President Gustavo Petro presented the National Development Plan 2023 – 2026: 'Colombia world power of life', that marks the road map of the National Government for the next 4 years.

The National Development Plan establishes the policies, programs and projects that will be implemented in the coming years, in which science will play a key role. public policy for the Science, Technology and Innovation sector focuses on pillars to solve social, environmental and economic issues.

"Our great bet is that the Science, Technology and Innovation policy is based mainly on the focus of mission-oriented research and innovation policies, aimed at solving the country's great social, economic and environmental challenges", reported on Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Arturo Luna

This Development Plan is an ambitious project for the future of CTI in Colombia, in which priority issues such as energy transition, human right to food, health, development of the bioeconomy, recognition of natural, cultural and territorial diversity, total peace, among others, they will be approached from research and innovation through the active participation of the most remote municipalities in the country. 

As an exercise of socialization of the National Development Plan, the National Government, the National University and the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences held the Forum 'Towards the transformation of royalties into Science, Technology and Innovation'.

Representatives of the academy, the private sector, the public sector, researchers, the National Planning Department and the Ministry of Science participated in this space. During the presentation of the plan, they discussed fundamental issues such as financing, research and royalties, among others. 

CTI policy oriented in 5 missions 

The National Development Plan proposes dividing investment in Science, Technology and Innovation into 9 programs that are part of 5 major missions. 

This seeks greater coordination of research projects, which have clear objectives, with a cycle of innovation and involving different sectors such as health, agriculture, energy. 

The 5 missions were created from what was built and advanced with the Wise Men Mission and the distribution of royalties with CTI policy approved in the Conpes. 

The 5 challenges focus on: bioeconomy and territory, zero hunger, energy transition, health autonomy and science for peace. 

With this distribution, it is sought that there are research projects with a greater impact but that take into account local realities and the national commitment. 

For that, the processes of the research calls will be changed, focused on the territories but also on initiatives based on social challenges that can be addressed from Science, Technology and Innovation, and that are strategic projects that are addressed by more thematic lines. 

“Instead of making calls for research on the one hand, innovation on the other, and social appropriation on the other, we are going to make calls that finance comprehensive projects; Science, Technology and Innovation cannot be divided", points out Minister Arturo Luna. 

To this end, the National Government seeks to promote the creation of the National Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, which will be an entity attached to Minciencias with the purpose of specializing the execution of the Science, Technology and Innovation policy and strengthening its financing. 

Greater investment: where will the resources come from?

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is the ministry with the lowest budget, and with this government it will not be the exception. However, as Minister Arturo Luna explained, a strategy is being developed that allows resources to be distributed more easily and equitably. 

“We seek to avoid the atomization of resources, we are the ministry with the lowest budget according to the General Budget of the Nation, but still had 33 programs that atomized all the money that arrived with minimal impact. For this reason, we decided to reduce it to just 9 programs that are part of 5 large missions”explains Minister Luna. 

Biennial Plan of CTI Calls
Image: Minciencias.

Working in conjunction with the National Planning Department, It is sought that in addition to the General Budget of the Nation these projects can be financed with royalties, especially in the territories.

The goal is that the money is distributed in a better way according to the calls and needs of each region. Likewise, look for other sources from which the CTeI can leverage itself. 

For the government, the formula to achieve more investment is: General budget + royalties + tax benefits with the redirection of more science and technology projects that are the door to work with disruptive innovations from the private sector + venture capital funds (Bancoldex) + international cooperation. 

This project is long-term, and the idea is that in turn investment in R&D+I which ultimately evaluates Colombia's investment in Science, Technology and Innovation worldwide to have a significant increase. 

Investment is currently 0,29% of GDP, according to Minister Luna, by 2026 an increase of 1% is sought. Meanwhile, the adequate investment of royalty resources will allow progress in the goals that the government has. 

Appropriate use of royalties in CTeI

Precisely when talking about royalties, we are talking about the formulation of projects from the regions. This is evidenced in the results of the National Innovation Index and competitiveness that demonstrates the gaps between departments and cities. 

But gaps are also evident between sectors. In Colombia, research and innovation is focused on the academy, but it requires greater participation of researchers from the private, regional and business sectors

"Science and technology cannot be alien to the country's productivity", affirmed the governor of Huila, Luis Enrique Dussa, during the panel Investment of CTI royalties in Colombia. 

The department of Huila is an example of how coffee and agricultural production projects are being integrated with science and technology through royalty resources. 

National CTI Development Plan
Image: Minciencias.

"We want large projects to be carried out from the regions in order to better distribute the resources of the royalties”, pointed out Pamela Fonrodona, Royalties Coordinator of the Ministry of Finance. She explains that since 2012, with the reform, these resources have been distributed much better according to the needs of each department. 

In terms of Science, Technology and Innovation, since 2012, the distribution of 6,3 billion pesos in royalties for the sector has been achieved. The government plans to enter 2022-2032 an annual investment of 1,2 trillion pesos is achieved.

To achieve this goal, an institutional change is required in the process of presenting research projects, “We need to change the logic of project formulation, execution and monitoring”, affirms Tania Guzman, Deputy Director General of the DNP Royalty System, hence the importance of prioritizing the program through the 5 missions and changing the current system of calls.

“We seek to reduce territorial, ethnic and gender gaps in Science, Technology and Innovation. In addition, we want public policies and regulations to strengthen national and regional capacities. For example, through the development of a strategy to strengthen research, technological development and innovation infrastructures”added Minister Luna during the presentation of the National Development Plan. 

The project is already in the hands of Congress to be debated in detail. For now, the sectors, academia and civil society entities have shown their support for this new investment strategy in STI. 

Main Photo: Presidency