Impact of the development of innovation

Impact of the development of innovation and technology transfer through education: case study in Mexico


Purpose- Entrepreneurship is recognized as an engine for the economy. However, Latin America must promote higher opportunities for the creation of new business, especially for technology-based ventures. In this sense, the CGIE of the University of Texas at Austin directs a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MCCT) that prepares students with methodologies that promote the creation of new businesses in Mexico. This study aims to know, from the vision of the participants, the contribution that this training has in the creation of new companies, and its role in the technology transfer processes.

Design/methodology- This research presents a case study that analyze the impact of the MCCT through the analysis of the data of a survey answered by 109 former students of this center.

Findings- The methodologies developed by the MCCT allow the development of technology-based enterprises and entrepreneurial skills in students.

Research limitations- Being a qualitative study, the economic impact of these projects could not be measured, so for future studies, it is recommended to quantify the value of the developed ventures and their impact on the state and national economy.

Practical implications- This study exposes good practices by the CGIE, that are in accordance with state policies that can be emulated by other countries in the region.

Social implication-Science and technology are essential for the knowledge society and technology-based entrepreneurship, so its impulse will generate an improvement in the regional economies.

Originality/value- The promotion of good practices for regional development, especially for Latin America, is of great value to create synergies between institutions, industry, and government that strengthen economic growth.

Keywords- business creation, technology transfer, innovation, entrepreneurship education, science and technology, Mexico

Paper type- Case study

1. Introduction

In the new knowledge economy, innovation plays a fundamental role in the socioeconomic development of the regions (Leal González et al., 2014). Its growth is associated with the dynamism of companies, especially in the role played by the small and medium business (Levie and Autio, 2011). In this context, entrepreneurship is considered as a factor that favors the search for opportunities and innovation with a positive impact on the generation of wealth in the countries (Urbano and Álvarez, 2014). Consequently, it is required an adequate combination of individual conditions of the entrepreneur, a favorable business climate, necessary infrastructure, and legal and political conditions that encourage people to create new business, especially in the case of Latin America where this performance has been poor (Amorós et al., 2019).

To achieve this growth, the interaction of diverse actors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is considered necessary. Moreover, elements such as access to information, the development of human capital through universities and research centers, access to funds, business opportunities related to the market, customers and suppliers affect the development of new ventures (Van Stel and Suddle, 2008). In this interaction, institutions such as universities are including education programs for entrepreneurship as a means to develop creative and entrepreneurial talent, which provides opportunities to generate knowledge and develop networks (Florida, 2014).

As mentioned earlier, the human capital formation is a fundamental element for economic growth and innovation (Pelinescu, 2015). Therefore, previous studies have determine how training projects in universities help to increase the culture of innovation through the promotion of entrepreneurship. One of the studies is the developed by Diamantini and Tommasone (2014) in Brazil who analyzed through a case study, the contribution of the Master's Degree in Innovation Management for Local Development offered by the Fluminense University of Rio de Janeiro and taught by experts from the University of Milano-Bicocca of Italy.

This master’s program provides students with tools to build new businesses and to transform the environments in which they develop, especially seeking to analyze the main elements of innovation and technology transfer, which allow promoting entrepreneurship and the relationship with other actors such as incubators, small and medium enterprises, and technology parks. The research concluded that the interaction between the different actors is needed to achieve economic growth, although they cannot define correct policies from outside without knowing the ideas of those who are living the situation.

Another study was developed by the KICKSTART group, integrated by nine institutions of higher education in Latin America and Europe. Its objective was to seek new practices that generate innovation in the countries of the Latin American region (Anderson et al., 2014; Alemán de la Garza and Gómez Zermeño, 2012). In this study, strategies were elaborated to improve the quality of the teaching-learning process to seek the development of professionals with an innovative approach. In a study conducted at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, in the Research Chairs, it was determined that leadership is a fundamental element that must exist in the professionals responsible for developing the strategies. Furthermore, this leadership should seek interaction with the tools that allow the transfer of innovative products and processes to generate projects that solve problems in their environment. However, not all teachers knew how to implement these approaches (Alemán de la Garza, 2018)

Therefore, it is needed for the university to be involved in the development of innovation and entrepreneurial talent training processes, being that within its functions is preparing citizens to join the methods of production and generation of wealth (Edwards-Schachter et al., 2015). On this wise, entrepreneuship education must facilitate the student to learn by doing, incorporating mentors, networking, and increasing the interest of developing new business (Kariv et al., 2019; Pauwels et al., 2014). In spite of, authors consider there are still programs that are more closely to theory than to practice (Alawamleh et al., 2019; Qiao, 2018; Quintana et al., 2016; Virtanen and Tynjälä, 2018). Thus knowing the best practices developing these elements becomes an indispensable element to improve competitiveness through the development of different skills in individuals to meet the new requirements (Avvisati et al., 2013).

