September 18, 2017
The quality and capacity of professionals in Information Technology (IT) and the high level of bilingualism have made Bogota the ideal destination for IT companies in Latin America.
Bogota has become an attractive pole in Latin America for IT companies that want to settle in the region. Although the capital city was already the national reference for IT, with the arrival in the recent years of foreign recognized software producers companies like Belatrix, Endava, Globant, Sutherland and Ticjob, Bogota is taking a main position in the international scenario.
The capital city offers specialized human talent with a high level of bilingualism, which is not easily found in other cities of the region. These factors, coupled with the lower operating costs and facilities for installing foreign investment, make Bogota a very attractive city compared to other Latin American destinations.
"Bogotá concentrates 83% of all revenues in the sector and has the best human resource to support business operations. In the processes that we have accompanied from Invest in Bogota we have noticed that the quality and offer of professionals that the city has is a decisive factor when making decisions", explains Juan Gabriel Perez, executive director of Invest in Bogota.
According to data from the Colombian Federation of Software Industry and Related Information Technologies, Bogota brings together 73% of the country's PhDs in IT and 51% of the magisters in the sector. In addition, as far as innovation is concerned, the capital houses 40% of the country's research groups. These characteristics make the human capital of the city an essential factor for developing IT projects.
In addition, there is an interest on the part of the Colombian State in promoting the study of IT-related careers, as demonstrated by the Digital Talent Program promoted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications in alliance with the Ministry of Education and ICETEX. This program, which will invest 320 million pesos (115,000 USD) between 2015 and 2018 in condonable credits, seeks to benefit 19,000 young people so they can study IT careers. The goal of the program is that in 2018 the country will have 19,000 IT engineers.
"I emphasize the quantity and quality of professionals in Bogota, most of them successful, looking for an international exposure. This preparation in the local market, the bilingualism and the desire to open borders allow us to find the talent we need", explains (the new spokesperson for Globant), an Argentine software developer who came to the country in 2010 and has since invested more than 2 million dollars in here.
"Bogota has an ideal and very attractive environment for technology companies that need to link young bilingual professionals in the IT area. In the city, we find well-trained human talent, experienced in all technological areas, dedicated and with good language capacities", says Fernando Covelli, general director for Bogota of Sutherland, an US professional services company for the technological sector settled in Bogota since 2015.
The high level of bilingualism that the labor force has in Bogota stands out as a key attraction for IT operations. The city concentrates 71% of the country's bilingual workforce and the number increases to 78% if the human talent dedicated to IT is evaluated. According to data from the Ispeak Program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, in 2014, 7 per cent of the country's population was accredited with A2 level of English and 2% with B1 level. It is expected that by 2018 35% of the population will be certified with A2 level of English and 8% with B1.
"We chose to establish in Bogotá because of its economic strength and financial maturity, the good bilingualism, the great potential of the IT sector and its excellent workforce, thanks to the quality of Colombian universities that graduate more than 17,000 professionals in IT and engineering each year. In addition, the city has an excellent location because, being in the center-west time zone, allows us to work smoothly with our customers in the United States and Europe", says Kumail Jetha, national manager for Colombia of Endava, a software developer based in London with offices in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and now Colombia. The company arrived in Colombia in 2016 with an initial investment of 1.8 million dollars, and due to the positive experience in this first year they decided to reinvest 2.7 million in 2017 and plan to have invested 10 million by 2020.
In this same line is Belatrix, an Argentine company that will invest three million dollars in the next three years. "The advantages of Bogota are the excellent quality and quantity of human resources for the IT sector, cultural similarity, ease of doing business, institutional support and proximity to our main market, which is the United States," says Fernando Restrepo Aguirre, vice president of marketing at Belatrix.
The establishment of international IT companies has attracted international service companies such as Ticjob, a Belgian company that arrived in Colombia in 2016 with an investment of 300 million pesos (108,000 USD), making it the first IT job portal from the country. Currently, they only serve the Colombian market, but expect to approach the Peruvian and Chilean market from their offices in Bogota.
"Colombia has many advantages. Firstly, it is a market that guarantees the legal security of companies, with a GDP and an ICT sector that grow more than the average of Latin America. In Bogota there are more than 70% of companies in the ICT sector, in addition to being a very well connected city in Latin America, which means it is a strategic point for our expansion in the region", comments Maximilien de Coster, managing partner of Ticjob.
About Invest in Bogota: Invest in Bogota is the private-public agency that, based on an international positioning strategy, actively promotes foreign investment in the city to generate business opportunities, progress, social and economic development for Bogota and Colombian people. Throughout 11 years of management, it has been cataloged by different institutions such as the World Bank (2009) and Site Selection Magazine (2015, 2016, 2017) as the best investment promotion agency in Latin America and the Caribbean. Invest in Bogota is the result of an initiative between the Bogota Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor's Office.