Construction is underway on a technological and scientific district that will occupy 114 hectares (280 acres) in the heart the northwestern Colombian metropolis, Medellin, part of efforts to consolidate its status as Latin America’s most innovative city.

medelin_colombia_tourismThe “Science, Technology and Innovation District” will be built in an area covering three neighborhoods on Medellin’s north side – home to 60,000 people – in a bid to coax large multinationals into setting up regional headquarters there.

Juan Pablo Ortega, managing director of the Ruta N corporation, which is developing the technology district, told Colombia.inn in an interview that the project marked a commitment to urban space and entrepreneurial talent and was aimed at “consolidating Medellin as the innovation capital of Latin America in 2021.”

In 2012, the City of Eternal Spring was chosen by the Urban Land Institute, the Wall Street Journal Magazine and Citigroup as the world’s most innovative urban area.

That area of Medellin was chosen because of the outstanding facilities available in terms of science, technology and innovation, including those offered by the University of Antioquia, the city’s largest with 38,000 students.

The city’s north side also is “a sector with the possibility for productive spaces, both entrepreneurial and social,” Ortega said, adding that it “has a network of medical centers that together have the largest number of hospital beds per square meter in Colombia,” as well as public-transport facilities.

For all of these reasons, Ruta N’s goal “is for multinationals to become aware of the advantages offered by Medellin and, without delay or trepidation, make the decision to come, establish a foothold and conduct business for the benefit of this capital and Colombia in general,” Ortega said.

Some companies have already taken the plunge, including U.S. information technology giant Hewlett-Packard and Swiss building materials titan Holcim, which have set up a Global Services Center and a regional Transactional Services Center, respectively, in the Ruta N building, which covers a 32,000-sq.-meter (344,000-sq.-foot) area.

In addition, “thanks to a strategy that favors foreign companies seeking to start operations in the city, we have attracted 14 other multinational companies that together have created 180 jobs,” Ortega said, noting that 30 others could make the move shortly.

Hence “the urgency of getting the district up and running to make way for firms in the health, energy and ICT sectors,” he said.