Linking researchers, teachers and students through projects, technological services, and scientific development initiatives to enable a cycle of constant growth among academic institutions is the core mission of Ecuador’s national research and education network CEDIA (Ecuadorian Corporation for the Development of Research and Academia).
CEDIA consist of 41 Higher Education institutions as full members and 21 high schools, research institutes and other institutions as associate members.
For the last 18 years, the work of CEDIA has constantly evolved; initially it was mainly focused on improving the connectivity and technological conditions of its members. The next step was to strongly support research processes; and since 2018, with the creation of the Innovation and Technology Transfer (ITT) Team, CEDIA seeks to act as a link between academia and society.
The ITT team started off by generating what was called “The Innovation Pact”, which is a formal agreement signed by institutions interested in working in a coordinated way on innovation initiatives around the country. During this period, 35 organizations, including public service, industry, finance and non-profit institutions, have joined the pact. This represents, without a doubt, a crucial milestone in the link-up of CEDIA’s activities, and it has been the foundation for the success of the different programs and projects carried out by the team during the last 3 years.
The ITT team has definitively become a referent in the organization of events of “Foment of Innovation and Technology Transfer Culture”, which have been an excellent space for generating new projects among the different actors of the Ecuadorian innovation ecosystem (more than 3481 assistants to the events in the last 3 years). In the same way, the Open Innovation Processes developed by the ITT team have become the new standard of good practices nationally; the team has launched 22 processes, receiving more than 200 proposals, with more than 600 participants (researchers, teachers, students, entrepreneurs).
One of the main achievements of the ITT unit is the designation of CEDIA as a “Technology and Innovation Support Center” (TISC) by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which has been the basis for the consolidation of several Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property services. Since 2018, 1070 researchers have been involved in all these services.
Equally important, the accreditation of the institution as “Innovation Operator” by the National Secretary of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (SNESCYT) allows CEDIA to manage ITT funds coming from the public sector. As a result of its work of the past 3 years, CEDIA was awarded the technical management of the First National Venture Capital Fund from the National Financial Corporation (CFN), a public fund of USD 20.000.000,00 aimed to invest in innovation projects nationally. In a similar fashion, the team has also managed to obtain approximately USD 720.000,00 in other ITT funds.
Finally, it is fair to say that the innovation ecosystem has shown some interesting systemic improvements, based on the response to two programs launched by the ITT team in 2020.
First, the Register Fund, a program designed to finance intellectual property registers of multiple intangibles from academia with tech transfer potential. And second, the Fund 1to1, also a technology transfer program, in which a university proposes a project to solve a specific problem of an organization, in which for each dollar that it is proposed by the counterpart, CEDIA will invest one dollar. In the latest round, 22 proposals were received from 22 companies and 14 Universities, 10 industrial sectors, and more than USD 340.000,00 as counterpart.
Definitively, this is clear evidence of not only improvements in I+D+i processes, but also the trust placed in CEDIA by the other actors, a huge responsibility which motivates the ITT team to keep on working on initiatives to foster innovation and technology transfer in Ecuador.
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