive Air Pollution Management Plan, for its acronym in Spanish) and the Poeca (Operational Plan to Confront Critical Episodes of Atmospheric Pollution). Among its activities are the measurement of meteorological variables through 21 stations; control of automotive diagnostic centers and monitoring fixed sources. The plans will also promote an integrated low-emission transport system.

In addition to this, the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area -ACI Medellín- has played an important role in this transformation. According to Humberto Iglesias Gómez, Secretary of Mobility of Medellín, “it has allowed us to share spaces with other cities and countries that have advanced a lot in this area. We have gone to Germany, Sweden, France and South Korea where we learned about their experiences and they showed us opportunities for improvement.”

In fact, between Medellín and Paris there is an alliance to work together and exchange good practices. “They have taught us to improve, to know what we must do to prevent environmental deterioration and that people, regardless of their socioeconomic status, get out of their car and prefer public transport means,” says Iglesias.

Secretario de Movilidad de Medellín, Humberto Iglesias Gómez.
The Secretary of Mobility of Medellín, Humberto Iglesias Gómez.

These achievements are proof that Medellín is living a revolution to achieve a more modern, efficient, accessible, integrated and intelligent transportation system that contributes for the care of the Earth.

Así se movilizan los ciudadanos en Medellín


A Historical Investment

The Ministry of Territory and Infrastructure of South Korea will donate 12.5 million dollars to Medellín. This support will help the continuation of sustainable mobility development with clean energy; improvement of a traffic information control center and traffic light phases. The project will also include the implementation of regulated public parking lots and intelligent stops, in which users will know the bus routes, frequencies and estimated times of arrival at their destinations.

Movilidad eléctrica en Medellín
Electrical bus which reduces polluting particles and contributes to sustainable mobility.
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Inteligencia artificial

Artificial Intelligence, the Wave that Expands in Medellín

Medellín’s competitiveness is linked to innovation and technology. It is a commitment for quality work, opening to new markets and the generation of development.

When Alejandro Gómez saw the humanoid, Sophia, who interacts and holds conversations with people, in Medellín, he felt a wave in his head, a hunch that told him that in this city he had the ability to make an equally good robot, or an even better one.

The Sophia of his dreams could be at the reception of Ruta N, guide and register visitors, or better yet, at the José María Córdova International Airport to receive tourists. The robot would be able to carry out talks, ask travellers how their trips had been, explain to them where to take the transport, tell them the news of the day or what tourist sites they should visit.

A similar wave spread in Alejandro’s heart as a child and he met Savia Mente, the robot that taught about public utilities in the Interactive Museum of EPM. At that time, his dream of making robots was born, a dream that was made a reality in the Digital Americas Pipeline Initiative, DAPI, the first Artificial Intelligence Center of Colombia, created in Medellín by Ruta N and IRPA & AI, Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence of the United States.

Medellín Innovation District Ruta N

2016 - 2018


jobs generated, 1,264 in 2018.


companies attracted from 31 countries, 26 in 2018.
La robot Sophia en Medellín
The robot, Sophia, in its first visit to South America, in the Summer School of the Pontificia Bolivariana University (UPB) of Medellín.

When Alejandro says “we have the capacity,” he means an ecosystem that is gestating in Medellín with DAPI as an articulator, and of which some 6,000 members are part, among whom there are world experts in robotic automation of processes, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence..

DAPI, which operates as an independent company, has almost assured the world market demand for the commercial connections of the IRPA & AI Institute, the first and largest global ecosystem of this type of specialties, known for its vision, experience, leadership and access to decision-makers in major companies throughout the world.

“The investment in technology and innovation breaks inequality, connects citizens and allows for the confluence
of wills and dreams of the city.”

Catalina Restrepo Carvajal, Executive Director
of ACI Medellín

This agency traditionally hires developments in India and Mexico but after evaluating several markets, such as Costa Rica, it chose Medellín as its headquarters and Ruta N as its commercial partner. The company has the business units: creating talent, selling services, forming a community of developers and startups and, at a later time, advisement of companies in specialties related to automation, machine learning, robotic processes and AI.

Thanks to the support of Procolombia and the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area – ACI Medellín, IRPA chose the city for conditions such as the time zone, which facilitates processes on a day-to-day basis with the United States, the cost of labor and the strengths of Ruta N, in order to develop local capacities.

“he initial doubts that the Institute had about settling in Medellín are great advantages of DAPI today: human talent, a strong partner to develop Medellín as an AI hub, guarantee long-term sustainability and promote a local ecosystem with international vision,” highlights Maria Isabel Palomino, DAPI CEO.

“El analfabetismo del futuro será la tecnología y nos preparamos para enfrentarlo. En poco tiempo Medellín será epicentro de inteligencia artificial”

María Isabel Palomino, gerente de Digital Americas Pipeline Initiative, DAPI.

Exceeding Expectations

ACI Medellín provided the legal and operational support, and facilitated the relationship with IRPA. In just three months of operations, DAPI has four experts in mathematics, systems engineering, electronics, physics and Artificial Intelligence. By December, there will be 24 employees and 60 in a year’s time, all enjoying benefits of quality employment: good salaries, sustainability over time and opportunities for professional growth.

“These types of initiatives, focused on training, are an opportunity to diversify the business platform in a high potential industry, such as innovation and technological infrastructure. Reducing the digital divide will allow us to reduce inequality and facilitate the creation of companies and jobs,” said Alejandro Franco Restrepo, Executive Director of Ruta N.

By 2020, Artificial Intelligence will generate 2.3 million jobs in the world. By 2021, it will contribute USD16 Trillion  to the world economy

Source: PwC

When Frank Casale, founder of IRPA & AI, arrived in Medellín, he thought about finding a less developed city. But he said he felt he was in Silicon Valley, after visiting the infrastructure of Ruta N, finding talent in profitable technology and the support of government, business and academic research communities.

For the launch of DAPI, a chatbot made the registration of the attendees, took a picture and uploaded it to the system so that later, at their entrance, a robot made in Medellín, identified those attendees through a face recognition screen and welcomed them by name.

They were dazzled, “not even at our events in the United States have we had these innovations,” said members of IRPA & AI.

That day, a wave began to expand in the minds of everyone. Many dreams were created. Knowledge of Ruta N, IRPA & AI and DAPI started to be spread to the local ecosystem. This wave also includes aligning a strategy to produce the talent that the world needs in Artificial Intelligence, exporting services from the capital of Antioquia to the world, generating business and local employment, and bringing pure mathematics and technological knowledge to life and the needs of people.

The marriage between IRPA & AI and Ruta N

  • IRPA & AI is in charge of the training and commercial aspects, assembling the training modules, and connecting DAPI to the international market access network.
  • Ruta N put up the startup capital to hire the staff and manages DAPI.
  • The business model: to hire and train people with a minimum profile in Pytion and Javas Script programming languages to sell services
  • The investment: USD250k by Ruta N, close to 750 million pesos for the first year of operations; and one million dollars of IRPA & AI, in kind, for the training of the team and development of the offer and service platform
  • The services: problem solving and process optimization through artificial intelligence, bots development, robots or autonomous computer programs capable of performing human tasks, programming in RPA and specialized software
  • The process: the employees have 30 to 60-day training in RPA and AI and carry out their own project as a practice
  • Employment: 680 people in four years
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crecimiento económico y empleo en Medellín

Economy and Employment: Need to Walk at the Same Pace in Medellín

Medellín seeks to unify the pace between economic growth and quality employment through foreign investment, innovation, commitment to strategic sectors and the knowledge economy.

The US multinational, Stanley Black & Decker has 175 years of operations and 93 years of experience in international expansion, which validates that its business relationships are successful and that its investments in Europe, America, Africa and the Far East are done by a specialist.

This premise gives double merit to Medellín, a city that was selected by that company to create a subsidiary of financial and commercial services for its other companies in America and create 200 direct jobs.

The company highlights that the capital of Antioquia has the capacity to provide high-quality commercial services. “It’s a growing city focused on innovation, with lots of talent and an attractive location to develop our world-class center and strategic initiatives,” says Jamie Ritter, Executive Director.

For its part, Genius Sport, the fastest growing technology, distribution and marketing company of sports data in the world, official ally of FIBA, the Premier League of England and of the NBA, expanded its global presence with new offices in Vilnius in Lithuania, California in the United States and in the capital of Antioquia.

“We opened offices in key cities such as Medellín to strengthen our reputation, resources and services, and respond to the growing demand in all regions around the world,” said Mark Locke, CEO.

But what has Medellín done to earn these merits? The primary action is to include the generation of quality employment in its public policy. Beyond lowering unemployment figures, this challenged the city to ensure decent work and motivate foreign investment and economic growth.

It has been gradually migrating to a knowledge economy, to better wages, a higher quality of life and to a higher average per capita income, even though it has great challenges around inequality.

Something very similar happens in the world. The growth of economies and breaking the unemployment numbers in red were the goals of many governments for years and meant positive results to overcome extreme poverty.

However, economic development and employment almost never progressed at the same pace and informality, forced labor, labor exclusion and inequality grew, which motivated the inclusion of decent work in one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Generating employment through foreign investment has been a strategy to comply with this SDGs in Medellín. Investment in the city grew 75% between 2016 and 2017, and to September 2018, it has exceeded 253.3 million dollars.

Medellín has qualified human talent and a wide academic offer.

In the last three years, 61 business projects have been installed in the city, 38 of which are new investments and 23 are for reinvestment. Together, they have created more than 7,200 jobs.

A City that Creates Trust

Although the previous figures are conclusive, it is much more remarkable that 31% of the projects are from the software and information and communications technology services, which demanded less investment (11% of the total capital). In addition, they are more impressive in quality employment, due to easy work schedules, conditions and professional promotion of those hired.

Among other companies that have settled in the city are Growth Acceleration Partners, Onelink and Unido, of the EE.UU.; Sana Commerce, from the Netherlands and Accenture, from Ireland. Additionally, investments have increased in: Hotels and lodging Real Estate, Wework, Selina, Marriott Hotel, Grupo Éxito, Renault, Schindler, POMA and Grupo Cala.

“In Medellín, we know how to solve problems due to our social history. The business leaders, the government and the academy meet constantly. They think as a team and make projects together to take the city forward,” highlights Catalina Restrepo Carvajal, Executive Director of ACI Medellín.

