Institutionalization of a Center for Digital Public Innovation in Colombia



Colombia, as many other countries around the world, realized that it could not solve its social, economic and environmental problems through conventional approaches. To tackle this issue, the United Nations and the government of Colombia came together to implement a new project on innovations for public service delivery, including through ICTs. The Center for Digital Public Innovation was founded in August 2013 with the support of the ICT Ministry of Colombia (MINTIC), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The purpose of the center was to strengthen the innovation capacity of public entities, making use of ICTs in the process of generating solutions to public issues. Although the UN Project, which launched the basis for the Centre for Digital Public Innovation concluded in 2016, the Centre became sustainable by operating as part of the Colombian Government’s institutional framework.  

The Center developed a strategy to work on both sides of the spectrum; first, with public entities, to strengthen capacities to develop innovation based on the needs of citizens; second, it worked with citizens, specifically with the private sector, academia, and civil society, to provide resources, connections, tools, and methodologies that create opportunities for social change. Based on the objectives mentioned above, the Center established four service lines to strengthen and invigorate innovation in Colombia:

  • An Agency of Knowledge: The Center recognizes knowledge as a vital resource to inspire innovation, and consequently it promotes applied research, reviews and documents case studies, good practices and lessons learned to nurture innovation.
  • Capacity Building: It seeks to strengthen the skills and competencies of different stakeholders so that they can produce more digital public innovations. The Center fosters capacities to innovate with technology and promotes models of a culture of innovation.
  • Innovation Exercises: The Center incubates novel solutions that make use of emerging technologies and solve problems related to the performance of the State and implementations of the SDGs.
  • Community and Alliance Management: The Center offers physical and virtual spaces to connect different stakeholders and support the creation of alliances to develop digital public innovation projects.