Cali’s Startup Ecosystem Landscape

By taking an active approach to ecosystem development, Cali’s startup ecosystem has become a fundamental part of Colombia’s startup scene and a strategic centre of innovation in the Andes region of Latin America. Cali is a city with an up and coming startup ecosystem, aimed at producing innovative tech development and forward thinking solutions to some of Colombia’s biggest problems. The Cali economy is based around agriculture, industry, and trade, but has a flourishing tech scene with coworking spaces like El Lab aimed at tech startups. Cali hosts regular startup events, and the local government also runs a number of initiatives to boost local tech companies and provide business mentoring.

The city’s desire to promote entrepreneurship is not isolated to coworking spaces, but also extends into many universities, encouraged by efforts of the local and national government. Almost every university in the city has spaces and an interest in promoting the innovative business ideas of students, such as ICESI University’s initiative Start-Upcafe.
The government has demonstrated a commitment to entrepreneurship on a wider national level with examples such as Bancoldex, a state-owned commercial bank that operates as Colombia’s entrepreneurial development and export-import bank, and Innpulsa, another government-backed entity which facilitates innovation, entrepreneurship and business development within Colombia.
The city is expected to soon follow in the footsteps of Medellín’s growth, and the Cali Chamber of Commerce is stepping in to help further push the city in this direction. With events and programs built to “Identify, promote and improve the skills of dynamic entrepreneurs in the region,” the community of tech talent and startups is continuously growing in Cali.

aerial view of city skyline

Funding opportunities and incentives for entrepreneurs in Cali

Two of the most prominent programs of the Cali Chamber of Commerce are Valle E (Acelera Región - Aldea) and Valle Impacta, programs focused on early-stage startups and scaleups, respectively.

Valle INN: An entrepreneurship program that provides advice and support to startups who are in the ideation stage of a business or that are just entering the market. This initiative has provided over a million dollars in seed funding and created more than 255 jobs.

Startup support facilities, coworking spaces and communities for entrepreneurs

person using macbook pro on brown wooden table Cali has a Technological Development Agency that solves business challenges called Reddi, which is based on specialized technological knowledge, promoting innovation and competitiveness.

The Creatic Technological Development Center is an education center and tech incubator that partnered with Coderise, a coding boot camp, to provide digital skills and programming training to hundreds of people in the city. This digital empowerment helps supply startups with a large pool of digitally literate workers ready to tackle coding tasks.

For digital nomads and entrepreneurs interested in visiting Cali, there is a variety of coworking spaces to choose from:

FRONTDESK offers physical and virtual offices, meeting rooms and other facilities besides a great location in the North of Cali.

Inspiro Workstation was designed and constructed as a working space for creative minds and industries.

Muelle Coworking has designed spaces to foster creativity and a network of partners with whom they coordinate educational and inspirational events.

Coworking Tequendama is first coworking space in the south of Cali with shared spaces and private offices, fully equipped conference room, a cozy social area open to the enjoyment of the vegetation and sun, and other services.

Yoffice - dynamic and innovative workspaces for diverse work teams. Their spaces are strategically located both in the North and in the South of Cali: Centenario Shopping Center and Unicentro Shopping Center, facilitating the daily transfer of users.

Morrison technologies LLC is at the strategic location in the city center. It offers open/dedicated desks at a cozy private office of a technology company working with small businessesand entrepreneurs locally and around the globe.

El Lab - Innovation and coworking center developing the ecosystem of the Colombian Southwest.

RíoCowork was born with the aim of providing an alternative to the demand of independent professionals, entrepreneurs and SMEs from different sectors, to share the same workspace, both physical and virtual, to develop their professional projects independently, but at the same time encourage joint projects.

Incubators and accelerators

INSITUBG is an accelerator for women’s entrepreneurship, specific populations (ETHNIC GROUPS, PwD, RURAL) and new economies, with experience in financial structuring and enlistment, business landing, scouting, commercial relations, fundraising processes and business consulting with a differential approach.

Valle Impacta is a business scaling program led by the Cali Chamber of Commerce and the Bolívar Davivienda Foundation, which transforms companies at the highest level in their different economic sectors, through support for extraordinary growth, in order to promote economic and social development of the region.

Acelera Region is the program that seeks to accelerate the growth of innovative early-stage ventures in the regions of Colombia. It focuses on ventures with the potential for rapid, profitable and sustained growth.

ParqueSoft is an incubator for marginalized individuals in Colombia and is led by innovators in digital art, science, and IT. The organization allows new entrepreneurs to learn skills and gain experience needed to succeed.

Talent pool

woman wearing academic cap and dress selective focus photography At the six universities located in the south of this city, all with standard quality certifications, graduate more than 6,000 professionals each year. At competitive salaries, international companies can find graduates with excellent preparation and talent in the service industries of technology and outsourcing.

Cali’s cost of living is more affordable than Medellín, and also a less competitive hiring market than nearby capital city Bogotá, making this an attractive location for hiring affordable and skilled engineering talent. The local talent market in Cali is known for having strong DevOps hires, and Cali’s globally ranked Universidad del Valle, Cali is fueling the talent pool.

Resources and Events

CEmprende: A space focused on strengthening entrepreneurship, where the university and the public and private sectors come together, seeking to promote the generation of employment in the region.

Tecnoparque SENA: Supports the development of innovative, technology-based projects to generate products and services that contribute to economic growth and competitiveness of the country and regions.

The Creatic Technological Development Center is an education center and tech incubator that partnered with Coderise, a coding boot camp, to provide digital skills and programming training to hundreds of people in the city. This digital empowerment helps supply startups with a large pool of digitally literate workers ready to tackle coding tasks.

Startup Grind Cali - a community whose mission is to inspire, educate and connect the new generation of entrepreneurs.

Tit@ - is the “Digital Education for All” Project Led by the Mayor’s Office of Santiago de Cali and its objective is to strengthen children and young people, teachers and teaching directors of Cali in XXI Century skills: Research, Entrepreneurship, Communication, Critical thinking, new Technologies and bilingualism.

Sistemas de Innovación - The Chamber of Commerce of Cali in alliance with Minciencias, the Government of Valle, ANDI and Fundación Universidad del Valle, joined forces to develop the program approved by the General System of Royalties called Innovation Systems in its IV version in the department of Valle Cauca, with the support of the consulting firm 10X Thinking.

Innpulsa - is an institution run by the national government to support and promote business initiatives with fast, profitable and sustainable growth. The focus is on detecting and overcoming the obstacles that hinder the growth of companies, working to break down the psychological barriers that limit the creative process and incentivizing the development of companies in the regions.

Main Strengths of the Cali Startup Ecosystem
    • High level of support for startups from the public sector;

    • 3rd most innovative startup ecosystem in Colombia;

    • Offers a network of 156 mentors and 164 consultants;

    • Startup projects and companies in their organizational challenges;

    • Zonamerica, located in Cali, is Colombia’s first free trade zone dedicated to services and technology;

    • UNESCO recognized Cali as the first creative city of digital arts in South America;

    • Cali has the fifth best university in Colombia;

Ecosystem Milestones

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