Bogota, Jun 13 (EFE).- The Colombian government pledged Tuesday to pay off “very soon” its debt with the Inter-American Development Bank’s Innovation Lab fund (IDB Lab), Finance Minister Ricardo Bonilla said.
“Colombia is one of the few countries that has not made the capitalization payment of the IDB Lab fund’s third phase,” Bonilla said at the opening of the second IDB Lab forum, a two-day event which is to end Wednesday.
IDB Lab, the innovation arm of the IDB Group, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary “in full evolution towards the first innovation hub” for development in the region, has raised more than $2 billion for 2,700 innovation projects since 1993 in collaboration with more than 1,500 partners in the region and around the world.
In addition to announcing the debt payment, the minister said that the laboratory’s goals should be “more ambitious” and the support of donor countries and the IDB “more relevant.”
Bonilla was disappointed by the low spending in Latin America and the Caribbean on research and development, which “does not reach 0.8%.”
In Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, the figure is around 3% of gross domestic product (GDP).
Regarding the organization’s “important challenges,” Bonilla spoke of “effectiveness” in development, “strengthening its institutional framework in terms of governance” and developing more regional projects where governments work “in a coordinated manner.”
He also insisted on having a “greater focus on gender” and ethnic minority groups, specifically “Afro-descendant, Raizal and indigenous communities.”
“The IDB Lab must become the IDB’s innovation center. It should take more risks and reach those populations, sectors, and territories where it is necessary to generate development opportunities, close social gaps, and fight poverty and hunger,” added the minister.
In this regard, IDB President Ilan Goldfajn pointed out that one of the “triple challenges” facing Latin America and the Caribbean is the need to “generate resources” to guarantee the “social services that the public is asking for,” as well as to lower the inequality indexes from 0.50 to 0.30.
Goldfajn believes it is solvable through innovation, saying “innovation generates ideas, ideas generate value, and value generates growth.”
INNOVATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
“The region needs entrepreneurs and seed capital to innovate and close social gaps, with a strong focus on climate change,” said Bonilla.
However, the speaker of one of the panels of the event and founder of the venture capital firm SOSV, Sean O’Sullivan, regretted that due to difficulties to access capital, there are “highly qualified” people who are not being employed in the region and find work in the United States. EFE