In order to achieve and sustain long term growth, Colombian firms must increase their productivity. Long-term investments in Science, Technology, and Innovation (ST&I) can contribute to this goal. Theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that the realization of sustained productivity growth is contingent upon increasing knowledge generation and absorption.
• Colombia has intensified its support to ST&I in the past two decades, but still lags behind in the knowledge economy. The issues that act as specific barriers to knowledge-based growth in Colombia are the following:
a) Overall low levels of investment in ST&I and Research and Development (R&D), with large gaps among regions. Colombia ranks below other Latin American countries in investment in ST&I activities, and particularly in R&D. Investment in science, technology and innovation in 2006 accounted only for 0.4 per cent of GDP, with R&D reaching only 0.16 per cent, significantly lower than neighboring Brazil, which spent three and five times those amounts respectively.
b) Lack of relevance of research and low collaboration between the private sector and knowledge institutions. Research is still highly concentrated in human and social sciences, with limited attention given to the areas of natural sciences and technology. In addition, universities still remain the key actors in research production, hosting more than 95 per cent of the research groups and employing the majority of the national researchers. There is therefore a lack of research that provides knowledge inputs to increase the productivity of the economy.
c) Weak innovation patterns and outputs: Very few large firms have in-house R&D departments, even though evidence has shown that this is an important factor for increasing innovation outputs. Compared to countries of similar size and level of income, Colombia also underperforms in patent filing and innovation in processes, products and practices tends to be scarce in firms of all sizes.
d) Need to strengthen sector leadership and integrate institutions addressing ST&I to ensure better articulated policies and greater impact on research and innovation investments and outputs.
Source: World Bank. 2009. Colombia - Science, Technology, and Innovation Project. Washington, DC: World Bank. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2009/11/11670449/colombia-science...