Competitiveness Technology and Innovation
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Supporting innovation is not a luxury of advanced economies, but rather a key reason of why these countries are more prosperous. In the case of emerging countries, innovation has been one of the main components of its accelerated development. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through its Competitiveness, Technology and Innovation Division, provides funding, technical assistance and knowledge products to support governments in key action areas.

IDB programs in these areas incorporate common themes, such as training in science, technology and innovation for advanced human capital; strengthening scientific and technological infrastructure; designing public policies to promote innovation; and strengthening institutional capacity of the agencies and ministries that are responsible for implementing these policies.

Key areas of action


Economic growth depends on private sector investment in innovation and new technologies.

Along with the public and private sector, we support the development of innovation processes in companies and promote incentives for firms to increase their investments in innovation and technological development. We also work to improve firms’ capabilities in quality management, technology transfer, intellectual property and technology absorption. The goal is for companies to become more productive, to contribute to the creation of quality jobs and to compete in international markets.


Discover the lessons learned in 50 years of public policy research aimed at fostering a knowledge-based economy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Highlighted IDB publications

• Firm Innovation and Productivity in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Engine of Economic Development (English | Spanish)

• Innovation and the New Service Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean: Challenges and Policy Implications (Spanish)

• Science, Technology, and Innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Statistical Compendium of Indicators (English | Spanish)


IDB projects in this area

• Argentina: Technological Innovation Program III

• Paraguay: Support for the Development of Science, Technology and Innovation Watch related video

• Panamá: Fostering Innovation, Scientific Research and Advanced Human Capital

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Technology and innovation are becoming key tools to improve equality and to address the most important social challenges.

Solutions to social problems should not arise by chance, but by design. Therefore, we support public and private sector organizations in the generation, implementation and dissemination of high-impact social innovations. We do so through processes that involve the participation of stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines. We emphasize the inclusion of final beneficiaries in identifying and prioritizing their problems, as well as in implementing and scaling solutions. We promote the use of technologies and other collaborative methodologies to facilitate the coordination of supply and demand, and to democratize the innovation process.


Since 2007, the Innovation Lab (I-Lab) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) applies its own approach to social innovation by creating platforms where citizens themselves can define and prioritize their problems, and connect with those who have the capabilities, interests and resources to solve them: governments, universities and NGOs at the local, regional and global levels. Watch video

In this brochure you will learn how several initiatives were implemented in the region.

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Highlighted IDB publications

• How to Promote High-Impact Innovations through Social Innovation Funds: A Call for Public-Private Partnerships (English | Spanish)

• The Experience of the IDB's Innovation Lab (English)

• Social Innovation in Practice: The Case of the Fe y Alegría Project for Educational Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Ecuador (English | Spanish)


IDB projects in this area:

• Promoting Citizen Security through Social Innovation

• Panama: Innovation Program for Social Inclusion and Productivity

• A World of Solutions: Innovation for People with Disabilities | Watch related video

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A country’s ability to adapt and take advantage of technological changes in today’s global context depends largely on its entrepreneurs.

Through different mechanisms, the IDB supports countries to stimulate dynamic entrepreneurship, which is the emergence of new innovative companies with high growth potential. We support the creation and consolidation of entrepreneurship ecosystems in different countries, regions and industry sectors, analyzing the degree of evolution of each particular ecosystem and incorporating missing components and connections. We seek to promote an entrepreneurial culture in the region as well as to strengthen incubators, accelerators and the availability of venture capital for innovative entrepreneurs.


Highlighted IDB publications

• Fostering Dynamic Entrepreneurship in Countries of the Southern Cone of Latin America: An Analysis of Experiences and Policy Lessons (Spanish)

• Business Dynamics and Dynamic Entrepreneurship: Do they Contribute to Employment and Productivity? The Case of Argentina (Spanish)

• Connecting the Agents of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean(Spanish)


IDB projects in this area:

• Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in the Pacific Alliance

• Peru: Fostering Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Private Sector Development

• Uruguay: Support to Future Entrepreneurs

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Taking full advantage of the opportunities brought by the digital economy requires transforming our productive sectors and business models.

Digital technologies such as the Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and cloud computing along with increasing connectivity are transforming the economy and production processes into what is called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We work together with governments in the Region in designing and implementing digital transformation strategies that foster the adoption and use of digital technologies, the emergence of innovations based on digital technologies and the development of digital business models.


Highlighted IDB Publications

• ICTs in Latin American and the Caribbean Firms: Stylized Facts, Programs and Policies(English) 

• Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean: A Digital Economy Toolkit (English | Spanish)

• Experiences and Emerging Trends Related to ICTs, Innovation and Productivity in Korea(English)


IDB projects in this area

• Argentina: Technological Innovation Program IV

• Perú: Improved levels of productive innovation at the national level 

• Uruguay: Programa de Innovación para el Desarrollo Productivo

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More resources

• Digital Economy InfoGuide (English)

• Interactive Visualization. Doors opened by new technologies (Spanish)

• Videos | Integration 4.0 - Next technological frontiers and new global convergences (Spanish)


Encouraging innovation and productivity in firms that are part of strategic sectors is key to promoting social and economic development.

We support countries by developing diagnostics on their productive sectors, as well as identifying strategic areas to focus their efforts on. The goal is to improve their innovation capabilities and productivity. Likewise, we promote programs aiming at strengthening the linkages and collaboration between companies of a certain sector or territory (clusters), internationalization and access to markets, as well as the participation of companies in national and global value chains.


The book presents a reassessment of productive development through comprehensive research and analysis of the market failures that prevent transformation, and the government failures that can make policy solutions worse than the actual market problems. The authors analyze different countries’ policies in key areas such as innovation, entrepreneurship, finance, human capital and internationalization. They also present ideas on how to design institutions with the right incentives, increase the capacity of the public sector over time and promote constructive public-private partnerships.

Download the book

Highlighted IDB publications

• The Impact Evaluation of Cluster Development Programs: Methods and Practices (English)

• The Productivity Gap in Latin America: Lessons from 50 Years of Development (English)

• Synchronized Factories: Latin America and the Caribbean in the Era of Global Value Chains(English | Spanish | Portuguese)


IDB projects in this area

• Cluster Competitiveness Support Program for Minas Gerais | Watch related video

• Uruguay: Clusters Competitiveness and Value Chains | Watch related video

• Dominican Republic: Program to Support Competitiveness Policy | Watch related video

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Innovation Lab

The Innovation Lab (I-Lab) promotes the generation of social innovations when the problem is not defined and the demand is not structured, involving multiple actors in the process: citizens, public institutions, academia and private sector.

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Compete Caribbean

The Compete Caribbean program provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development and innovation policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and SME development activities in the Caribbean.

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Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem of the Pacific Alliance

With support from the IDB, the Pacific Alliance initiated the implementation of a public-private agenda aimed at creating and consolidating a Regional Ecosystem of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with member countries.
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Regional Policy Dialogue on Innovation

Through annual meetings, the Regional Policy Dialogue provides senior government officials a forum to discuss common issues related to national innovation systems, exchange experiences and explore regional cooperation initiatives.

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