Today, Medellin, Colombia is becoming a powerhouse for innovation in South America. Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, was named the most innovative city in the world in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal and Citibank. The city was also host to the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Congress, an international entrepreneurship gathering of entrepreneurs, policymakers and ecosystem leaders.
Now Medellin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is gaining a powerful resource to support early-stage science and technology startups.
The Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative is the U.S. government’s flagship science and technology entrepreneurship program. Since 2014, GIST has been working with Colombian innovators through its GIST Boot Camp program. The program supports young founders through skills building, networking and mentorship. Three years later, GIST is taking its support of the Colombian startup ecosystem one step further, launching the first GIST Investors program in Medellin.
GIST Investors is a public-private partnership training program between the U.S. Department of State, private businesses, academic institutions and international organizations. The year-long program works with local, in-country investors to create sustainable investment networks and strengthen existing investment communities. The program includes in-country workshops and seminars that work to fill a funding gap often seen in emerging startup ecosystems.
The GIST Investors program in Colombia will be conducted in partnership with Ruta N, a local incubator and innovation driving force in Medellin. U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker announced the launch of GIST Investors at the November 2017 Smart Capital conference in Medellin, emphasizing the United States’ commitment to support entrepreneurship in Colombia.
“In the U.S. government, we try to strengthen the skills of young entrepreneurs and scientists all over the world with the GIST Network program, and that is how we grow economic opportunities,” Whitaker said.
“The fact that we chose Colombia to launch the GIST Investors programs speaks volumes to Colombia’s readiness for this initiative,” said Nate Rettenmayer, economic officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota. “We’ve successfully helped train their entrepreneurs, now we need to bring the next piece, which is Smart Capital and how do you connect entrepreneurs with capital to continue the development of their innovation ecosystem.”
During the first full day of GIST Investors, training topics included strategic deal sourcing and screening, discussion on the best places to seek out Colombian investors, how to create win-win partnership between investors and entrepreneurs, and how investors should approach science and technology startups.
The GIST Investors launch is a featured event of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017 and a Road to GES event. Global Entrepreneurship Week is an annual celebration of entrepreneurs all over the world lead by the Global Entrepreneurship Network. The 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be help November 28-30 in Hyderabad, India, focusing on bringing together innovators from India, the U.S. and around the world. GES is also the site for the GIST Catalyst pitch competition, which helps entrepreneurs elevate their pitch and showcase their startups on a global stage.