New Publication: The Virtuous Circle Project in the city of Pereira, Colombia


In her new (Spanish) publication, Martha Liliana Marín-Montoya analyses the Virtuous Circle Project implemented by the Planning Department of Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira in the city of Pereira, Colombia. 

This project seeks to transform the territory and the socio-economic development of the city by promoting a productive and equitable society based on knowledge production and application. This initiative has three main components (sensory health, psychosocial, and pedagogical) distributed over five links (nurseries, schools, universities, networks, and entrepreneurial communities) that, connected in a sequence, hold the promise of achieving “the desired society”.

Although the Virtuous Circle project was considered educational during its 10 year period – its motivation, implementation, and inclusion of multiple and diverse actors from different sociotechnical systems show characteristics of a local policy instrument with a systemic vision. 

The elements highlighted above, which diverge from traditional city initiatives, combined with the features of this project that redefine paradigms of territorial development, align closely with the principles outlined in the Transformative Innovation Policy Framework.

As the Virtuous Circle project is a planning tool with limited assessment and impact analysis, Martha employed the 7 principles of the Transformative Innovation Policy Radar Tool developed by the Latin American and Caribbean HUB of Transformative Innovation Policy (HUBLAyCTIP) in this publication. 

This reflective tool aids in thinking about the project as a Transformative Innovation Policy experiment. It involves scoring the initiative for the presence of each principle, creating a picture of where strengths and weaknesses may lie, with scope to make recommendations for deepening the transformative potential.

The use of the Policy Radar Tool indicated that there are essential elements required in development initiatives, like the Virtuous Circle Project, that aim to transform the territory. 

The essential elements highlighted are: 

  • Initiatives involving the four key actors: society, universities, businesses and the state, require a collaboratively crafted and living narrative of transformation. This narrative must be clear, concise and evolve over time. 
  • An evaluation and monitoring plan is necessary to account for the process of change. While traditional impact indicators account for execution, they do not precisely reveal what execution has transformed into the customs, rules, infrastructure, and other dimensions of a city system.
  • Vertical governance structures in a systemic and collaborative initiative tend to be counterproductive to its sustainability and legitimacy. However, a horizontal governance model is necessary to foster spaces for co-creation, review, reflection and evaluation of the different strategies, products and services that a large city project may generate. This approach aims to achieve replication, circulation and/or scaling-up.

To read the full publication in Spanish, click here.

Martha would like to share her gratitude to the following: 

  • TIPC’s Diana Velasco for her invitation to be part of the Trilogía del Institución Universitaria ITM magazine