The institutionality is strong, regardless of leaders or whomever is in office, projects of previous administrations are not suspended. An example is the public transport model with tram (streetcar), metro, metrocable, metroplus (BRT) and integrated buses, as well as urban renewal with scenarios that foster new lifestyles for the community.

Jobs generated by business initiatives in Medellín



3,039 jobs


2,692 jobs


3,180 jobs

María Fernanda Galeano Rojo
Secretary of Economic Development of Medellín, María Fernanda Galeano Rojo.

“Our public policy fosters the transformation of the business base, from industry to the economy of science, innovation, strengthening and formalization of strategic activities such as tourism, agro-industry and competitiveness with environmental conditions such as road infrastructure and air connectivity,” said María Fernanda Galeano Rojo, Secretary of Economic Development of Medellín.

When you arrive in Medellín, you find that the paisas are business leaders and entrepreneurs. They carry this in their DNA. The city is home to ten of the companies with the highest stock market value of the Colombian Stock Exchange, many of them Multi-Latin-American companies. We govern directly and with equity. Public-owned companies, such as EPM and Ruta N, are independent, profitable and with important social projects; and inhabitants want to tell their stories and receive the foreigner with kindness and diligence.

This is the beginning of master moves for Medellín as a resilient expert who wants to innovate, who knows how to reinvent itself and who has the experience to create and execute projects that make a difference.

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Igualdad de género y diversidad

Medellín, a territory for everyone, inclusive and friendly territory for the LGBTI population

Being part of the Rainbow Cities Latin American Network is a sign of the Antioquian capital’s interest and commitment to the elimination of discrimination and to achieving an inclusive and friendly territory for the LGBTI population, and safety for women and girls.

If there is something that Jhon Jairo Gómez feels for the Medellín Mayor’s office, it is gratitude. He, who his friends know as Jota, has been a beneficiary, for more than five years, of different programs that gave him psychological support and attention. This support has helped him to accept himself as he is and to rebuild his life, as he was the victim of intra-urban displacement and other scourges, such as abuse and sexual violence.

The Centro para la Diversidad Sexual e Identidades de Género – Center for Sexual Diversity and Gender Identities is like home for him, where he feels happy, welcomed and respected. “Here, they helped me find meaning in my life. I began to paint. I exhibited my works and I have grown a lot as a human being,” he says.

Medellín is the 22nd city in the world to enter the UN Women “Safe Cities” program. It is the third in Latin America and the first in Colombia..

Like him, other gay men, lesbians and transsexuals have received differential and integral attention in the Center. This space, open to all types of public, was created based on the LGBTI public policy that protects their rights and demonstrates Medellín’s commitment to combat discrimination, homophobia and psychological and physical violence.

To move forward in that sense, through the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area, the opportunity to build strategies with other cities around sexual diversity and gender identity was identified. It was then when, in 2016, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Rosario, Montevideo, São Paulo, Bogotá and Medellín created the Rainbow Cities Latin American Network.

“Being in the Network means being a city that is friendly with diversity and exchanging knowledge and experiences to enrich the programs and actions we have for this population,” explains Paulina Suárez, Secretary for Social Inclusion.

ACI Medellín has accompanied and managed the visits of UN Women to learn how the city advances in providing security for women and girls.

Achievements of an Inclusive Territory

Today, Medellín has a strategic plan for its LGTBI public policy, with a 10-year projection, which seeks to improve the living conditions of these populations with services such as psychosocial support, legal advice and labor intermediation, as well as promoting actions that transform the social imaginaries about them:

  • The city works with an intersectional approach, that is, recognizing differences to provide each person attention that fits their situation.
  • Sensitization actions in private companies to put aside prejudices and provide job opportunities to these people; health days, and academic and cultural agendas on topics of interest, both for them and for the rest of the population.
  • Coordinated initiatives with the Secretariats of Health, Culture, Women, Private Sector, Economic Development, Communications and other institutions such as Fauds (Family and Friends United for Sexual and Gender Diversity) and Egocity to achieve actions that guarantee inclusion and protection of rights for LGBTI people.


Since 2012, more than 500 people have received psychosocial and LGBTI legal advice at the Center for Sexual and Gender Identity Diversity.

51 processes for ID registry and change of name for the transsexual population and more than 60 training workshops.

More than 50,000 people of all genders and identities participated in the Marcha
del Amor -
March of Love, held on July 1, 2018.

Safe Spaces for Women and Girls

The compliments, lascivious glances, whistles and other sounds that women often receive in public spaces in Medellín generate  feelings in them, such as insecurity, fear, anger or displeasure, which makes them become more prepared and distrustful when they go on public transport, they walk down the street or when they visit spaces such as parks or outdoor gyms.

Aware of this situation, the Women’s Secretariat, with the accompaniment and management of ACI Medellín, managed to get the city into the Global Program of Safe Cities for Women and Girls of UN Women in 2015, an initiative to make visible and act in the face of harassment and sexual and gender violence in public spaces.

“Everything we did in Manrique was with the participation of women and girls. It was they who built the messages,” says Valeria Molina, Secretary for Women, who explains that they chose this Comuna to begin the program with, because it is the second with the largest number of men compared to the rest of the city. Also, of the 15 neighborhoods that make it up, 58% are considered vulnerables.

The implementation of the project has had these stages


Exploratory study on security and gender violence in Comuna 3, Manrique.


Construction of the logical framework on the perception of sexual harassment and violence against women and girls in public spaces.

2017 - 2018

Pilot test roll out with four components:

See: visualization of information through messages expressed in murals, bus stickers and educational material.

Understand: work with prioritized public members, women and girls, police, teachers, merchants and transporters.

Transform: field trips and conversations with citizens to generate awareness and changes facing this problem.

Manage: institutional articulation with other actors such as the secretariats of Security, Education
and Culture, Inder Medellín (Sports and Recreation),
the Metro and Corporación Con-Vivamos.

Secretaria de las Mujeres, Valeria Molina Gómez
Secretariat for Women, Valeria Molina Gómez.

“Everything we did in Manrique was with the participation of women and girls. It was they who built the messages,” says Valeria Molina, Secretary for Women, who explains that they chose this Comuna to begin the program with, because it is the second with the largest number of men compared to the rest of the city. Also, of the 15 neighborhoods that make it up, 58% are considered vulnerables.

After this experience, the Secretariat is working on the construction of a second baseline for three other comunas in the city, where it will identify aspects such as forms of sexual harassment, generated feelings and effects, frequency with which women suffer some form of harassment, places where there is more incidents and the general perception regarding violence and sexual harassment.

Medellín has been part of the UN’s Global Program of Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls since 2015.

Medellín, with the guidelines of UN Women, has gone further. It has innovated and has become a benchmark in other parts of the world for its commitment and for being able to reach places such as public transport to build a safe territory for women and girls.

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Distrito Térmico de EPM Medellín

Thermal District: Green Infrastructure that Cares for the Air We Breathe in Medellín

EPM makes affordable and non-polluting energy available to the community through the La Alpujarra Thermal District, a pioneering project in Latin America to take care of the planet.

“The first thermal district of Latin America is in Medellín,” “Medellín enters the wave of green facades” and “Pilot projects that fight global warming.” This is how the national media informed the world of the start-up of the first thermal district that was built in Medellín, a project providing, since 2016, air conditioning on demand to the buildings of the Medellín Mayor’s Office, the City Council, the Departmental Assembly, the Metropolitan Area and the Colombian Tax and Customs Authority.

“The district was designed to meet two objectives: to efficiently use air conditioning service and to eliminate polluting elements,” says Carlos Arturo Díaz Romero, Natural Gas Vice President of EPM.

The process produces cold water. It is transported to buildings and finally distributes air conditioning for the offices, with an efficient water circulation, without waste, from natural gas and electricity, as primary sources to produce thermal energy.

This achievement was made possible thanks to the EPM Group, with the support of the Economic Affairs Secretariat of Switzerland -Seco-, the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Presidential Cooperation Agency of Colombia -ACP- and under the coordination of ACI Medellín.

The La Alpujarra Thermal District has a capacity of 3,600 tons of refrigeration. Today, with customers who use air conditioning on demand, it is using 80% of its capacity.

A Success with a Local Seal

The use of thermal districts in the world is quite common, especially for the generation of heat during cold seasons. Switzerland, the United States, China, Denmark and many other nations have adopted this energy efficiency technology to slow down the growth of the carbon footprint.

In Medellín, a meeting of wills made it possible for this thermal district to become reality, with a particular fact: while these districts are commonly used for hotels, hospitals and private buildings in the rest of the world, here, the government sector was the first encouraged to implement this solution. “The customers believed, they bet on it, wanted to do things, waited patiently and now enjoy the results,” says Carlos Arturo Díaz.

From the beginning, there has been interest in replicating the system in other cities of the country, such as Bogotá, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena and Bucaramanga. If we consider that 75% of the population in Colombia lives in cities and that almost 70% of these are located below 1,500 meters above sea level, there is much potential for the use of cold, says the EPM vice president of Gas.

In addition to the service, this infrastructure has been designed for the purpose of fulfilling educational and didactic functions so that, in the future, other companies will implement it so that their projects do not start from scratch, but with the knowledge acquired from this first experience.

USD 6 millones en aportes de la Secretaría de Asuntos Económicos de Suiza.

An Environmental Oasis

A differentiating element in this successful case is the urban intervention. Located in a complex area of the city, with high traffic, surrounded by mechanics’ workshops and other businesses, it was a challenge to build an environmentally friendly construction, sustainable and connected to the integral renovation plan of the city center.

Thus, the work was not only of a technological nature, but also on the landscape. This is one of the aspects that amazes foreign visitors, since thermal districts are usually armored or hidden constructions. However, this one in Medellín is visible and stands out like a breath of oxygen in the middle of a highly mobile area.

Its construction is anti-noise, does not require any maintenance by customers and increases the usable space of the building, because it eliminates the need for installation of a chiller or water cooler.

The search to multiply this class of projects, even with other applications, continues. An example of this is under study in Urabá in order to take advantage of residual elements and organic waste to generate energy, in this case cold, for food preservation.

By implementing the district, the project contributes to the commitments of Colombia as part of the Montreal Protocol, to the goals of the Colombian Low Carbon Development Strategy and the Program for the Rational and Efficient Use of Energy. In addition, a seed is sown from a regional scope for the Earth’s preservation.

