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Innovation & Technology as Catalysts for Change in Latin America

Main Stage


  • As the most recognized and innovative company in the tobacco industry, Lucie Claire Vincent explained that Philip Morris International (PMI) has a mission to create a smoke-free future. The company seeks to give its current consumers a non-combustion product, which is backed by scientific evidence, as a better alternative to cigarettes. She added that the company firmly believes that science and technology should guide the authorities to develop a public policy that is free of bias and ideologies, because this is the only way in which innovation can be a catalyst for economic and social development. PMI has invested more than $7.2 billion in research & development, and works with more than 430 experts from different disciplines to make this possible. Vincent believes that, if progress continues at its current rate, it will be possible to stop commercializing cigarettes in the next 15 years. Although the development of new technologies and regulations generates abrupt changes in the status quo and in the way of thinking and operating, it also creates a great opportunity for governments to see the benefits that technology and science bring and avoid stagnation.

Just as we as a company are embarking on innovation, we firmly believe that all companies must challenge conventional wisdom and use innovation as a catalyst for the economic and social development of countries,” Lucie Claire Vincent

  • For Simón Borrero, the public and private sectors have many areas to converge around this issue. The presidency of Colombia, in a project led by the Ministry of Information Technologies & Communications, seeks to train more than 100,000 entrepreneurs who promote technology and programming in new generations. As suggested by Borrero, entrepreneurs play an important role in inspiring young people, and there are opportunities for the government to partner with entrepreneurs in order to promote this culture. 

Generating an entrepreneurial culture in Latin America is key to solve the poverty we have, and it’s the only way to make our economy grow,” Simón Borrero

  • Ignacio Gaitán, as the representative of the government agency, affirmed that the government is aware of the barriers that exist and maintains contact with the country’s greatest entrepreneurs to eliminate these barriers. On November 30, the Conpes de Emprendimiento was approved, whose objective is to position entrepreneurship as a state policy. This project recognizes the gaps in talent, financing, and technological infrastructure, among others. President Duque’s core plan, which focuses on entrepreneurship, has made it possible to understand that to be an entrepreneurial nation, it is necessary to recognize regulatory, social, political, tax, technological, and market barriers. Gaitán believes that entrepreneurship should not be involved in a political debate, but rather should be a tool for inclusion. Borrero contributed to the conversation by highlighting that entrepreneurship should not be classified as belonging to just a political side, but to both, so that it’s a priority for all governments. 

It’s very important that entrepreneurship becomes a state policy. When the State recognizes these barriers is when the new path begins,” Ignacio Gaitán

  • Vincent added that, for Philip Morris International, it’s essential that technology and science go hand in hand with regulation. In addition, regulations must have the insight of several sectors. Vincent also highlighted the importance of listening to the consumer and using scientific evidence when creating regulation; this ensures regulation keeps pace with innovation, and avoids stagnation. Finally, Vincent stressed that regulations cannot be the same for everyone, but must be differentiated and segmented, so that they are based on the characteristics and attributes of each company or industry.

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Collaboration between the government and private sector is key to avoid stagnation and potential delays in innovation.
  • Regulation should include input from different sectors to ensure that it is differentiated and based upon the particular characteristics and attributes that it relates to, with respect to scientific evidence.


Session Speakers