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UC Riverside Partners with the Organization of American States and Local Governments to Bring Technology Commercialization to Latin America

By Alexandra Orozco |

Latin America has outstanding universities and institutes conducting research in ground breaking technologies. Many times this research is aimed at understanding and solving major local and regional problems.  Local institutions have a good chance of finding viable solutions given their understanding of the problematic, but governments, universities and organizations involved in technology transfer and innovation in Latin America struggle to build their economies based on technological innovation.

UC Riverside (UCR) has been working with governments, universities and organizations in Chile, Colombia, Panama, and Mexico sharing best practices and lessons learned to strengthen the technology transfer, entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in the region.

UCR and the Latin American partners are jointly working to adapt the best practices from the United States to their ecosystem.  UCR is also facilitating the development of partnerships in the United States that will accelerate the transformation of their technologies into products for the benefit of society.   

UCR recently signed an MOU with The Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá (UTP), the most prominent public university in Panamá for technical scientific education, to collaborate in the areas of innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurial ecosystem development. 

The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) is the largest public university in Latin America with over 350,000 students.  The UNAM and UCR’s Office of Technology Partnerships are in the process of signing an agreement to collaborate to bring technological discoveries to market through joint research and technology transfer.

The Universidad de Los Andes of Colombia, one of the top private universities in Latin America also partners UCR in matters of technology transfer and entrepreneurship support, leveraging the expertise and networks of UCR to develop their own ecosystem.

Lastly, the presence of UCR in Chile has been expanding since 2018 when a partnership with Know Hub Chile, an association of 11 Chilean universities, started a broad collaboration in the areas of technology transfer and entrepreneurship education to help build the country’s innovation ecosystem.  Today, the UCR entrepreneurship training program is being referenced and considered a foundation for other government-funded programs in Chile. 

Members of UCR Office of Technology Partnerships have worked in partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS) for over seven years supporting their “HUB of the Americas” on technology transfer.  Hundreds of technology transfer professionals and managers from universities as well as senior officials from the OAS’ 34 member-countries have participated in the “Hub of the Americas” experiential training to develop commercialization plans for their inventions.

“We realized that in order to make a long lasting change and accelerate the rate of transformation and collaboration, we need to virtualize these collaborations” said Rosibel Ochoa, Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology Partnerships at UCR.

To expand the reach of these collaborations and to  build community among past participants, UCR  recently strengthened its partnership with the OAS to develop and launch a tech commercialization acceleration portal for the Americas called COMUNITT.   The portal will make training, mentoring and collaboration on the topic available to technology transfer officers, incubator managers and professionals throughout the region. 

“There are high quality inventions and technologies throughout the Americas, but most  countries lack the infrastructure and support to successfully commercialize them” said Cesar Parga, Chief Competitiveness, Innovation and Technology Section Department of Economic Development (DED)/SEDI for the OAS.  “This portal is the next tier of support that our region needs”, added Parga.   The portal will be live in the fall of 2020 welcoming members from Mexico to the Patagonia.  “We want to make a difference in the Americas through innovation and the commercialization of technologies that solve important problems.   Today’s financial limitations are a barrier for many countries and institutions to access expert knowledge.  With this new platform, UCR can help lift everyone.” said Dr. Ochoa.

International collaboration in technology transfer and entrepreneurship is a win-win for UCR and the governments and institutions that together will bring innovations from Latin America to the world.