100% ozone depleting substances eliminated. Between 25% and 30% savings in energy consumption.


Evaluation of technological developments to solve energy distribution of air conditioning. The distribution of frozen water from EPM to Plaza Mayor was implemented.


EPM and the Ozone Technical Unit – UTO, in Spanish – of the Ministry for the Environment joined forces to replace equipment that works with ozone-depleting refrigerant substances, greenhouse gases and inefficient energy use, in buildings in the La Alpujarra sector.


Alliance to develop the La Alpujarra Thermal District and promote policies and actions
in the country that allow replicating this type of projects.


La Alpujarra Thermal District.
starts operations.

“An innovative experience” Jorge Londoño De La Cuesta

Jorge Londoño De la Cuesta
Jorge Londoño De la Cuesta, EPM General Manager.


Why is the EPM Thermal District a strategic project for the city and for the company? This initiative is part of the growth and search for new products and services portfolio of EPM, which leverages the strategy to favor competitive and sustainable territories based on energy efficiency processes, reduction of operating costs, customer loyalty and reduction of emissions that pollute the environment. This type of initiative drives the development of projects aimed at positioning Medellín as an innovative city.

How do you contribute toward the compliance of the SDGs? The Thermal District of EPM, when generating thermal energy using natural gas as fuel in a high efficiency afterburner system, is friendly to the environment. In addition, it is important to note that, with the implementation of the District in the La Alpujarra sector, 30% of greenhouse gases and 100% of emissions of substances that exhaust the ozone layer are reduced.

What has been the influence of the ACI Medellín in this type of initiatives, as a link between companies and local government institutions and foreign investors? These types of links are important and necessary because they provide security to investors when they see that, through these agencies, resources are directed for the execution of strategic projects for the community that reflect governability in the regions. Through institutions such as the ACI Medellín, it is possible to generate pedagogical scenarios to promote that external agents evidence environmental culture and innovation.

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Medellín, ciudad del aprendizaje

Medellín, A City for Learning

Visiting the Fiesta del Libro – Book Festival – and attending a talk by authors; enrolling a child in the program of comprehensive childhood care Buen Comienzo; taking advantage of the benefits of information and communications technologies in a public library; or attending concerts or film shows in the Unidades de Vida Articulada UVA – Articulated Life Units – are some of the advantages of Learning Cities, a distinction that UNESCO awarded to Medellín on 2017 for promoting and ensuring inclusive, equitable, and quality education, promoting long life learning opportunities.

Having the opportunity to learn in parks, educational centers, libraries, museums, government programs and cultural events is a benefit of living in a territory that vibrates with knowledge.

By fulfilling the commitment to provide equity in education, the city is implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 and 11, making it a great achievement to integrate a vision that transcends schools and includes other public spaces of the city, available for people to enjoy and take advantage of.

“What UNESCO does is to recognize these good practices,” says the Secretary of Education, Luis Guillermo Patiño, who testifies to the benefits of being a participant in this achievement. He says this while walking through yet another of the spaces generated for the enjoyment of city residents: The Feria del Libro y la Cultura (The Book and Culture Festival), an annual event that takes place in the Botanical Gardens and that gathers a wide cultural program in the northern area of the city.

“ACI Medellín has been very important for the city, because it has acted as an articulating ally between Medellín, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidency of Colombia and UNESCO. It has helped us to weave these relationships, to show these networks abroad and to showcase the city to the world as one having quality education.” Luis Guillermo Patiño, Secretary of Education of Medellín.

Beyond Classrooms

Education in Medellín includes more than 400,000 students from public and private institutions and connects inhabitants of all ages through programs created to provide coverage to the population of all conditions and possibilities.

Buen Comienzo, En el Colegio Contamos con Vos, Escuela Entorno Protector and Alianzas con Vos are a few of the most outstanding programs, in addition to other alternatives such as schools for inclusion, youth clubs and higher education scholarships, Sapiensa, which are articulated with other secretariats and public and private institutions in order to generate significant environments.

Being a member of the Global Network of Learning Cities of UNESCO-GNLC-, to which only 14 Latin American countries belong, assures Medellín has access to benefits such as the transfer of knowledge with other cities in the world, the promotion of public education policies and provision skills and instruments for the stimulation of education.

The commitment of the community to maintain its participation in this select group is also fundamental. Its purpose is to achieve the dream of improving the quality of life of the inhabitants through the enjoyment of learning.

An educational possibility for every moment of life

Good Start

Children from gestation to 5 years

Serves children from gestation to five years of age, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers in vulnerable conditions, in the 16 communes and 5 townships of Medellín. It benefited more than 89,000 people in 2017.

Inclusion is with you

Children with learning difficulties

Guarantees the right to education, which goes beyond the allocation of the school quota, to access to education, enrollment and adaptation to the educational institution.

Forming Talents

Youth population

Prepares young people to develop their talents through activities that allow them to deepen their passions. The Medellín Mayor’s Office, in conjunction with Comfama, are the leading entities. In 2018, more than 1,754 places have been opened for job training courses.

Alliances with You, School Protective, Complementary Education and At School we Count on You

Children and young people

Alliances with You: strategic alliances involving universities, businesses and private schools that are committed to improving the quality of education in Medellín.

School Protective: supports educational institutions in the prevention of situations, such as school harassment, teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, suicidal behavior, consumption of psychoactive substances and the use of minors by criminal groups. This program benefited 291,444 students from public schools in 2017.

Complementary Education: spaces for students to make creative use of their free time in areas such as science and technology, culture, environment, sports, citizenship training and bilingualism.

At School we Count on You: entails travel through the communes of the city in search of out of school children to introduce families to the school offer in order for their children to study. In 2017, the program identified 1,919 students who had dropped out of school and reintegrated them into the education system.

Teacher Innovation Center -Mova-, Sapiencia

Young people and adults

Mova, Teacher Innovation Center: trains teachers in teaching and learning methodologies in their areas of knowledge.

Sapiencia: manages public resources for the comprehensive education of citizens in higher education. This agency awarded 10,000 scholarships for technological programs related to the cluster sector of the city.

Digital Education Course

Senior adults

Training process in basic skills to develop in the digital world, improve the quality of life and promote access to technology.

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Huertas urbanas y rurales

Urban and rural kitchen gardens are an alternative in Medellín to increase food security

Home grown crop

Every morning, Mr. Mario Pimienta finds motivation to get up early. He takes care of his cilantro, paprika, lettuce, chard and radish plants with the same devotion as he cares for his grandchildren or his family. It is a daily and patient ritual: planting, watering, scattering the soil and checking if his crops are ready to be shared at the table. He has reached sixty years of marriage, raised five children and is now retired from his work life. He makes his urban kitchen garden a reason to learn, eat healthy and enjoy a personal therapy to which he dedicates time and desire.

“It is a very pleasant experience, because I know I eat well, with vegetables without contaminants and with the joy of knowing that they are the result of my own effort,” explains Don Mario. Of all that he has sown in the twelve baskets of his backyard, he affirms, amid smiles, that he does not like radishes and that he would like to plant onions, his favorite.

Huertas con Vos also provides advice and technical support to crops that are the result of a personal or family effort. Thus, the Municipal Administration supplies the experience and the necessary human team to bring knowledge to the territories.

Huertas urbanas y sociales
Mario Pimienta and his urban garden in the Comuna 9
of Medellín, Buenos Aires.

This dream of having a piece of the farm within his house, in the east of Medellín, was born the day he heard from the voice of his neighbors that the Medellín Mayor’s Office had a program to grow vegetables at home for everyday consumption.

He was encouraged, attended the theoretical and practical workshops, and finally received the tool kit consisting of a rake, watering can, plastic bag, fertilizer and seeds.

This is how Huertas con Vos (Urban and Rural Kitchen Gardens with you) operates. It is a program of the Municipal Administration that guarantees the consumption of healthy, varied, sufficient and planned products. For the Secretary of Social Inclusion, Paulina Suárez Roldán, “this initiative improves food security conditions, achieves savings per family and per month close to COP$70,000, strengthens family relationships and builds a social fabric.”

These orchards, rather than generators of sufficient and healthy food, are infrastructure, economic development, agricultural support, education, health, social work and an incentive to explore new and diverse gastronomic preparations.

Sustainable and Productive Indoors

To be part of Huertas con Vos, you need the availability of at least 10 square meters of the terrace, patio or green area in the urban area and 100 square meters in the rural area. You must also fill out a document in current calls, attend workshops where participants learn everything from how to plant to how to enrich meals and accompany the process of growth, as well as, to harvest and care for plants with biocompounds and biopreparations.

Esteban Gallego Restrepo, director of Food Security of the Medellín Mayor’s Office, explains that “this project is sustainable, has indicators and provides people with skills so they can appropriate and continue with their gardens over time.”

When the family harvest is so productive that it exceeds 50 kilograms, generated surpluses can be used for marketing and sale. With this Alianza por el Buen Vivir (Alliance for Good Living), the two most vulnerable links in the production chain are supported: family farmers and the final consumer, by improving sales conditions, for the former, and offering the latter, a quality product at a very good price.

This local experience has been advised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), so hat income is generated with agroproductive models and the results are visible to the world, in order to find the best international partners in its execution.

This is an associative, democratic and solidary model that makes it possible, for example, for family members to sell 14 tons of Creole potatoes every month to school restaurants in the city.

In this fashion, we work from Medellín, in conjunction with other programs, to meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable, eradicate extreme hunger and malnutrition, and facilitate access to nutritious and sufficient food throughout the year.

An urban kitchen garden:

  • Green curly lettuce
  • Purple cabbage
  • Tomato
  • Radish
  • Paprika
  • Chard Beet
  • Carrot

An rural kitchen garden:

  • Green curly lettuce
  • Purple curly lettuce
  • Green cabbage
  • Purple cabbage
  • Tomato
  • Carrot
  • Beet
  • Cucumber
  • Cilantro
  • Chard
  • Zucchini
  • Red onion
  • Radish
  • Red bean
  • Pea
  • Bean
  • Curuba
  • Lulo
Featured Post
Paseo Bolivar, Medellín

A legal, equitable and inclusive Medellín

By Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga

Medellín is a fascinating city. Precisely, what makes our present so valuable is our past. After living through terrible episodes of fear and violence in the 80s and 90s, our society learned how to rebuild itself and is a reference of transformation in the world today.

