The Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI) has signed an agreement to launch an “AI Center of Excellence” in Medellín. The location, which will be the first of its kind in Colombia, will look to develop talent that can advance the business applications of technologies including AI and robotic process automation (RPA) as a part of Ruta N’s new “Digital Americas Pipeline Initiative” (DAPI).
Photo: Ruta N technology and innovation complex in Medellín, Colombia. (Photo credit: Ruta N)
IRPA AI, which was founded in 2013 and officially announced the initiative at its annual Automation Innovation Conference this week in New York, signed a memorandum of understanding to open the center with Ruta N, a publicly funded company that seeks to promote economic growth through the technology and innovation.
The two organizations stated that they will work together to combine “IRPA AI’s membership network, trusted relationships, training, and certification capabilities” with the “cost-effective technology talent pool in Medellín” to develop “trained, experienced, and certified RPA and AI professionals on demand and at scale.”
Frank Casale, founder of IRPA AI, says that setting up the center in Medellín, a city of around 2.5 million people with a growing startup culture, helps solve the industry’s “greatest challenge.” In his eyes, advancing artificial intelligence and RPA is now about finding high-quality talent more than about the logistics of developing technology.
“This is the first initiative of its kind to address this challenge, while creating scalable and affordable talent from a trusted, time-zone-friendly source,” said Casale, highlighting Medellín’s Eastern Time zone location, which sets it apart from places like India and Eastern Europe in terms of working in real time with U.S. companies.
Procuring financing has been one challenge for startups in Medellín, which lacks the legacy of venture capital interest that is more easily accessible in areas like Silicon Valley, Boston, or Toronto. As another benefit of the initiative, Alejandro Franco, executive director at Ruta N, cites the increased opportunity for “funding between North and South America” to add “economic fuel” and create “highly sought-after employment opportunities” in Colombia.
Moreover, he believes that launching this center now will put the city ahead of other countries in the region in terms of kickstarting the automation and artificial intelligence industry. “IRPA AI’s expansive global network and technology expertise will help anchor Medellín as the RPA and AI hub of Latin America,” said Franco.
Ruta N also says that this new initiative will “serve as an anchor for a new Business Development Center” that will promote collaboration among the various companies and academic institutes in the city that are working in areas including the Internet of Things, biotechnology, general research and development, and Medellín’s “Smart Capital Network.”
Elkin Echeverri, director of planning and prospective at Ruta N, highlighted that automation and artificial intelligence are emerging as technologies that will change the future of work and society at large. While some public officials across the world fear the loss of jobs that will hit some sectors as automation proves better than humans at completing repetitive tasks, Echeverri believes it is better to embrace the inevitable disruption and start preparing now by developing the new industries of the future.
“We want AI to be a new source of high-quality jobs and income for our people instead of a new source of inequity and concern for the city,” said Echeverri.
This sentiment is shared by Felipe Jaramillo, president of ProColombia, the governmental agency that promotes foreign investment and overall business development in Colombia.
“This is amazing news for Colombia,” said Jaramillo. “Betting on AI represents significant advantages for the development of solutions that will allow Colombian and foreign companies to obtain or maintain competitive advantages. This alliance promotes knowledge and technology transfers as well as job creation and will boost R&D programs across the country.”
The Cooperation and Investment Agency of Medellin (ACI Medellín) is another of the stakeholders that has worked to bring the AI Center of Excellence to the city. It said that it will continue to support the initiative “by providing American companies with legal and operational guidance in Medellin, industry context, and key local connections.”
This article was originally published on Finance Colombia. It has been reprinted with permission.