WASHINGTON, July 15, 2010 — The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved $25 million in financing on Wednesday for the Science, Technology and Innovation in Colombia Project, aimed at improving human capital for the knowledge economy and for research, development and innovation. It is estimated that this project will benefit some 1.2 million people.
The initiative also seeks to improve the quality of services provided by the Science, Technology and Innovation Administrative Department (COLCIENCIAS, in Spanish) —an institution charged with coordinating all the players involved in these sectors.
It also seeks to improve the competitiveness and productivity of Colombian companies to ensure better access to global markets. To that end, it will link investments in science, technology and innovation to the National Competitiveness and Productivity Strategy and to the development of priorities for industrial sectors that fall under the Strategy for the Transformation of Production Capacity.
“To ensure that knowledge becomes a tool for development, Colciencias decided to strengthen the research field and the transformation of production capacity in Colombia with the support of multilateral banking,” said Juan Francisco Miranda, Director of Colciencias.
The project seeks to become a catalyst for change by increasing the contribution of the private sector through the provision of specific incentives for science, technology and innovation.
“We expect that once the project is over, Colombia will gain access to a series of resources that will enable it to make investments in science, technology and innovation that will have a substantial impact on its capacity to create, absorb and use knowledge for the benefit of its citizens’ quality of life,” said Gloria Grandolini, World Bank Director for Colombia and Mexico.
The project includes four components:
1. Strengthen the operational capacity and policy formulation at Colciencias through better organization, optimization of human resources and business processes, among other measures.
2. Improve the institutional capacity to promote human capital development through financing of investment pilots to promote the integration of PhD graduates in the labor market and create ties between Colombian scientists living in and outside the country, as well as making donations for innovative projects created by professors and students.
3. Strengthen Colciencias’ capacity to promote research and innovation.
4. Promote the spread of science, technology and innovation in mainstream society. This will be achieved by increasing awareness and disseminating knowledge among the public and private sectors. And by increasing Colciensias’ visibility within Colombian society.
The current operation is part of the long term dialog established between the WB and the government of Colombia, particularly in the fields of education and science, technology and innovation. To that effect, the institution will provide the global experience accumulated while developing and implementing strategies for those sectors.
In June 2009, the government of Colombia asked the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank to prepare two independent loans to support the implementation of its new science, technology and innovation policy. The loan approved today is framed within that request.
With respect to World Bank funding, the agency responsible for the execution of the loan is (COLCIENCIAS). This is fixed term loan with an 18-year maturity period and a 17.5 year grace period. The Front End Fee has been set at 0.25% of the total amount. The project is expected to end on December 31st, 2013.