During this path, we have learned the importance of aligning ourselves with the global agenda and of planning our advances in the mid and long terms. This is why we have thought of ourselves in terms of the challenges all the world’s cities face, en route to what 193 world leaders defined in 2015: the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs – which aim for the elimination of extreme poverty, of inequality and injustice and answer to a global sustainability agenda.

As part of the strive for a more equitable and inclusive city, in social and territorial terms, from the beginning of our Government, we decided to incorporate 70% of the SDGs to the 2016-2019 Development Plan: Medellín Cuenta con vos. Not all objectives are included, since some are not applicable, as for instance, the protection of oceans.

Medellín met the universal call of the United Nations Program to put an end to poverty, protect the planet and guarantee that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Our Development Plan makes up the city’s route map and contains a work agenda focussed on persons, prosperity, peace, the planet and its partnerships, the five thematic focuses defined by the UN that answer to the three dimensions which make up sustainability: social, economic and environmental.

70% of the Sustainable Development Goal indicators are incorporated to the 2016-2019 Development Plan.

The focus on people covers five of the SDGs: an end to poverty, zero hunger, health and welfare, quality of education and gender equality. We have made significant advances in this sense. For example, Education is the Development Plan line with the highest allotted budget. This is due to our conviction and need that children achieve their dreams within the framework of legality, that children become “experts” but in the realm of medicine, science and art, that they are educated personally and professionally and contribute to the economic and social development of the city.

Among the main advances are the increase in coverage of the Buen Comienzo (Good Start) Program, which went from 69.2% in 2015 to 78.7% in 2017, and the decrease in illiteracy rates and school desertion. In addition, there is an evident improvement in the quality of education in schools, an increase in scholarships for undergraduate education and 300 scholarships for masters programs for our teachers between 2017 and 2019. Moreover, UNESCO recognized Medellín as a Learning City, integrating it to a group of a mere 14 Latin American cities that stand out for their efforts in achieving quality education along the life of their inhabitants.

The goal is for Medellín to reach, in 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals that were globally defined, for which a city agenda has been made hand-in-hand with the private sector and academia.

In this focus of Prosperity, associated to economic development and to which other SDGs are linked: accessible and non-polluting energy, decent employment and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduction of inequality and sustainable cities and communities, the city has a public policy for economic development that is supported by knowledge as a starting point for productivity, generation of employment and improvement in competitiveness. Proof of this is that the city currently invests 2.14% of its Gross Domestic Product in activities of science, technology and innovation. Our goal was to reach 3% in 2021 but we will surely meet that goal prior to that.

With regards to the focus of Peace, the world is witness to our efforts to overcome the past to building a just society that is inclusive and violence-free. This is why we have begun an ethical fight against illegality and criminal activities, which has been showing results. Notwithstanding, we are convinced that social investment is key and that transformation is achieved from within people and families, which is why we have been giving, hand-in-hand with my wife, Margarita, workshops in positive discipline and rearing in the most vulnerable zones in the city.

Medellín has a work plan focused on people, prosperity, peace, the planet and alliances. Photo, visitor to the Book Festival at the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden.

This sustainability agenda is an opportunity to articulate efforts among public and private institutions and civil society, thus improving the quality of life of people.

In the Planet thematic focus, sustainable mobility projects are our priority because they will enable us to improve the quality of the air we breath. We have advanced in renovation of vehicles, entry of electric cabs and the first articulated bus working with electric energy. We have increased the number of eco-stations, invested more than COP$76,000 million in the adaptation of bike routes, COP$298,000 million in the Picacho Metrocable and COP$45,000 million in the 30 green corridors in the city.

In the Partnership focus, we are clear in the knowledge that these are key for the development of the city and must be centered on the needs of the most vulnerable population. On 2016 and 2017, Foreign Direct Investment totalled USD 583 million and resources for cooperation amounted to USD 12.8 million. Ten South-South cooperation partnerships have been established and 52 projects have benefitted from the agreements for international cooperation.

We know these achievements are significant but are also aware that this is a long term process which began in previous years and to which we have given continuity. However, there is still much work to do. Notwithstanding, we are satisfied, because each invested resource corresponds to the Development Plan and the route map that was created with responsibility and stemming from the diagnosis of a city which began a transformation process, but that must keep working so that these achievements render the well-being of the population.

Content of the Revista Link 2018

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Aporte de Medellín a la Agenda 2030

Our Contribution to the Achievement of the 2030 Agenda

Of the 231 indicators within the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs – and the 200 outcome indicators that are part of the Medellín Cuenta con vos (Medellín Counts on You) 2016-2019” Development Plan, there are two indicators that are fundamental for the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area. These two are the contribution from our task, two challenges that significantly affect the economic and social development of the city and impact the achievement of results of the 2030 Agenda: “amount of national and foreign investment reported for development and competitiveness” and “amount of national and international technical and financial cooperation received.”

Executive Director, ACI Medellín, Catalina Restrepo Carvajal.

Although these two indicators are directly associated with SDG 17, “Partnerships for the goals,” their impact is also reflected on five more objectives: 4. Quality education; 8. Decent work and economic growth; 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure; 10. Reduction of inequalities, and 11. Sustainable cities and communities.

Our goals in nationally and internationally managed cooperation and in attracting foreign investment, as well as the actions we take going forward in the search for the internationalization of the City-Region, reflect our commitment to the contribution toward the improvement of the quality of life of the community, regarding the economic and social development of Medellin and the region. We are achieving this through the articulation of national and international actors with whom cooperation and investment partnerships are consolidated.

Directly, the actions carried out by the Agency in meeting these challenges seek the social development of the territory with equity, inclusion and sustainability.

Our task is putting Medellín on the global scene in a positive way, highlighting its advantages and competencies, generating trust and working together with international organizations, promoting local and global relationships. The Agency also showcases the city in different scenarios to promote and stimulate investment. This initiative leads to materializing of results such as the exchange of experiences and knowledge, capturing technical and financial support, generation of quality employment, qualification of human talent, development and strengthening of physical and technological infrastructures, economic growth and improvement of the quality of life of the inhabitants.

At ACI Medellín, we understand the dimensions of this global commitment and the significant impact we have on achieving this collective goal that erases the borders between countries and shows us how to walk hand in hand. For this reason, we have assumed the challenge with total responsibility, a sense of belonging and, above all, with a deep love and respect for our city, the region and the country.

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Distrito Creativo de Medellín Perpetuo Socorro

Medellín Works to Boost Orange Economy

Medellín trabaja para dinamizar la Economía Naranja

Orange Economy refers to all those economic activities related to the cultural industry, art, and creativity. In a stricter definition: “It is the set of activities that, linked, allow ideas to be transformed into cultural goods and services, whose value is determined by their content of intellectual property.”

(“The orange economy. An infinite opportunity,” Felipe Buitrago Restrepo).

Activities that make up the sector:

Music, television, cinema, design, photography, jewelry, theater, radio, plastic arts, content generation, and cultural tourism.

Actividades que componen la Economía Naranja

Cultural and Creative Ecosystem in Medellín

Medellín has more than 1,690 companies related to Orange Economy and 99% are micro and small companies.

In 2017, this sector represented 1.5% of Antioquia’s GDP and 3.4% of the Colombian economy. Therefore, it has been prioritized as an area of opportunity by the Public Policy of Economic Development of the city.

Based on this, a great bet has been set in motion in the city to boost the cultural economy, the Perpetuo Socorro Creative District:

A 62 hectares estate located in Medellín’s center which is expected to become a hub for creativity and art and the base of operations of national and foreign companies related to this sector.

Medellín, epicentro de la creatividad y el arte

In accordance with this initiative, Medellín has designed a series of tax incentives and benefits for companies that develop creative activities within this district:

  • Property tax exemption.
  • Special rate in the signs & boards and industry & commerce taxes.

National legal framework

There is a legal framework in Colombia that covers and promotes the growth of the sector:

  • Law of Cinema (Law 814).
  • Law of Public Spectacles (Law 1493).
  • Orange Law (Law 1834).

ACI Medellín’s Proactive work

The Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area – ACI Medellín, joined the initiative to promote and boost Orange Economy in the city and the region. Therefore, it works on two fronts:

  1. The attraction of anchor companies for the development of a creative ecosystem in Medellín.
  2. Active search for investors that work in real estate development in 31.92 hectares of the Creative District.
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Gestión de Cooperación Internacional

ACI Medellín Works in Six Lines of International Cooperation

The Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area – ACI Medellín- manages and oversees international cooperation opportunities for public initiatives and programs of social impact.

According to the origin of the resources for international cooperation, there are six cooperation modes:

Decentralized cooperation: refers to the set of actions promoted by local and regional governments for the dynamization of cooperation. Usually, these are medium and long-term actions aimed at enhancing the development of the territory and, sometimes, with the direct participation of interested population groups.  

Horizontal cooperation (South-South): promotes the generation of positive agendas and exchange of knowledge and experiences among developing countries. This type of cooperation is horizontal and solidary, focused on supporting the priorities of the countries involved.

Vertical cooperation (North-South): it involves a developed country and another one developing or with a lower level. In this mode, technical or financial cooperation provided by official bodies (State, local governments, executing agencies) or private entities that promote economic and social development come into play. These on-reimbursable resources are destined for developing countries and multilateral institutions.

Triangular cooperation: a mixed modality of international cooperation. It combines traditional or vertical cooperation with horizontal cooperation to provide cooperation to a third developing country.

Private cooperation: it refers to the provision of technical or financial resources by the private sector to promote innovation, development, generation of employment, wealth, and to reduce poverty.

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Learnings from the Medellín Lab 2018

There is no doubt that the reflections, analyses and learnings left by the Medellín Lab 2018 will be of great use for the growth of the participating cities in this second edition of the laboratory of living experiences of Medellín. This second edition of the Medellín Lab included tours around the city projects, joint creation workshops and presentations of positive city proposals.

29 participants from Chongqing (China), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Dakar (Senegal), Ho Chi Min (Vietnam), Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa), Cape Town (South Africa) and Jakarta (Indonesia) visited important urban interventions in the social and cultural transformation of Medellín. 

