Country of the Month – Colombia

Colombia is a country situated in South America, with common borders with Panama on the northwest, Venezuela and Brazil on the east, and Peru and Ecuador on the south. [1] In recent years, its economy has experienced a constant but moderate annual GDP growth rate until the COVID 19 pandemic. According to the World Bank, Colombian economy contracted by 6.8% in 2020, with signs of recovery in 2021, thanks to state economic measures implemented by the state. [2] Colombia is still the fourth biggest economy in South America, with a GDP of 271 billion US dollars. [3] The most developed sector of Colombian economy is services provision, which amounts to 53% of the economy. [4]

Legal and Strategic framework as the base of AI development

The past couple of years, the Colombian government has introduced many initiatives in order to boost the development of the IT sector, innovation and technology sector. For example, as a part of his efforts aimed at improving the speed and quality of services delivered by public entities, as well as advancing digital citizenship, the Colombian president issued an Initiative in 2018, which describes the most significant projects of use and deployment of Artificial Intelligence systems in Colombia’s public sector. [5]

In 2019, The National Council of Economic and Social Policy (‘CONPES’) announced, that it had approved the National Policy for Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence, whose goal is to reduce the barriers that currently block the implementation of digital technologies, by fostering innovation and encouraging the growth of technically skilled human capital. [6]

AI ecosystem in Colombia

Lately, the city of Medellin became a regional center for AI development, with many important initiatives and investments. The most important initiative is the cooperation established between the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI) and a private company Ruta N, which resulted in the foundation of the “AI Center of Excellence” in Medellin. The main goal of this cooperation is to develop a talent pool with specific knowledge of AI technology, which would at a later stage benefit the fields of business, research and innovation in the country. [7]

Furthermore, Ruta N is running a scouting and training program called “Medellin Digital Talent”, which has set a target of at least 52,000 people with specialized IT skills by 2023. [8] In 2019, entrepreneur Andrew Ng announced that Medellin became headquarters for three of his companies Landing AI,, and AI Fund [9]. Finally and perhaps most importantly, Medellin is home to the World Economic Forum’s Latin American Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. [10]

Aside from Medellin-based enterprises, there are many successful startups in Bogota as well, which contribute to Colombia’s reputation as a regional leader in the field of AI. One of those startups is Demetria, an Israeli-Colombian startup specializing in agricultural and food technologies, a platform and near-infrared (NIR) sensor system, which can determine the taste and quality of green coffee beans at any stage of the supply chain. [11]

Societal benefits

Perhaps the best example of societal benefit in direct relation to use of AI in Colombia is the case of the Minorista market, which teamed up with researchers at the University of Antioquia to install AI-based facial recognition technology to control the COVID19 virus at markets. The system would alert market security, if it found that someone had high temperature or didn’t wear his/her mask properly. [12]

Into the future

So far, Colombia has demonstrated how a coordinated regulatory approach with the purpose of attracting investments and fresh initiatives can be beneficial, especially in areas of IT, innovation and other technologies. In that sense, it can serve as a positive example for other countries. It still remains to be seen whether the nurturing of talents in the area of AI can be sufficient to sustain and advance further the AI ecosystem in the country, would reverse the construct going from small to big, from the country’s economy to the global market.

Written by Bogdan Banjac, R&D Officer


[1] “Colombia,” Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., June 22, 2021),
[2] “Overview,” World Bank, accessed June 24, 2021,
[3] Marina Pasquali, “Latin America & Caribbean: GDP by Country 2020,” Statista, April 14, 2021,
[4] “Colombia GDP Growth Rate 2001-2021 Data: 2022-2023 Forecast: Calendar: Historical,” Colombia GDP Growth Rate | 2001-2021 Data | 2022-2023 Forecast | Calendar | Historical, accessed June 24, 2021,
[5] “OECD AI Policy Observatory,” OECD AI Policy Observatory, accessed June 24, 2021,
[6] “CONPES De Transformación Digital Promoverá La Competitividad Del País y La Eficiencia Del Sector Público – CONPES De Transformación Digital Promoverá La Competitividad Del País y La Eficiencia Del Sector Público,” MINTIC Colombia 2020, accessed June 24, 2021,
[7] “Ai & Colombia : The Colombian Approach to the AI Revolution -,” Rebellion Research, May 12, 2021,
[8] Stephen Woodman, “Mexico and Colombia Recognize the Urgency of Artificial Intelligence,” Nearshore Americas, September 2, 2020,
[9] Andrew Ng, “AI in Latin America: Announcing Our First International Office in Colombia,” Medium (Medium, August 21, 2019),
[10] Stephen Woodman, “Mexico and Colombia Recognize the Urgency of Artificial Intelligence,” Nearshore Americas, September 2, 2020,
[11] Maya Margit, “Colombian-Israeli AI Startup Aims to Revolutionize Coffee Industry,” The Media Line, March 2, 2021,
[12] Megan Janetsky, “How a Colombian Market Is Using AI to Combat Covid-19 Outbreaks,” BBC News (BBC, July 18, 2020),