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Bogota, the IT nerve center of Latin America

September 21, 2017

Between 2008 and 2014, Bogota’s IT sector grew by 450%.

The seventh edition of Colombia 4.0 is to be held from September 20 to 23 in CORFERIAS, welcoming 60,000 people between visitors in person and live broadcasts, and the participation of 246 national and international speakers, it is the country's most important digital content summit. Events like this confirm Bogota’s position as a hub of the IT sector in Latin America. Proof of this is the arrival of international software companies such as developers Endava, Belatrix, Globant and Sutherland, who in recent years have chosen the city as their operations center for the region.

Of the 5,464 IT companies registered in 2015, 3,552 came to the capital, representing 65% of the IT companies in the country. In 2014 the sector generated revenue of USD 3.29 billion, 83% of which was in Bogota. Growth has been significant, since according to Invest in Bogota’s figures, the city has come from generating USD 600 million in 2008 to USD 2.7 billion in 2014. This represents an increase of 450% over a period of 6 years.

Colombia is now the fifth destination in Latin America for foreign greenfield investment in software and IT after Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile. Between 2006 and 2016 Bogota received USD 18.3 billion in foreign direct investment, and the number of foreign companies grew from 679 to 1,550, according to information provided by the Superintendent of Companies of Colombia.

Highly-qualified bilingual human capital, its strategic location in the region and the sector’s growth in recent years, are just some of the factors that make Bogota an attractive destination for foreign companies.

"We liked the quality and quantity of human talent in Bogota; we have found many successful professionals locally who were seeking international exposure. The preparation level of the local market, the desire to open borders and bilingualism have allowed us to find the talent we were looking for," says (Globant's spokesperson), an Argentinian software company that has worked with Google, Electronic Arts, Linkedin, Coca Cola and Sabre, and has now been in the country for seven years.

"Bogota has a really attractive environment for technology companies that want to take on young bilingual professionals in IT-related areas. There is also a significant experience in different fields of technology such as design, technical support and project management," says Fernando Covelli, National Director for Colombia of Sutherland, an American company that arrived in Colombia in 2015 and which specializes in process transformation and revitalization.

"The city has dedicated itself to growth in the IT sector and today is emerging as a center for the development of new technologies with potential for major growth. The arrival of mature and specialized companies is a sign of the interest it generates in companies developing projects in Latin America," notes Juan Gabriel Pérez, CEO of Invest in Bogota.

"Being in Bogota was a strategic move, because it gives us the opportunity to anchor ourselves in the region as a leading supplier of the IT industry. We're betting on developing business in the financial sector, where Bogota has very strong players. In turn, the Colombian market is constantly expanding, making it attractive for doing business," says Fernando Restrepo, Marketing VP of Belatrix, an Argentinian company that began operations in Bogota in February this year with plans to invest USD 2 million in the next three years.

Events such as Colombia 4.0 help present the work being carried out in the sector, the advances and new discussions; apart from being a showcase for companies to make themselves known, like the British software developer Endava, which will be present at the event. For those, like Endava, who arrived in the country in 2016 with an initial investment of USD 1.8 million and which is now working on a USD 10 million investment plan for 2020, the location of the city was essential when choosing it as the center of its Latin America operations.

"We chose Bogota for its US time zone, its proximity to the United States, the quality of its infrastructure and offices, excellent universities and technical colleges, availability of qualified IT employees and direct air links to London and major cities in the US," says Jetha Kumail, general manager of Endava Colombia.

The quality of human talent and the high level of bilingualism have been instrumental in turning Bogota into an attractive investment destination. According to FEDESARROLLO’s Study of Bilingualism in the Colombian labor market, Bogota concentrates 71% of the country’s bilingual workforce, according to figures from the Colombian Federation of Software and Related Computer Technologies Industry, 78% of all IT workers are bilingual.

About Invest in Bogota: Invest in Bogota is the private-public agency which, based on an international positioning strategy, actively promotes foreign investment in the city to generate business, avdancement, social and economic development opportunities for the people of Bogota and Colombia. During its 11 years it has been listed by various institutions such as the World Bank (2009) and Site Selection Magazine (2015, 2016, 2017) as the best agency at promoting investment in Latin America and the Caribbean. Invest in Bogota is the result of a joint initiative of the Chamber of Commerce of Bogota and the Mayor’s Office.