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These are the most innovative companies of 2023

Improves competitiveness and efficiency, boosts economic growth, helps in adapting to change, in customer satisfaction, in solving problems and in attracting talent. These are some of the benefits that companies obtain when innovating; nonetheless, in Colombia 65.5 percent of companies do not innovate.

This statistic, which corresponds to the Dane 2021 Technological Development and Innovation Survey, reveals a reality that for seven years Andi, in alliance with Dinero, has sought to transform the highlight those companies that do see the virtues of innovation and not just put it into practicebut they are increasingly betting on it as a business and sustainability strategy.

It is a lag that is essential to correct in the face of the global and local slowdown after an unexpected pandemic, as well as the pressing social needs expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Although innovation efforts in the country still have a long way to go, it is also a fact that Colombia has made progress in this field. Proof of this is the global innovation index, which is measured annually by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in which the country went from 67th place in 2021 to 63rd in 2022 among 132 economies.

Precisely, the greatest strength of Colombia in this global index lies in the sophistication of its companies and, in particular, in its decision to train employees for innovation. Also, because they import high technology, which allows them to make new developments.

On the contrary, the greatest weakness is found in human capital and research. One indicator values ​​the number of foreign students studying in local universities and in Colombia it is barely 0.2 percent of the total number of university students. Likewise, for the country, the average number of students that secondary school teachers must attend at the national level is a limitation.

Despite this, the Ompi ranking highlights Colombia’s progress in innovation and how it has climbed compared to its Latin American peers. In 2021, Colombia was the sixth best in the region and today it is the fourth, surpassed only by Chile, Brazil and Mexico.

In this progress, the private sector is the protagonist. This is demonstrated by the seventh edition of the ranking of the most innovative companies in the country, carried out by Andi in alliance with Dinero. In this, 250 companies were measured, belonging to 18 economic sectors, located in 15 departments.

These companies claim that Their main motivations to innovate are to generate value for their customers, increase salescontribute to the solution of social or environmental problems, create new markets and reduce costs.

“Innovation is the way to create a future, a better future for all, and we obviously depend on the current context, but also on what is going to happen next. Thus, we try to forecast what is going to happen. For example, this year, which we knew would have high inflation rates, one of the main objectives was to keep our costs competitive in order to also sustain the prices of our products,” explains Óscar Rincón, director of Innovation at Alpina, the company that this year was crowned as the most innovative in the country.

It specifies that, precisely, through innovations in technological processes, efficiencies in their production and logistics equipment, as well as in the new ways of reaching the consumer, they managed to preserve prices. “We don’t want to affect consumers more, but we also don’t want them to stop eating properly. Therefore, the important challenge is to maintain the affordability of positive food ”, he points out.

Following the SDGs

If the drive to innovate is analyzed from the point of view of the SDGs, the companies evaluated aspire, first of all, to comply with number eight, which seeks to promoting decent work and economic growth. Its second biggest motivator is SDG number nine, which it promotes industrialization, builds resilient infrastructure and fosters innovation.

“Each entrepreneur or each businessperson must put their lines on the route to define where they are going, so that they do not lose focus, because when there is no focus you can lose”, says Mauricio Vargas, CEO of Alsec, a disruptive company in the food sector and fourth in the ranking this year. “Today we believe that food not only satisfies hunger or nourishes. We believe that they can also cure and treat diseases, such as the case we had in a pandemic, when we found two molecules that inhibited covid-19 by more than 90 percent. All our research is aimed at taking advantage of the infrastructure that exists in Colombia, we are the most biodiverse country per square meter, we look for new food alternatives that correct the problems we are facing ”, he adds.

Likewise, Manuel Felipe Leyva Reyes, Vice President of Growth at Esenttia, assures that moments of crisis are also an opportunity to innovate. “By leveraging on it, perhaps we can turn the situation around and find the way, the path of growth, so that we generate employment, differentiation, and that Colombia is an increasingly attractive country seen from the outside and more people want to come to invest and to do business”.

Companies that stand out by region


When evaluating the results of the ranking, Alejandro Olaya Dávila, national manager of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Andi, explains that Much of this work is not done by companies individually, but in partnership with members of the science, technology and innovation (STI) ecosystem.. They also leverage international providers and institutions.

In addition, 56.67 percent of the top 30 companies invest more than 10 million dollars a year in STI projects. As a result of this investment, Olaya explains, 60 percent of the companies in the top 30 generate more than 10 million dollars in sales, while 23.33 percent of them have invested between 100,000 and 500,000 dollars in start-ups. or technology-based companies.

The sales and investments originated from the fact that 89.9 percent of companies launched new products or services on the market last yearfor a joint total of 4,357 innovations, of which 843 were destined for export.

From 2016, the base year of the first innovation ranking, to 2022, sales for this concept of participating companies have increased by more than 138 percent. In other words, for every 100 pesos sold in 2016, 10.6 were for innovation and last year it was 25.2.

system actors

Universities are the main allies of companies when it comes to innovation, since almost half of the companies analyzed (48.19 percent) allocate resources and people to work hand in hand with higher education institutions.

The majority investment for this purpose does not exceed 50,000 dollars, although there are 3.61 percent of the firms analyzed that allocate between 1 and 5 million dollars. It is worth clarifying that more than half of the companies evaluated are considered largebecause they sell more than 10 million dollars a year.

Although these figures could question the notion that in Colombia academia and companies follow divergent routes, the firms that collaborate with universities maintain that the main obstacle for this work lies in the investigation for the right partner, followed by the limitation of time and resources. financial, as well as the difficulties in reaching agreements on intellectual property.

And in an environment in which credit has become more expensive and many businessmen prefer not to risk money because the success of their innovation is not guaranteed, it is noteworthy that own resources are the main source of financing for innovative companies in the country. In second place, there are public resources, and in the third, tax deductions.

Of the top 30 companies in the ranking, only two are not of Colombian origin and in the top 5 there are three highly recognized (Alpina, Nutresa and Corona) and two that are gaining more and more space as key players in innovation: the paisa Alsec Alimentos Secos and the valluna Octopus Force, which is literally a factory of inventions.

Octopus Force is also the first if the ranking is made only among the SMEs that participated, and is followed by her countrywoman B. Altman, a supplier of ingredients and nutritional solutions.

Within this study there is another recognition, parallel to the one defined by Andi’s innovation experts: peer validation. When asking employers Which company do you think is the most innovative in the country? In the group of large companies, that honor goes to Nutresa; among SMEs, Alsec; and among the start-ups, the paisa Guane Enterprisesdeveloper of technological solutions for the fourth industrial revolution.

The stories of these companies, their achievements and their motivation to innovate are the focus of this special, which hopefully will also help increase the number of Colombian companies that say yes to innovation.

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