Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in Colombia

In Colombia, the initiative to create a Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation -CTeI- has been discussed for more than 20 years; however, it has not been possible to concretize its execution. The creation of a CTeI Ministry means recognizing the strategic character of science and technology for the country. The political constitution of Colombia.

Today, when we are in a globalized world, where international competition is based on knowledge, science would gain national and international dimension if it became State policy. The current conditions of the country, particularly as we enter the post-agreement era, make it even more imperative for Colombian society to recognize the importance of science and technology in the construction of a new Colombia.

Colombia is a country with a high percentage of young people, extremely rich in biodiversity and natural resources that we must use intelligently for our benefit and to give them added value. We need to strive for sustainable cultural, social and material growth that allows us to reduce inequality and poverty. These purposes can only be achieved if we use science and technology as guides for our development.

The opening of Colombia at the international level with the different free trade agreements imposes many challenges on the national economy. Among them are improving productivity, competitiveness, flexibility and effectiveness in different processes, which, in a globalized world, can only be achieved if it has innovation in the development, production and marketing of its products and services.

A true transformation of the way and rhythm with which the national industry incorporates the new knowledge in its initiatives and competitive and growth strategies must be pursued; in other words, the industry must be able to adapt to the current trends and to the rapid technological advances that occur in the international environment, thus creating a new culture of development based on knowledge.

Improving productivity in a country like Colombia requires profound changes in educational structures at all levels, and substantial modifications in the structure of the science and technology system.

These changes will be possible if and only if there are State policies that are reflected in laws that guarantee the financing of science and technology in at least 2% of GDP in a maximum term of 4 years, and that this financing is sustained for 20-30 years, in such a way that the policies transcend the governments. Under these conditions, a national science and technology system can be clearly defined.

The creation of an entity responsible for science, technology and innovation with the highest hierarchy in the National Government, that is, a Ministry of CTeI, is indispensable to achieve the advances that the country requires in these areas and to respond to the challenges implied by the post-agreement.

The Ministry should promote basic or fundamental research and applied research to address the problems of the national industry, with approaches of global interest. Given that human resources in training and graduates at a high level will be an integral part of all the institutions of the system (including the Ministry itself), the relationship and articulation with the Ministry of National Education (MEN) must also be fundamental.

Today, not only is the articulation between different organizations not adequate, but also disorganized efforts are multiplied in the same way (for example, the Scientific Colombia program corresponds to the same scheme of financing of credit-scholarships and research projects of Colciencias), but without policy. Objectives, activities and strategies are confused.

The Ministry of CTeI should coordinate the functioning of the national science, technology and innovation system with two vice-ministries (led by scientists) that focus on the objective, independent and transparent allocation of resources.

A Vice-Ministry for Scientific Research and a Vice-Ministry for Innovation, Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship. In general, it is not a question of creating an alternative organism to Colciencias, the activities that today Colciencias carries out would be distributed in the different units that would have ministry.

One of the great difficulties that the proposal has is the distrust of scientists and citizens in general who believe that having one more Ministry in Colombia is to create more bureaucratic posts. In this sense, the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences has proposed that the administration of the Ministry should include researchers from universities and research institutes that would be designated and paid for by their institutions of origin.

Post Author: Marion A. Reece