The attendees from the government sector of Asia and Africa, accompanied by ACI Medellín and the World Bank, had the opportunity to visit projects and programs such as: the green corridors of El Poblado Avenue and the Oriental avenue, the EnCicla project, the Ciudad del Río sector, the Metro, the tram, the Metrocable (cable cars), the renovation proposal of the Medellín Center, the Comprehensive Urban Projects (PUI), the Commune 13, among others.

They also learned about Medellín’s mobility, transport, infrastructure, urban planning and risk management models.

During the Medellín Lab 2018, Mayor Federico Gutiérrez talked to the visitors and highlighted the achievements of the transformation of the city as a scenario for the exchange of knowledge.

Medellín Lab | MDELAB2018

“When people talk about Medellín today, the present acquires value due to the difficulties we had experienced in the past. That is one of the greatest characteristics of Medellín: How did one of the most violent cities in the world, which in 1991 had a homicide rate of 381 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, to get be considered one of the most innovative cities in the world in just 27 years?” said the mayor.

According to the participants of the event, some of the most valuable learning is related to the sense of the articulated work between the business sector, the universities, the community and State for the construction of long-term public policies. Also, the evident work in social inclusion with one integrated ticket for transport and mobility systems and the accountability and efficiency of resources to increase the citizen trust.

The Metro Culture, the Public-Private Articulation, the sense of belonging and the continuity among policies were the learnings highlighted by the attendees of the Medellín Lab 2018.

The attendees were surprised with the importance of promoting a sense of belonging for the care of the public infrastructure like the Metro Culture does. At the same time, they highlighted the continuity in the public agenda, despite the changes of government, for the development of the territory.

Medellín LAB, laboratorio de experiencias vivas de ciudad

The participating cities are expected to replicate some initiatives and best practices of Medellín in the short, medium and long term. Besides, the organization of the event will apply the recommendations offered by the attendees to improve future versions.

“The Medellín Lab was a very enriching experience with other cities of the world on learning and exploring what can be done in our territories to achieve progress. It is not just what the city shows, but also what it can learn and exchange in that process of achieving better living conditions for the citizens of the world. That is the purpose of this City Laboratory” said Catalina Restrepo Carvajal, Executive Director ACI Medellín

With this second edition, the Medellín Lab becomes one of the most important laboratories of living experiences in the country and ratifies its valuable contribution to the construction of the territory based on an innovative dynamic through the knowledge and experiences of all cities of the world.

Laboratorio de experiencias vivas de ciudad en Medellín

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Medellín comparte lecciones aprendidas en urbanismo con ciudades asiáticas y africanas

Medellín shares Lessons Learned in Urban Planning with Asian and African cities

Medellín – ACI Medellín and the World Bank will develop the second version of the Medellín Lab, a two-way knowledge exchange methodology.

Between October 27 and November 2, 10 cities from Africa and Asia will visit Medellín to participate in the Medellín Lab. They will address issues such as urban regeneration, municipal funding mechanisms and sustainable mobility.

Experiences such as Integrated Urban Projects and Comprehensive Improvement of Neighborhoods, the Metro’s comprehensive actions and the funding mechanisms of the municipality of Medellín will be some of the successful experiences to be presented at the event. These experiences will be addressed from Medellín’s DNA, which was conceived by the base work group as the sum of: resilience, articulation, continuity, sense of belonging, working with the community, tradition of planning, public management, dignity and aesthetics.

By the end of the event, the organization expects Medellín to become a reference for concrete knowledge exchanges between cities and to share experiences that improve their contexts.

The World Bank and ACI Medellín have worked together in the event, guaranteeing a comprehensive vision of the public, private and academic aspects as key elements for the success and materialization of many realities in Medellín.

“There are many cities in the world that would like to learn from Medellín’s experience. This year we are working together with ACI Medellín in the second Medellín Lab. This time, Asian and African cities will participate on the event. It will be an excellent opportunity for the city to present these international delegations with its experiences in urban planning, mobility and funding instruments.” said Philip Karp, Lead Knowledge Management Officer in the World Bank.

“The Medellín Lab is one of the most notable events for ACI Medellín and thus for the city. It is a unique experience in Colombia, in which Medellín becomes a living laboratory for the knowledge and learnings exchange. This time, the presence of representatives from Africa and Asia will greatly enrich this experience. It undoubtedly consolidates the city as a benchmark for urban planning and transformation,” said Catalina Restrepo Carvajal, Executive Director of ACI Medellín.  


Medellín Lab is a knowledge and learning exchange methodology aimed to cooperation towards development designed by Medellín through its Agency for Cooperation and Investment – ACI Medellín.

Under this methodology, the city is understood as a “living laboratory of experiences” which make up an innovative model of public management and governance. Also, multi-actor and multi-level cooperation actions are carried out through visits, academic sessions and co-creation exercises, allowing other cities to study the solutions Medellín has found to its problems, identify meeting points for its replicability and find common answers to the challenges we face as cities.

Chongqing (China), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mumbai (India), Jakarta (Indonesia), Nairobi (Kenya), Kigali (Rwanda), Johannesburg, Cape Town and Johannesburg (South Africa), Dar es-Salaam, (Tanzania), Dakar (Senegal), Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam); will be the cities participating in the second version of the event from October 27 to November 2, 2018.

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Medellín, una ciudad a contraluz

Medellín, a Backlit City

Medellín and its inhabitants’ resilience is one of the four stories in the documentary Ciudades a Contraluz. It shows the profound essence of Beirut, Sarajevo, Medellín and Kigali, cities affected by violence that have healed their wounds to continue the path of social transformation.

The capital of Antioquia is one of the cities highlighted in the documentary filmed by the Spanish filmmaker Francesc Relea. Ciudades a Contraluz (Backlit Cities) has been awarded around the world, such as, Best Documentary and Best Editor in the last 34th version of the India Catalina Awards.

According to Francesc Relea, director of the documentary, the four cities have experienced urban and social transformations which show a resilient, conciliatory and optimistic spirit in their inhabitants, which in time, have allowed profound changes that reveal the construction of new imaginaries and realities.

Medellín bets on culture and hip hop to fight violence

In Ciudades a Contraluz, how the commitment to efficient public transport has allowed mobility and citizen development becomes evident. Also, viewers can appreciate how education and culture, through artistic expressions such as hip hop, have reduced violence to create new spaces for meeting and coexistence.

[ more info. ]

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Medellín: on the way to become a learning node

Knowledge management has become one of the pillars of the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellin and the Metropolitan Area in the attraction of cooperation and foreign investment into the city.

Knowledge transfer initiatives have been designed and implemented to position Medellín as a benchmark for best practices. They help us to capitalize the opportunities offered by the relationship with international partners.

Such is the case of the Medellín Lab program. It operates as a knowledge exchange platform and as a tool which generates cooperation alliances supported by the World Bank.

During its first edition in 2017, this project brought together several delegations from all around the world interested in learning about best practices in Medellín and other cities in terms of security, coexistence and peace building. This year, the Medellín Lab2018 will address issues of urban planning, mobility and project funding.

If you want to learn more about the experience of Medellín in knowledge exchange and learning initiatives, we invite you to see this interview in Spanish with Camilo Villa, World Bank’s knowledge management consultant.

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Redes de ciudades

Networks of Cities, an international relationship strategy

The networks of cities are a means of strengthening the international insertion of local governments, increasing opportunities for decentralized international cooperation and exchanging knowledge.

These networks act as bridges on the international discussion and the dissemination of the challenges faced by cities; they also allow them to work with strategic partners from different places around the world who share the same interests and challenges.

The networks became stronger during the 1980s with the creation of Metropolis, a global association that brings together cities with more than one million inhabitants. Later, in the nineties, other initiatives such as the Eurocities Network , in Europe, and Mercociudades, in South America were born.

In fact, the internationalization processes have been strengthened by networks of cities, as they open opportunities for participation in international events and awards designed to maximize the dissemination of the best practices of each territory in terms of social and economic development. In the case of Medellín, these networks have been the best scenario to exchange best practices and to strengthen international relations which have enabled cooperation and human development processes.

The networks in which Medellín participates are:

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Dreams Fulfilled in the Metamorphosis of a City

With three comprehensive intervention projects, in urban renewal, mobility and attention to early childhood, Medellín has become an international model of overcoming low levels of human development and caring for the most vulnerable populations. From ACI Medellín, these are the stories, told the world, about the transformation of the city in order to attract new resources, position public policy in the country and abroad, and exchange experiences.

Despite being separated by a mere 23 minutes, and being very close to the river that runs through the city from south to north, for many of the inhabitants of the northeastern area, going to work or making a purchase in downtown Medellín meant “going down” to the city. That was the description of the trip and the disconnection they felt with their own city, and as it was called by scholars, a historical exclusion. This exclusion could finally be solved with the Metrocable and the PUI (Comprehensive Urban Project in Spanish).

“those living in the sector were part of the forgotten geography. We had no spaces to walk in. There were only small houses on top of more small houses along the creek, so people said this was like ‘El Pesebre’ (a manger).” Luz Marina Gómez, community leader of “La Francia” neighborhood

Comprehensive Urban Projects have changed the lives of more than 170.000 inhabintants in Medellín.

She does not remember a different neighborhood, because she has lived here all her life. She inherited land from her father, as well as the spirit of always looking for the welfare of people. She did not leave when violence stole tranquility. She hesitated when the government promised change, and today, she assures with certainty, she will only leave La Francia when she dies. The PUI has changed her life and that of more than 170,000 inhabitants, with 28 projects in 13 neighborhoods.

However, she also says with insistence that no one believed in what the State had promised to do. She spoke with social managers and engineers at the “Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano” (Urban Development Corporation, EDU, in Spanish) and asked them what was going to happen. She was informed and then she retold the information during meetings in improvised places such as sports facilities and a billiard club, a few blocks away from her house.

“It was permanent and hard work to gain trust, but finally works began, and I was overwhelmed with all I had to do.” She was in charge of welcoming the workers, recording the time shifts and even had to verify the stock of construction tools available. Together with her neighbors, she worked for the territory they had imagined and planned during the workshops.