In this context, the IC2 Institute of the University of Texas at Austin has developed since 1997 the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MCCT) and has started to be taught in 2009 by the Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CGIE) in the city of Monterrey, Mexico. This center has graduated 250 students who, through different methodologies, have developed more than 54 technology-based entrepreneurship projects in Mexico. Hence, this study aims to know the impact from the point of view from whose have received the training, both in their professional development and in the formation of ventures. Knowing the vision of the people involved, it is possible to know the contribution that this type of training can have in the creation of new companies and in the processes of technology transfer that can generate a transformation in the social, economic and political problems of the region.

This article is structured as follows. First, it presents the literature review related to training topics for innovation and technology transfer. Second, it describes the method and the context in which it was developed. Third, the results and the analysis of the data obtained with the instrument. Finally, it develops the discussion and conclusions of the research.

1.2 Literature review

In recent years, diverse studies related to the development of innovation and technology transfer have appeared and they considered as relevant those elements to raise the economy and to promote entrepreneurship.

Training for innovation

According to the Oslo Manual, innovation is defined as a new or improved product or process, different from the original, available to users and integrated into an activity (OECD/Eurostat, 2018). These changes are driven by a group of specialists that promote economic and scientific progress, through research and the development of new strategies (Alawamleh et al., 2019). Additionally, innovation is associated with the formation of human capital that has the necessary skills, because professionals who are part of the innovation processes of the public and private sectors are required to be competitive in the products and services they offer (Keinänen and Kairisto-Mertanen, 2019). Therefore, to train future innovators, it is crucial to develop strategies that encourage creativity and promote the required skills to participate in innovation processes.

In this regard, the training processes should bring the student closer to what they will experience in real life, through a pedagogy of innovation (Penttilä, 2016) where elements known as meta-innovations converge. These elemens are according to Keinänen and Kairisto-Mertanen (2019): active teaching-learning methods, multidisciplinary learning environments, integration of working life, research and development (R & D), flexible curriculums, entrepreneurship, and internationalization. As are represented in Figure 1, it presents the way forward in the training of students to participate in innovation.

Figure 1. Meta-innovation processes according to Keinänen and Kairisto-Mertanen, 2019

The meta-innovation processes are described as follows: active learning allows students to build knowledge and meaning to the situations they experience in the educational process; the orientation of working life allows learning around real-life situations working on projects with other colleagues. This participation of other people must be multidisciplinary so that students can share competencies and interact with each other. The flexibility of the curriculum allows different trajectories to be followed according to the needs and interests of the students, it should also give the possibility to promote entrepreneurship, which implies risk management and the search for opportunities. Finally, internationalization will make it easier to develop competencies to participate in an increasingly globalized world (Lehto and Penttilä, 2013).

In the case of entrepreneurship, it is recognized as a relevant factor for the economic development of a region (Rypestøl, 2017) and the role of the entrepreneur is to search solutions to the problems and bring those solutions to the market. In this sense, there are two types of entrepreneurship: the mentioned by Schumpeter (1934) as the entrepreneur who creates new ideas that lead to changing the market with new ways of doing things. This type of development is known as a technology push, where the entrepreneur is the one who proposes the change, and they can introduce a new product, a new production method, open a new market or make a new industry organization. Differently, there is the vision of Kirzner (1973) who promotes the market pull, where the needs of the market are those that lead the entrepreneur to propose a solution (Arielle and Storr, 2018).

To Rypestøl (2017), these classifications are useful to distinguish entrepreneurs and companies, but they do not allow to determine the effect that new ventures have on the development of a region. Since, it is necessary to consider the effects of entrepreneur training, as well as the conditions that favor interaction with other actors such as universities, accelerators, incubators, research centers, then this innovative talent can generate the expected development and economic growth.