Dr. Pedro Martinez-Clark presented our proposed Colombia Life Sciences Initiative to the Colombian Ambassador to the United States —Colombia will be Latin America's life sciences innovation star

Colombia's vision by 2025 is to become one of the top three innovative countries in Latin America by promoting human capital for the knowledge economy, research and development (R&D) and innovation; and by raising awareness of science, technology and innovation in the Colombian society. The initiative seeks to attract foreign innovative life sciences startups to Colombia by offering them R&D funding and a generous 175% capital allocation tax deduction.

Pedro Martinez-Clark and Juan Carlos Pinzon Bueno (Colombian Ambassador to the United States)

San Francisco, CA. December 11, 2015 - Dr. Pedro Martinez-Clark, Interventional Concepts' founder and chief medical officer, met on Wednesday, December 9 with the Colombian Ambassador to the United States, Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, to present Interventional Concepts' proposed initiative to the Government of Colombia to attract innovative life sciences (including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical diagnostics, medical devices and bioinformatics) foreign startups to Colombia by leveraging on the country's current multi million dollar financial support offering for life sciences and healthcare-related projects —in the form of grants currently offered by Colombia's COLCIENCIAS (Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation). Ambassador Pinzón vowed its support for the proposed Colombia Life Sciences initiative and promised to act as a catalyzer within the Government of Colombia to make it a reality.

COLCIENCIAS currently offers Colombian-based companies several million dollars in R&D funding to support Science, Technology & Innovation (ST&I) projects, a generous 175% capital allocation tax deduction for investments and donations related to R&D, and a 16% sales tax exemption on imported equipment —among other incentives. The proposed Colombia Life Sciences Initiative is being proposed by Interventional Concepts, Inc. —a leading Miami, FL-based product development company exclusively focused on closing the life sciences medical innovation gap between rich countries and Latin America. The initiative seeks to extend COLCIENCIAS' current generous R&D incentives to foreign life sciences startup companies that are looking for a cost-effective and ethical place to conduct human clinical research. In exchange, Colombia would require foreign life sciences startups to incorporate and have a legal presence in Colombia, to conduct clinical research in humans in a Colombian research center, to hold meetings with local Colombian investigators to present non-confidential information about their innovation, and to share publishing rights with the Colombian investigator who is chosen as principal investigator for the human study that the foreign startup is seeking to conduct in Colombia.

Colombia is betting on innovation as a cross-cutting component for the transformation of products and services that generate added value and skilled employment. For that reason, the Government of Colombia has included innovation as one of the driving engines in its 2014-2018 National Development Plan. Colombia's 2015-2025 National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation calls for its R&D industry to increase its international exposure. To comply with that mandate, the country —among other actions— will seek to execute cooperation alliances with leading life sciences countries and institutions, to attract foreign Ph.Ds to Colombia's research centers and to send Colombian investigators to complete their Ph.Ds in leading global academic institutions, and to organize and support international life sciences academic events.

The Colombia Life Sciences Initiative's will help enhance Colombia’s ability to generate, disseminate and apply knowledge in order to realize productivity gains. The initiative will support the high-order objective of enhancing the competitiveness of Colombia’s economy and achieving sustainable growth by increasing firms’ productivity, adding value to production and diversifying the export base. Since 2010, Colombia has been working with the World Bank under a $41.5 million project titled Science, Technology, and Innovation Project for Colombia with the objective to: (i.) strengthen COLCIENCIAS' ability to promote human capital for the knowledge economy, R&D, and innovation; and (ii) raise awareness of science, technology, and innovation in Colombian society.

Colombia, strategically located close to the US and on the same EST time zone, has become a Latin American powerhouse. "Colombia: from failed state to Latin American powerhouse. In the shadow of a violent and drug-fuelled past, business confidence is growing in Colombia, a country that has been transformed over the past decade," said UK's The Telegraph in February 28, 2015. The country has become the most business-friendly and the leading reforming country in Latin America. With a GDP of 332 billion, Colombia is within the largest economies in the world, and one of the largest non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) economies. GDP per capita in Colombia had a threefold growth in just a decade. During the past five years, Colombia ranked second in terms of economic growth, among the largest countries in the region. Among the largest Latin American countries, Colombia has the highest forecasted growth rate in 2015. The leading rating agencies —Standard&Poor's, Fitch, and Moody's— have satisfactorily rated Colombia for its positive growth and sound fiscal management. Colombia was officially invited in 2013 to initiate the process to become full OECD member, and the country is implementing an ambitious roadmap to comply with OECD membership requirements. According to the OECD, “The OECD investment policy review examines Colombia's achievements in developing an open and transparent investment regime and its efforts to reduce restrictions on international investment.” According to the 2015 World Investment Report, Colombia remains as one of the top 20 destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI). Colombia has opened its door to world trade and now has access to more than 45 countries and 1,500 million consumers through its network of trade agreements. There are now over 450 expansion operations overseas driven by 123 Colombian companies that have undertaken an internationalization process through investment abroad.

In order to achieve and sustain long-term growth, Colombian firms must increase their productivity. Long-term investments in ST&I can contribute to this goal. Theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that the realization of sustained productivity growth is contingent upon increasing knowledge generation and absorption. Colombia has intensified its support to ST&I in the past two decades, but still lags behind in the knowledge economy, according to the World Bank. Innovations experts agree that country programs that combine incentives for innovation along with resources to augment human capital should fuel rapid economic growth more than anything else society can do to promote prosperity. The Colombia Life Sciences Initiative focuses explicitly on increasing the rate of local innovation by encouraging more R&D in the local life sciences sector by attracting foreign startups and helping them convert basic research into marketable products and services. New growth theory posits that this activity is the very fountain of economic growth.

The Colombia Life Sciences Initiative has two high-level objectives framed on the overall vision to transform Colombia into Latin America's innovation star: 1) Strengthening human capital and promoting social diffusion of knowledge. The initiative will strengthen Colombia’s capacity to: (i) increase the stock of advanced human capital and promote its insertion in research institutions and local companies; (ii) develop advanced competencies in life sciences innovation; and (iii) increase awareness of science, technology and innovation and social diffusion of knowledge; and 2) promoting pertinent research and stimulating innovation in the private health sector. This initiative will seek to (i) promote research in the local health sector; and (ii) stimulate local innovation by providing incentives for foreign startups to conduct R&D in Colombia and work alongside with the local talent pool.

Colombia offers a robust R&D-related human clinical development environment. The National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute, INVIMA, has established strict requirements to ensure patient safety and quality of clinical research. INVIMA certifies each site — and audits them randomly— in Good Clinical Practices following The International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) guidelines. Despite INVIMA's rigor, the country bolsters one of the fastest approval and importation processes; in addition to an ample patient pool (50 million population with universal health care) and very competitive costs. Thanks to this initiative, the life sciences innovation industry will have access to over 120 ICH/GCP-certified research centers in Colombia.

Interventional Concepts and PROCOLOMBIA's Marca Pais —Colombia's investment and export promoting agency and country brand— signed an alliance in October 2014 to promote Colombia's brand to the life sciences industry with the goal of promoting the country's outstanding human clinical research capabilities.