With this PUI, they moved from fear to hope, and from hope to life, thanks to the execution of works such as the “Paseo Urbano” (urban boulevard) at Calle 106, which increased the shops from 35 to about 250; the “Centro de Desarrollo Empresarial Zonal, Cedezo, in Santo Domingo Savio (Zonal Business Development Center) to support business ideas; the “Unidad Deportiva y Recreativa Granizal” (Sports and Recreational Facilities) to benefit 500,000 inhabitants; and the construction of the “Parque Biblioteca España,” the “Parque Lineal Quebrada La Herrera,” 126 homes and the “Mirador Andalucía – La Francia Bridge,” linking two sectors separated over the years, among other works totaling 25,000 square meters of urban facilities and 125,000 square meters of new public space.

“Medellín has achieved becoming an innovative city, not because of technology production, but because of its capacity for social and holistic intervention. We have communities who love their areas of residence, who feel part of the State and see the retribution of the contributions made via taxes. Therefore, the city went from being one of the most violent in the world, exclusionary and divided, to becoming the most innovative.” Margarita María Rivera, director of Social Management at EDU. 

Social planning in Medellín, the Latin American school

Having national and international benchmarks such as the favelas -shacks, slums shantytowns- in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; slums in Barcelona, Spain, and Bogotá’s urban transformation in the nineties, Medellín configured its Social Urbanization with a series of planning and intervention actions to promote comprehensive human development with citizen participation.

With the PUI for the North-Eastern area of the city, the first in the capital of Antioquia and completed in 2004, a replicable model that combines three components was created. It included physical reformation with the construction of cultural, sporting and educational facilities, housing, mobility and environmental improvement; social reformation, with the strengthening of citizen participation and mobilization; and institutional reform, which brings together government action across a range of programs and the promotion of appropriation of spaces and the quality of life of its people.

This model not only provided strength for Medellín to obtain recognition by the “Nobel of cities award” the Lee Kuan Yew World City 2016, delivered by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Center for Liveable Cities, but was also the gateway for the world coming through Medellín, together with the management of the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area –ACI Medellín. And it will open the path for other PUI to be developed in the Comuna 13 San Javier, the basin of the La Iguaná and the Northwest areas in El Picacho and at Central Eastern, by the green corridor of the Ayacucho Tram.

The modern tram, the face of the future

At the road corridor connecting the east of the region with downtown, through which one of the lines of the first electric tram in the 1940s ran, and the path through which farmers with colorful Silletas arrived in the marketplace, now runs the only modern tram in the country and the first in operation in Latin America in the twenty-first century.

As in the past, this passageway, of meeting and rest, residents, pedestrians and domestic and foreign travelers go up and down the 4.3 km route. They marvel at the 30 or more works of popular urban art painted on murals and facades of houses, and enjoy the more than 113,000 square meters of new public spaces and green areas.

One of the families who lived and made part of this change is the owner of Pizzas & Lasagna, a street vendor who began 22 years ago in Ayacucho and who then moved on to a commercial shop, led by the perseverance and discipline of food engineer William Lince and business manager Gloria Ledesma.

Pizzas y lasañas
Para Pizzas & Lasagna, the construction of Ayacucho’s Tram was a grow opportunity.

“On the weekends we are completely dedicated to the business. Selling on the streets was the way to begin but not a sustainable idea over time. We generated sales, but not capital,” explains William. So, they opened their first restaurant in Quinta Linda within the Buenos Aires neighborhood, where they soon won the recognition and appreciation of neighbors. With the desire to grow, they opened a second point of sale on Ayacucho Avenue and no more than thirty days went by when the tram works began.

“We did not expect the project to start off so fast; it was a big surprise. However, we believed and we stayed. We implemented sales strategies to sustain the business and were sure there would come a time of recovery and profits,” says Gloria.

Parallel to their flavor recognition of pizzas and lasagnas

and service excellence, another family dream was on the verge, in the production of artisanal ice cream. Daniela, their daughter, inherited the entrepreneurial spirit and while attending high school, took a course on ice cream preparation that marked her for life. While her father worked on the formulas, ingredients and chemical compositions to achieve the best flavor, she was attending school to become a food engineer and was getting ready for her next step, traveling for study at Carpigiani University in Italy. After that, only good news arose: participation and victory in the Gellato World Tour in Chicago in 2016 and third prize in the world in 2017 for the flavor “Amor-Acuyá,” a combination of chocolate,

passion fruit and the love the Lince Ledesma family has put in everything they do.

Today, from the headquarters of Pizzas & Lasagna, they appreciate not having left Ayacucho and are surprised to see the improvement in mobility, the sense of belonging of the people and of course, the increase in customers who visit their restaurant daily, thanks to its main course menu or for the dessert that has already achieved global recognition by chefs and ice cream makers alike.

Buen Comienzo to grow-up

Another one of the neighborhoods of the capital of Antioquia which was developed primarily with displaced population during the mid-sixties and seventies was Carpinelo, in the Comuna 1 Popular, near the edge of the mountains in the northeast.

Inhabitants began building houses made of wood and zinc roofs. Violent dynamics converged over the years, which brought government attention.

In 2013, with policy for attention to early childhood in the city and the country, the fourteenth Jardín Infantil Buen Comienzo (Good Start Kindergarten) opened. It was a place for children to plant their first dreams, opportunities,

and memories.

Under the design and implementation of the EDU, 1,556 square meters of facilities were built, 598 m2 of public space, and 2,050 m2 of free and recreational area. It included equipment and elements for ten child classrooms, nurseries, rooms for lactating moms, two rooms for crawlers, a dining area, a kitchen, an administrative area and other required spaces.

Also, with the operation of Las Golondrinas Foundation and the support of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, ICBF, service is supported by 23 community mothers, eight licensed preschool education personnel and a social worker, a psychologist, a nutritionist, a mediator artist, a special educator and a professional nurse.

But in addition to infrastructure and support from professional and technical personnel, there’s an interdisciplinary education wager that seeks for the children to explore and learn about issues such as water, animals, the environment and regional cultures.

“This garden is a place of recognition and respect, built by the community, where children are protected, cared for and are trained in values,” explains Yeini Margarita Ensuncho Celis, pedagogical coordinator.

Another achievement of this educational center, according to social worker Camilo Henao Mejía, was to position the Mesa de la Primera Infancia (Early Childhood Bureau) of the Comuna 1, where about thirty people participate, among Buen Comienzo operators, community leaders, the library network, different secretariats from the Medellín Mayor’s Office, such as Government and Health, and parents. This Early Childhood Bureau works for social mobilization, exchange of knowledge and experiences to qualify work articulately and recognize children as subjects of rights, protagonists of the present and managers for a better future.

Read more and download Link Magazine °5 | here »

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Medellín, Ciudad Global

Medellín’s challenge: to become a Global City

David Escobar Arango, current director of Comfama, had the chance to give a close look to the performance of the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area, ACI Medellín since its very beginning. He remembers that during 2004, when he served as Private Secretary for former Mayor, Sergio Fajardo, and was coordinator of the internationalization project line, as part of Medellín’s Development Plan, the Agency was in its initial stages. He recalls that a few people from the Agency were working from cubicles inside the building of Empresas Públicas de Medellín headquarters. During that time, much of what is now the Agency was in the making. At that time, he says, the strategy was getting the word out about Medellín. The objective was to be centered on establishing international relations. As a result, the attraction of investment, cooperation resources, strengthening trade links and engaging in cultural dialogue was intended to be much easier.

“ACI had no arrogant attitude, but neither was it mendicant […] They used to say, ‘We are good but we are lacking a lot and we have a lot of problems, but we want to share and learn.’” He stresses that this feature of the Agency’s organizational culture allowed for the seeking of both cooperation resources and the attraction of investment be done straightforwardly, telling the true story of Medellín, without ignoring the past, but also showing the strengths of the city. “It was a speech without winners or losers. The objective was not to bring a company to invest and then desist because it wasn’t what the investor expected.”

With dignity, the Agency began its activities. It began to manage the first resources and has gradually been advancing on what Escobar considers the most important task: “the mental and spiritual openness of the people from Antioquia.” He insists that addressing this issue is the essential role of the Agency, but it is also its greatest challenge: to work in this society in order to have more open-mindedness. Nonetheless, he states, we have very positive values, such as entrepreneurship, resilience and the ability to overcome adversity. Antioquia has not traditionally been very open to immigration, nor to world cultures. “I would say it has not been an internationalist society, not even in recent years,” he notes.

Recognizing oneself and promoting diversity

“I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any,” said Mahatma Gandhi, quoted by anthropologist and writer Wade Davis in one of his books. Escobar uses this quote to explain the need to continue working on global thinking, one that leads the city, the businesses and the population to a process of internationalization, without therein sacrificing identity. His assures that by knowing other cultures, one can recognize and understand its own. By way of this, we are allowing the building of a society where immigrants can actively participate, where people can come from other territories to study at local universities, to do business, to work or have internships in companies. “It would be great for companies in Antioquia, those who have made us what we are, to say, ‘In my steering committee, there is one European citizen or a Brazilian […]’ I think part of the future wealth of this society is to embrace and promote diversity.”

Now that he is working in the private sector, knowing the needs of the companies in Antioquia, he believes the task is not only for ACI Medellín or for the Medellín Mayor’s office. He suggests that public and private sectors, social organizations and universities should join forces, so that the results can be more easily obtained. Indeed, he goes further as to suggest that the Agency should also have presence of the universities, the private sector and social organizations. This is nothing but “preserving those features that have made us unique from the late nineteen-hundreds to the mid-twentieth century, those countenances which helped us survive the deepest crisis of the 1980s and 1990s,” he concludes.

Read and download more articles of Link Magazine | here »

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“The secret is to be open-minded” Carlos Ignacio Gallego, Grupo Nutresa CEO

With nearly one hundred years, Grupo Nutresa is one of the most important companies in the country. Its products are sold in 70 countries worldwide. It has operations in 15 countries, and more than 45,000 employees. Sales reached more than COP8,6 trillion in 2016. It is one of six Colombian companies with the highest market value and one of the six multilatinas companies with headquarters in Medellín.

In recent years, the company has gone international. It has spread not only in the Latin American market, but in more distant geographies such as Asia. Grupo Nutresa is a company that is part of the city’s business core. Its history is tied to the economic and social development of the city and is a key player in the process of industrialization that Medellín began in the early twentieth century. It has reinvented itself and has implemented a strategy that has led the company to become one of the most recognized food players in Latin America, not only for the quality of its products, but also for its commitment to sustainability. Carlos Ignacio Gallego, the Group’s CEO, spoke with Link magazine about the importance of cooperating agencies to attract investment and to support the industrial development that brings economic and social progress.

