Ecuador / Ecuador Culture / Ecuador News

“City of the Future” planned for Ecuador, 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Cotacachi

By Gary Phillips

A few months ago, I was searching for a large area of land for an ambitions client.  I uncovered several haciendas in the Urcuqui area of Ecuador– Hacienda San Jose with 950 hectares, Hacienda San Vincente de Las Flores, 550 ha., along with several surrounding haciendas of 50 to 100 hectares each.

My comment at the time was that this area was one of the most beautiful and productive areas in all of Ecuador, and incredible place to do some kind of project.

Now, the entire country is abuzz with the word from the government that a deal has been signed with the Korean IFEZ (Incheon Free Economic Zone) to take charge of a new Ecuador knowledge-based city development to be constructed in this very area.

ciudad del concociemento map

The total project is valued at nearly $5 billion U.S. dollars and will be built in the area of these Urcuqui haciendas.  The site is now about 3 hours north of Quito, Ecuador’s capitol.  However, with the proposed new super highway construction, this distance will be cut to less than two hours.

Land acquisition is underway and planning and construction will take place beginning in 2012  and proceeding for 16 years.  The project will focus on knowledge-based industries and education centers, a university, and a bio-industry based free economic zone. A memorandum of understanding was signed between IFEZ and Ecuador on Oct. 7, 2011.

The city, to be called Yachay, City of Knowledge, will cover nearly 2,100 ha (5,200 acres) in the first phase, and ultimately 4,200  ha (10,374 acres) in the second phase.    The city will consist of 19 research centers including, educational  institutes, technology transfer centers, world-class companies and organizations linked to the educational, developmental and productivity initiatives of the country.   It is estimated that more than 40,000 people will ultimately live in the city.

The City of Knowledge research centers include: life sciences, renewable energy, petrochemical and information and communication technologies. It’s an ambitious plan to explore and develop new technologies and to export knowledge.

René Ramírez, National Secretary of Planning, said there is interest from the university of Cambridge, University of Illinois, and University of Sao Paulo to participate in the program.

The area around Urcuqui is known for its temperate climate, good water resources and rich farm land which is now mostly in the production of sugar cane.   A new road plan connecting the Panamerican high way from Cayambe through Zuleta and Olmeda will provide excellent access to the new airport in Quito.

Initially, thirty-two property owners have been notified of the possibility of the government appropriating their land.  The goal is not to affect land owners less than six hectares (15 acres).   Payment amounts have not been disclosed.  Ultimately 89 property owners will be affected.

ciudad de concociemento

No matter how you cut it, this planned city of the future is a game-changer for Imbabura province, of which Cotacachi is a part, not to mention Ecuador itself.   Ibarra, a city of 150,000, will have much more rapid access to the new Quito airport.  An influx of high technology professionals, business people, and educators will help Ibarra and Imbabura province become a major player in the future development of Ecuador and South America.

The new four- and six-lane highway system between Quito and the northern environs will allow for greatly expand trade between Colombia and Ecuador.  As a resident of Ecuador, it is exciting to see a country and a leadership with a strong vision for the future, and the fortitude to implement it.

(This report was gleaned from a variety of internet postings, news paper articles, and conversations with residents of the area.  A good friend of ours has a 30-ha dairy farm that will be incorporated into the new village.  Another friend has a property that will be dissected by the new highway bypass to be constructed around Ibarra.)



  1. Sofia Shwayri says:

    Did the government publish any plans for this new city?

  2. andy cevallos says:

    No worries. This city is being planned with a smart growth design method. Will be the southamerican way of sustainable cities: Small an compact, connected, pedestrian based, and intelligent. It will concetrate instead of spreading itself over productive lands. Don’t worry and be part of it SCIENTIST OF THE WORLD!

  3. FYI- eminent domain is the method by which govt takes property for other uses. Eminent means from a position of dominance whereas imminent means something is going to happen pretty dam quick.

  4. Great News!

    I’m gonna hop the next cheap flight I can find. Seek out all available lands in this town. Then, I will buy them before all the other white-eyes show up.

    I will wait… wait like a snake in the grass,, or,, wait– did you already say that the gov’t annexed the land?

    Dang! A day late! I can assure you though, I’ll be there first in line next time. Opportunity only knocks once in these places. As soon as the gringos smell blood (money), it’s akin to vultures on a (soon to be) dead carcass.

    Ecuador: another country ruined by white greed.
    You are better off staying in the ussa, buying cheap cinder block hovels in St. Lucie or W. Palm. At least there is running water & early bird specials at the GMO buffet!


  5. Gail Wiesner says:

    This is fascinating, but I am concerned about the comment regarding the government seizure of the land. Does the government do this often, with all the development going on in Ecuador? We are researching the country in hopes of moving there, but want to know more before buying any house there.

    • This is not a government seizure per se. Rather, it is taking land by imminent domain for a public works project, which is common in most countries of the world.

  6. John Farrell says:

    Wow. I spent a couple of days in Ibarra in November. It’s completely off the gringo radar right now. Looks like that is going to change radically soon.

  7. I am excited to hear about this. I pass thru this area when i travel from Otavalo to Chachimbiro. I have always wanted a small plot of land there, it is sooo furtile. I look forward to visiting early next year, urcuqui has always intrigued me.

  8. I would also like to learn more about this. Do you have gov’t or commercial websites which track progress and/or identify opportunities? (e.g., new residential projects, businesses/universities announcing partnerships or participation, etc)

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  10. Thank you very much for the very informative article. Will you continue to research more into this and post as you find out other information?

    I know that it is a lot to ask, but is there a chance you might amend the article to include the resources you used?

    • Just go to youtube and google and search for Ciudad del conociemento Ecuador. You will get many hits. Most of them are in Spanish so you will have to use the translate feature.