Medellín recently received global recognition as the world’s “Most Innovative City.’” The award, from the Wall Street Journal and the Urban Land Institute, recognized not only the city’s innovative businesses, but also its innovative strategy to overcome violence and reclaim neighborhoods. The city has a long history of turning challenges into opportunities. Medellín has been inventing new enterprises and ways of living since it emerged as a great industrial city in the late 19th century, overcoming geographic isolation to create major industries in textiles, concrete, food and energy production. These traditional industries remain important to Medellín.
Today, however, a new economy is emerging, based on digitally enabled production, communications and lifestyles. Advanced enterprises are networked rather than centralized, customized rather than standardized, and aim to deliver locally sourced products and services. In this model, innovation derives more from the bottom-up than the top-down. To compete, traditional industries must use new technologies to become more efficient and connected. At the same time, these technologies are giving rise to a whole new set of 21st century industries that demand new kinds of skills, resources and approaches to business development.
The Medellínnovation District will provide a space where traditional and new industries can converge in a creative cluster to invent 21st century products, ways of doing business and lifestyles. A key resource of the cluster will be the people who live and work in the District, primarily talented young people who will help Medellín to innovate its way into the new economy. For this reason, the development of an attractive, amenity-rich, digitally-enabled environment that includes opportunities for personal advancement is important to the business strategy, as are incentives for companies to locate and grow in the District.
Medellínnovation – the “New North” – is an ideal place for this creative cluster. Shaped by the neighborhoods of Sevilla, Chagualo and Jesus Nazareno, it is home to RutaN and several of Medellín’s most important research institutions, as well as recreational and cultural amenities such as the Jardín Botánico, Parque Norte, Parque Explora, Planetarium and Civic Auditorium, which attract thousands of visitors. It has already attracted 21st century enterprises in the ICT, medical, healthcare and pharmaceutical arenas, and advanced teaching hospitals have ambitious plans for expansion. There are sites available for research and development within the core of the District and for larger production spaces in a new Innovation Park across the river; as such, the District offers a great opportunity to consolidate a space that will become the heart of innovation in the city.
The District will create an environment in which the people who make up the innovative ecosystem can work, live and interact. Underlying the plan is a network of parks, public spaces and pedestrian-oriented streets that will create an open, healthy and productive environment. Carabobo becomes the “main street” for major companies as well as the shopping and social life of the District. Research and educational facilities are clustered along a spine connecting University of Antioquia to the river. Finally, places to live and work – in new enterprises – are woven into the neighborhoods, with new facilities supporting public education, training and engagement anchoring the District.
See the latest progress of the Medellínnovation District here: www.medellinnovation.org/distrito
The Medellínnovation District, a project for RutaN and the City of Medellín; developed by Carlo Ratti Associati in collaboration with Prof. Dennis Frenchman, Michael Joroff, Jota Samper, Ricardo Alvarez Felix, Mobility in Chain, Accenture and Engram Studio.
Carlo Ratti Associati (project leader, urban and digital design): Carlo Ratti, Walter Nicolino, Sofia Cornejo Reindl (project leader), Jenni Young (project leader), Gary di Silvio, Monika Löve, Luis Mesejo, Alberto Bottero, Juanita Ballesteros
Prof. Dennis Frenchman, Leventhal Professor of Urban Design & Planning, MIT (urban and digital design)
Michael Joroff, Research Affiliate in the School of Architecture & Planning, MIT (business and economic development strategy)
Jota Samper, PhD Candidate, Department of Urban Design & Planning, MIT (project coordinator)
Ricardo Alvarez Felix, PhD Candidate, Department of Urban Design & Planning, MIT (urban and digital design, and business development strategy)
Mobility in Chain (transport planning and mobility strategy): Federico Parolotto, Pablo Forti, Anna Ramoni, Sabine Garrone, Tiziano Tricarico
Accenture (business and economic development strategy for intelligent cities): Simon Giles, Lauren Ing
Engram Srl (video): Paolo Zambrini, Thomas Arici, Riccardo Zema, Emanuele Ballardini