What is the role of the industrial sector in the city’s process of transformation?

Business development is linked to social development. In fact, it is statistically proven that an important part of the productivity and competitiveness of a company is related to the environment or the context in which it operates. We say that almost 60% of productivity is what is done inside the company, and 40% to what is done outside. Grupo Nutresa was established in this city. It has some of its most important companies based here and has always been linked to the progress and development of Medellín.

Why has Nutresa remained in Medellín?

When asked about the business model of the company, we always talk about three elements: people, brands, and distribution […] So the fact that companies like us, continue here, is not only for a historical reason. We can perfectly have offices in many places. Being here has to do, first, with the talent in the region, which is the greatest strength. Secondly, with a major brand development. From here we have been able to project that growth to act in other categories and other geographies.

This Group is not the same today than it was one hundred years ago. Companies change, transform, evolve, as we all must do. But we are committed to the region and its development. We know that what most favors business development is a business environment that will provide the right conditions to grow, be profitable and have the capacity to reinvest.

During their early days, these companies were very local. It was only after year 2000 when they accelerated their pace to be in other markets with a long-term scope. It was not only to leverage a timely opportunity, but to build a regional presence, that as the company, was long term and would significantly add to the development in other countries.

How has the expansion process been?

It is a process that has been achieved with great humility. It is not only to sell elsewhere what we sell in Colombia. It is also learning about customers, clients, buyers. It is about respecting local traditions, assessing the talent in each of these regions and creating different value proposals from those of the competitors and making them better, and winning preference in those markets.

We have been able to do this, overcoming initial limitations. Antioquia was for many years a region enclosed by these mountains. The lack of adequate infrastructure made us look inward. The country was, for many years, limited by protectionist policies. We are a group that believes in the convenience of free competition, one which believes that exposure to other markets and cultures, understanding more demanding consumers makes us better. We are a group that dared to make the first export of processed coffee to Asia in 1961, and now even has own operations in Southeast Asia.

What is the importance of an organization like ACI Medellín in contributing to the development of the companies and the city?

I will highlight the importance the Agency has on building a far more global mindset in Medellín. Perhaps what you need the most for internationalization is, a mental openness that allows you to look at the other, to respect him/her, to try to learn, to value our traditions, but understanding there may be better things elsewhere. We also need to learn fast, to combine the strengths that exist locally with the ones abroad. We must understand that new ways of seeing the world and diversity are an asset and not a threat. As business leaders, we must have the openness to understand that change and evolution are not evil, it is something natural. We also have to understand that we cannot internationalize just a company, it is a society we are talking about. That is the path that has been traveled by Medellín, overcoming very difficult stages, violence, poverty and inequality. We have understood that we can work together between the public and private sectors. There’s an opportunity to build on both sides, that strong institutions are excellent so that there is business development and we as business leaders can help in this symbiosis. Development is not only for business leaders, but for the whole society.

“ACI Medellín is a facilitator of the internationalization of the city. It should be a facilitator of corporate business presence, of this change in the mindset needed to create a state and more connected companies to today’s world, not to the past.”
Carlos Ignacio Gallego, Grupo Nutresa CEO.

During these 15 years, ACI Medellín has attracted investments for more than USD1.6 billion. From your point of view as a business leader, what should the city continue doing so that these investments grow and have greater economic and social development?

Companies internationalize in many ways. There are companies that become international in inputs, because they use inputs that are not produced locally. There are companies that become international for its customers, they sell to customers who are abroad. There are also international companies by investors, because there are people abroad who decide to invest, buy shares, which may act locally, but are international. There are others that become international because they have talent, which is not only the one born here.

I think Medellín may find all these forms of internationalization as suitable, because basically what is there is a hue of opportunities, to be more competitive, to have better talent, to serve larger markets, to generate more economic and social value, more jobs, more taxes, and more opportunities.

This internationalization comes in many forms. It is not achieved simply by giving away resources. It is achieved with clear institutions, with stimuli, with good public services, better education, showing the advantages we have and maybe no one has heard about yet.

I think one of the interesting topics of the Agency, but it is not its only responsibility, is to be a facilitator, a catalyst aiding in the entire process of internationalization to be faster than those places where there is no such encouragement or facilitation.

We as business leaders are constantly reviewing ourselves and looking for opportunities and in this case ACI is an ally that is available, acts with initiative, not only by demand. The Agency is not just sitting and waiting to be called, it seeks to create opportunities and supports efforts where the city can progress to become one more connected with the rest of the world. That connection is a must. In some cases, it is very simple, in others it is more elaborated. Sometimes it requires overcoming prejudices or fame for problems that have been maybe already overcome; in others we have to be very realistic and acknowledge the difficulties we have. Nonetheless, we must show that we are working to overcoming them. I think that’s one of the merits justifying that there is an Agency like this.

When you study a new investment, what do you look for, apart from the business opportunity?

First, we look at the size and dynamics of the market. Secondly, we search for places where private leadership is seen as a development. You won’t find this in all countries. We want to be where the private sector is seen as an engine for development, where private property is respected, free enterprise is welcomed, as well as free competition. Thirdly, we want to go to countries where we can apply the skills we have and where we may have allies who are willing to combine their capabilities with ours. The other analysis is on risks and opportunities to determine where to go.

I think most companies carry out an analysis like this. That is a scenario where having an Agency that is able to show the advantages, realistically explain the risks, but able to advise those interested, can be very important for the development of the region. Moreover, we interact in many countries of America and Asia with similar agencies such as ACI, they do the same. Locally there are different entities created by municipalities or city councils, promoting the cities and supporting the establishment of entrepreneurs who want to go and do business. Although national agencies are very important, in reality we do not come to settle in a country, we land in a city, then local allies make the national efforts possible.

Medellín still fears the arrival of foreign companies, that’s the reason why we must create a new mentality. When I say exposure to other cultures, to other markets, other consumers, other people, I am talking about a source of growth and not a problem. That’s the perspective. We need to move away from protectionism and work more on productivity, competitiveness, talent development, use of technology. All of the above is more valuable than protection.

ACI has been doing this. The Agency evolved from only raising cooperation funds to attracting investment… What I have seen in the world is that organizations like ACI become like the development office of the city, and are being demanded inside and abroad. For example, the DCOA (Development Corporation of Abilene) in Texas has a development office in the city. This Agency is interested in fostering not only foreign companies, but also those local players. It is in charge of developing any type of requirements.

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Medellín, el mejor entorno para crecer

Medellín, the best environment to grow in

In a bar in Buenos Aires and with a beer in hand, four friends, Martín Migoya, Guibert Englebienne, Martin Umarán and Néstor Nocetti, decided to start the adventure of doing business in a country full of uncertainty. In 2003, Argentina was going through one of the worst periods in its economic history. It was experiencing negative growth, high unemployment and inflation above 40%.

It was the least propitious time to start a business. However, sometimes in the darkest moments the best ideas emerge, and that day, with beer in hand, they thought they could create a digital transformation company, able to solve software problems to the speed and with the technology companies required. But not happy with the idea, they also thought that Globant, their venture, would serve in foreign markets and that only a very small percentage would stay in Argentina.

Globant is a multinational technology company, created in Argentina. It is now in 12 countries and has established itself in Medellín since 2013. It was attracted to the city because of its innovation, transformation and talent.

In Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, India, UK, Spain, Chile and the United States, more than six thousand employees are dedicated to creating digital transformation strategies. “We call it the digital journey platform that connects users of a brand and generates empathy,” says Esteban Molina, Medellín Site Manager, to explain that Globant is much more than a company that solves software problems today. Within its service portfolio, it offers technologies such as gaming, data, IOT and AI, but primarily works to generate engagement between brands and their customers.

Talent search

Inside Globant’s DNA there is innovation and the need to find talent everywhere, not only in major cities, but any place in the world where it is available. Although created in Buenos Aires, a capital city, it was clear that talent in Argentina was also dispersed in the interior of the country, near the universities and so, they found themselves soon opening offices in provinces. This same model was extended to the countries where they arrived in.

They landed in Colombia back in 2011, initially in Bogotá, but two and half years later began to search for new options. Procolombia showed them Medellín, Cali and Bucaramanga, then came the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area -ACI Medellín- showcased the city’s reality to them. For Globant, Medellín had been the city of the 1990s, described in films and series. However, ACI Medellín showed them a city undergoing transformation. They found a city with technology environment and innovation, with good universities, adequate urban facilities, continuous social metamorphosis, but especially with human talent, the input they have always focused on.

Besides giving them arguments to open their office in Medellín, the Agency connected them with what they needed. They were introduced to Ruta N and accompanied during the landing and establishment process.

“In 2013, we started in Medellín. We arrived more or less in April and it was a very quick process. We needed to grow and, within a month, we had already solved all these variables. Just a few of us arrived to Ruta N, and then, in just eight months, we were a hundred,” recounts Esteban Molina, now Medellín Site Manager. Back then, when Globant arrived in 2013, he was just an engineer working for an Argentinian company with a name. He was searching for an environment where he could continue growing and creating products for customers worldwide.

When Globant arrived in Medellín, it was one of the first companies to operate with Ruta N’s landing program. They started with two employees and no furniture. Soon staff multiplied. They reached the first one hundred, and in August 2017, the personnel in charge of assisting clients from Medellín had already summed 454. They were at Ruta N during two-and-a-half years, more than enough time to grow and expand and earn a place within the organization. In 2015, they showcased their own headquarters, compared to those of Google in Silicon Valley. Swing chairs, bean bags and nap-worthy seats, massage room, board games, barbecue and coffee areas, along with other benefits that seek to retain engineers, web designers and experienced designers, among other professionals who make up the team today. Every month, the staff is reinforced with the entry of 16 or 18 people on average.

They found not only talent in Medellín, but a favorable environment, explains Esteban Molina, because although the free trade zones can be very attractive for companies looking to expand, industrial parks and spaces such as Ruta N are helpful because they favor a physical area at a good price for those just starting. It also offers a good location. In the case of Ruta N, it is located in the so-called Innovation District and offers the opportunity to share a site with other companies that live similar processes, those who seek new markets and can become potential customers and suppliers. “At Ruta N, we found the opportunity to develop something for someone. We were able to hire people we met there. We also saw stories of failures and learned from all that was happening.”

