“From City of Knowledge Foundation in Panama, we are supporting the design and development of knowledge clusters in the region in order to foster of innovation and technological development in Latin America”
- Eysel Chong, Knowledge Management
The concept of “knowledge cities” as we know them, was first used at the end of the 19th century to describe Industry Districts, understood as “socio-territorial entities characterized by the active presence of a community of people and a population of industrial companies“, according to British economist Alfred Marshall.
The concepts of innovation and knowledge were later incorporated into this idea with the definition of Scientific Parks described as “organizations directed by specialized professionals, whose objective is to increase the wealth of their community by promoting a culture of innovation and the competitiveness of their associated businesses and institutions based in knowledge“(International Association of Science Parks).
The Legislative Assembly of Mexico’s Federal District (Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal de México) includes a more humanistic approach, more focused on social development and defines Knowledge Cities as a space in which “public and private actors collaborate in the generation and application of knowledge in daily productive activities, which strengthens the competitiveness of the city and contributes to sustainable economic and social development .”
From this perspective, the City of Knowledge in Panama presents itself, seeking to be a space for the encouragement and promotion of knowledge and the creation of value, through the gathering and continuous interaction of actors linked to education, research and the development of technologies, as well as societies.
Since its creation in 1998, the City of Knowledge has become established as a knowledge management platform focused on enhancing the innovative and competitive capabilities of the users who share its campus, which has resulted in a high density of innovative companies, international and development organizations, as well as academic and research institutions. All this creating a living and successful community with the objective of generating new knowledge that will allow the economic growth and the sustainable development of Panama.
After more than 20 years working to consolidate its model, the City of Knowledge Foundation is beginning to deploy support in the development of similar models in other countries throughout the region, thus strengthening innovation and technological development in Latin America.
Since 2016, they have been working on the conceptual design process and the development of a strategic plan of a “City of Knowledge” in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, supporting La Fuente Business Group (GEL)’s Ciudad Nueva Santa Cruz project.
The goal is to create the District of Knowledge and Innovation (Distrito del Conocimiento y la Innovación), “a community that promotes scientific, technological and innovation activities in order to improve the quality of life, increase investment, as well to promote and create innovative companies and a greater productivity and competitiveness due to the intensive use of knowledge and technology” point out those responsible for GEL.
The City of Knowledge Foundation is working hand in hand with the Bolivian team to prepare a project defining the objectives, project partners and the actors that must be involved to guarantee success and sustainability.
The Knowledge District (Distrito del Conocimiento, or DCI) will focus mainly on health, the agro-food industry, logistics and education, and will involve different actors from civil society and the productive sectors that promote entrepreneurship, innovation, as well as scientific and technological development; such as universities, research centers and technology parks. “One of DCI’s objectives is to be a propelling instrument for Santa Cruz into the world,” says the Lafuente Group.
The development of this type of initiatives throughout the entire region will generate synergies and allow to share experiences that will help turn around the growth models of Latin America’s nations.