“What I like about ACI, is that they never forget. They do not just bring companies and feel that their work is done. They maintain the relationship, accompany and follow up hand-in-hand,” explains the head of the Medellín operations. He has already faced the difficulty for some clients to accept the development of projects by the team from this city, but thanks to Globant’s work, their reputation, and with the help of ACI Medellín, these clients have modified the idea they originally had.

Continue to grow

Comparison of Globant with Google is not a coincidence. The British airline that believed in them recommended them to Google and they soon became one of their suppliers. Then came other brands such as Fox, Coca-Cola, American Express, BBVA, Petrobras, Santander, Mercado Libre and Money Gram, among others, who have acquired their services. As such, Medellín’s office has become a fundamental part, because many of the products to some of the most important clients of the company are resolved from here. Even the short-term expectation is to double employees in Medellín and reach 900 to continue meeting the needs of companies around the world.

In 2014, what the four friends never dreamed of for Globant in that bar happened for real. They rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, the prestigious Wall Street securities exchange. That day, they became one more technology company in the world’s largest market, but not a company like any other, quite unique. One that has grown in small towns surrounded by universities, where talent is being created, in highly innovative environments and with major interest in technology.

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Whirlpool, un aliado del desarrollo de Medellín

Whirlpool, an ally in local development

Two years ago, the world’s leading appliance brand established a partnership with Industrias Haceb to open the first washing machine production plant in Colombia and the Andean region. When a company like Whirlpool is looking for a new place to invest, countries will compete to be chosen and gain the funds and benefits of that investment. Such benefits include economic and social development, better quality of life, international positioning and increased visibility for the chosen country and city.

Two years ago, the world’s leading appliance brand established a partnership with Industrias Haceb to open the first washing machine production plant in Colombia and the Andean region. 

One of the reasons why Whirlpool decided to invest in Colombia, and specifically in Antioquia, was the strategic position the country has in the Andean region and Central America, as well as its human talent and experience, which is exemplified in Industrias Haceb. As Alejandro Toscano, Government Affairs & Communications Manager of Whirlpool Latin America, explains, “this is one of the main conditions a company looks for when investing, because you cannot carry out an investment without skilled labor to move it forward.”

In addition, Haceb’s industrial park (Haceb is a leader in the Colombian home appliance market) and the existence of access roads for adequate logistics leveraged the investment of this multinational company, which in Latin America had only previously had a washing machine plant in Brazil.

Fernando Szewkies
Fernando Szewkies, CEO of Haceb Whirlpool Industrial S.A.S..


A 50/50 partnership

Industrias Haceb and Whirlpool signed a joint venture agreement for the production of washing machines. The Colombian company provided the local knowledge and acquisition of human talent and the multinational corporation the experience and the technological development for manufacturing washing machines. The production equipment was imported from Spain, Italy, the United States, and Japan, which means the new plant, located in the municipality of Copacabana, has the best technology. The partnership was completed via the incorporation of the company Haceb Whirlpool Industrias S.A.S. which had an investment of USD50 million. Fernando Szewkies, the company’s CEO, explained that the alliance is purely industrial—the plant produces about 70 models of washing machines for both brands—because in the market they remain competitors. Each partner has their own strategies and commercial teams. Currently, the joint company exports high-tech and superior quality washing machines to 17 Caribbean, Central and South American countries.

A job opportunity

Foreign investment in a city brings new job opportunities for its people. The Haceb-Whirlpool company has generated nearly 200 direct jobs (around 50% are women) and more than 1,000 indirect employment opportunities through its providers and the supply chain.

However, this is not just about hiring new employees; they must be prepared and trained to understand the production standards of the company and know how to fulfill their job responsibilities. Everyone who enters must therefore first attend the Escuela de Destrezas (in English, Skills School), “an investment we make to ensure we have the best employees and thus, together with the technology we have, achieve the best quality and highest productivity and efficiency standards,” says Szewkies. This also demonstrates the partners’ interest in offering their employees the best working conditions and generating loyalty, a sense of belonging and motivation to grow together and work to develop and strengthen the Colombian industry. “We challenge ourselves to do things better and better. Even though we already have very good indicators in quality, productivity, the environment, safety and health, we know that we can keep improving. Continuous improvement is the cultural foundation of this company,” concludes Szewkies.

The partnership’s achievements

In two years of operation the Haceb- Whirlpool washing machine plant has achieved national and international recognition for its quality, innovation and actions to reduce the environmental impact of its operations. It has also been recognized for exporting the latest washing machine technology to 17 countries and for its constant search for new markets. This benefits both partners: on the one hand, Haceb was able to enter into washing machine production backed by a company with 106 years of experience in the manufacturing of such appliances and, on the other hand, Whirlpool opened a modern and strategic plant for the Latin American market that operates thanks to the commitment and willingness of local human talent that quickly adapted to the company’s global quality standards.

Building a network

The Red de Ensamble (in English, Assembly Business Network) is an alliance of six local companies to promote the development and competitiveness of Medellín’s manufacturing sector. The network attracts national and international suppliers and relevant technology, in addition to creating tailored human capital. Industrias Haceb is part of this network. ACI Medellín has a coordinating role within the network: it suggests and generates pertinent and strategic meetings for its members, provides them with support and manages various events to show the benefits of the city and its industrial wealth.

In order to have foreign investment in a city, both the needs of the investing company and the conditions the city offers, for example, the human talent of its inhabitants, are taken into account.

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Medellín builds trust

Twenty-five years ago, we were the most violent city in the world. Today, we are a benchmark for transformation. Our people took control of their territories and, thanks to a joint effort among all sectors of society, including organizations such as ACI, we have achieved a city that, despite its many challenges, we are proud of. 

Medellín is the protagonist of a great transformation process. We acknowledge our past, but we are looking to the future with conviction. We know we’ve come a long way, but above all, we are aware that much remains to be done. We had to live through one of Colombia’s largest migrations from the countryside to the city, as well as violence few places in the world have experienced. But that story is what made us strong and it is what has allowed us to build our present and to dream of a future in which all our people have the necessary guarantees for a happy life.

We are a city of infinite possibilities, a city that reaffirms its commitment to go far and beyond together with the participation of citizens, public institutions, private companies and universities. Thanks to institutions such as the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín, ACI, we have created bridges; we have built relationships; we have managed processes of cooperation to support the implementation of the city’s development plan and we have acknowledged our own story of hope, strength and resilience.

Today we continue working to strive for a Medellín that is safe, competitive, innovative, sustainable and suitable for business, and to achieve this, we are working on a model of governance based on citizen trust. A city we can trust, is a city that works, because everyone gives their best and receives what they expect. During this process, we have built a long-term vision, we take risks and transform our territories for the welfare of the people.

We are essentially trying to positively impact the lives of communities. That’s why we intend to carry out the “Plan Maestro del Centro” (Master Plan for the city’s Downtown), which has fundamental environmental and urban components in order to recover this major city zone. Also, the “Metrocable Picacho” project will allow us to connect the population of the northeastern hills to the rest of the city in less time and far cheaper than today. In addition, our comprehensive security and coexistence strategy allows us to guarantee the tranquility of our people. In this endeavor, we aggregate the efforts we have made in education and employment such as the 1,441 children who were outside the school system and have now been re-enrolled; also, we will award 10,000 higher education scholarships, an offer created together with the private sector to ensure its relevance. We have also taken the institutional employment needs to the neighborhoods of the city, benefiting more than 70,000 people.

In Medellín, we are trying to be an engine that boosts Colombia’s growth and we expect that by walking together, as we have done during these first 15 years of ACI, we will continue improving the human development index of our citizens. This joint effort is due to the union of everyone’s wills, as well as, because of the visit of representatives and international executives who have lived and felt our change and have share it with the world.

“If we have a city we can trust, we have a city that works, because everyone gives their best and receives what they expect.”

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Fifteen years weaving ties with the world

In the cycle of life for Latin Americans, the celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday represents the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. During those early years, the bases for the future are established. At that age, we all have some certainties, yet we also reinvent ourselves, retaining several characteristics and modifying others, all of the above aiming to adapt ourselves.

That same path has been traveled by the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area. It was born, established with the initial objective of acting as the agency for the creation of relationships. It was also conceived for the purpose of managing resources for cooperation, and it did so for many years. However, with a changing environment and as a result of a judicious understanding of the city and its needs, the Agency comprehended its vocation should be complemented. That is how the purpose of attracting foreign investment was born. Today, that attraction represents a far greater income than those resources from cooperation.

In recent years, the work of the Agency has focused on building bridges, establishing relationships and managing cooperation processes to support the projects of Medellín’s development plan. It has also served to ness, with great human talent and one having a favorable environment to facilitate the growth of cooperation and investment.

ACI Medellín has been instrumental in the transformation process of the city. It has been commissioned to show the world that this is a city with a complex history but able to recover and move away from violence, fear, insecurity and deep inequalities in search of equity and sustainable development. But above all, ACI has been instrumental in enabling Medellín to be recognized as a city that reinvents itself from its past and now wants to be viewed as a territory that pledges on innovation.

For this purpose, the work of the Agency has been one of filigree. It has acted as a weaver of wills that come together to form a framework that supports the city, transforming it in the eyes of the world. All of this has served to strengthen the city’s capacities, promote its development and impact the lives of citizens. During these fifteen years, we have managed to launch international cooperation projects for USD83 million and we have attracted USD1,6 million in investment with a significant number of semiskilled and highly qualified employment opportunities.

We know that the results are not random, but are the consequence of careful work and maturity reached by ACI Medellín during these past fifteen years. We want to share all these achievements in this publication we have called “15 years, 15 stories.” Inside this magazine, we are sharing our achievements, the path we have traveled and the traces we have left in this city.

With fifteen years, we feel we are ready to meet the challenges of the city. While we have managed to bring the world to Medellín and the city to rest of the world, we understand, as in the life cycle of a human being, this is the beginning of a new phase, one having many challenges. The biggest challenge is to coordinate efforts with the private sector, academia and social organizations in order to generate projects and initiatives that will contribute to the internationalization and development of the city and the region.

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