The CEI-Promotion of Academic Entrepreneurship Program is a pioneering initiative to boost the creation of technology-based companies from research conducted in the Spanish public universities. The release of teaching duties teacher and customization support in the entrepreneurial process are positioned as key success factors of this initiative, which supported the creation and consolidation of 15 entrepreneurial projects promoted by university professors, in sectors as diverse such as ICT, life sciences, biotechnology, food processing, energy or social sciences.

We spoke to Senen Barro, President of RedEmprendia to know the program and the work performed from this university network of business incubators in boosting university entrepreneurship in Latin America:

Q: In what context you are born this program and for what purposes?

A: The CEI-Academic Entrepreneurship Development Program was created in 2011 as a line of innovative support within programs strengthening the Campus of International Excellence of the Spanish universities.

The main objective of the program has been to help the creation and consolidation of companies from the results of research conducted at universities. At the time of its launch other initiatives to support entrepreneurship university there, but not too many. However, the most innovative aspect of the program, and the reason that makes it a pioneer in the field of technology transfer from the university initiative was a bid to claim the figure of “entrepreneurial academic”, Professor / university researcher that is involved in transferring the results of their research through the creation of a company.

The program was a great example of successful collaboration between the government, represented by the Ministry of Education, a financial institution Banco Santander and RedEmprendia as support organization university entrepreneurship in Latin America that led the implementation of the program. RedEmprendia by Rickard Bucksch coordinated the program, developing an excellent job.

Q: What has been to the CEI-Promotion of Academic Entrepreneurship Program?

A: It is based on two pillars, basically, on the one hand, the Ministry of Education funded a substitute teacher academic entrepreneur, who assumed his teaching responsibilities for a period of six months to a year. This allowed the beneficiary devote full to the creation or strengthening of a company time. On the other, RedEmprendia, with the financial support of Banco Santander, identified a number of support services and personalized advice for companies and projects beneficiaries, detecting and addressing where possible needs and opportunities.

The main features of this program are shown in this dossier:

Q: What kind of companies have participated?

A: The profile of the beneficiaries of the CEI-Promotion of Academic Entrepreneurship program has been that of teachers and researchers linked to the Campus of International Excellence of the Spanish public universities with a project or company recently created from the results of their research .

Q: How many academics and entrepreneurs which sectors have been?

A: On your first call they have benefited from the program a total of 15 academic entrepreneurs from nine universities. Beyond this common aspect, sectors or scientific fields source projects and profiles of entrepreneurs are heterogeneous: six of the beneficiaries operate in the field of biotechnology, four in the TIC sector, both in the field of food technologies, two in the renewable energy sector and one in the field of social sciences.

In this line of business projects with which we have worked we are:

  • APEIRON MEDICAL (University Politècnica from València, UPV).
  • ASCIDEA (University Pompeu Fabra, UPF).
  • BILAKA(University of the País Vasco, EHU)
  • DAPCOM – DATA SERVICES (University from Barcelona ans Universitat Politècnica from Catalunya)
  • DIOMUNE (University Autónoma from Madrid, UAM)
  • DNS NEUROSCIENCE (University Autónoma from Madrid, UAM)
  • IDERMAR(University from Cantabria, UNICAN)
  • IMEGEN (University from València, UV).
  • IMICROQ (University Rovira i Virgili, URV).
  • IMMUNNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENTS (University from Barcelona and Hospital Clínic from Barcelona).
  • M-CARER (University Rovira i Virgili, URV).
  • SMALLE TECHNOLOGIES (University from Barcelona, UB).
  • SOC-E (University of the País Vasco, EHU)
  • W3IS2 (University Rovira i Virgili, URV).
  • YPSICON (University Autònoma from Barcelona, UAB).

This has made it necessary to develop individual work plans for each project, identifying needs and opportunities together with the entrepreneur and his university.

Q: What kind of actions have been developed under the project?

A: In each case a support program as developed according to the situation of each company and entrepreneur. Therefore, and this was one of the most interesting features of the program, support actions were different and tailored to each case.

Schematically we could talk about four types of support actions:

Coaching and direct support to beneficiaries by program coordination; both the development of their projects and in the dialogue between the university and the Ministry of Education for management issues.
Definition and implementation of actions to support measure funded through the contribution to agreement by Banco Santander.
Concrete actions, with RedEmprendia service offering; including a course on Academic Entrepreneurship in collaboration with the School of Industrial Organization (EOI).
Inclusion of participants in the support network of RedEmprendia companies.

In addition, recently we organized the Day Researchers Entrepreneurs: From the University to the company, a meeting where the results of the program were presented and which also wanted to give the floor and prominence to the academic entrepreneurs themselves beneficiaries, who had the occasion to share experiences, challenges and different perspectives on the creation of spin-offs in Spain.

See more images in the Flickr Gallery RedEmprendia

You can see a summary of this Day in the following video:

Q: What have been the main benefits that these companies have managed to participating in the initiative?

A: Rather than creating a specific number of new companies, our objective was that companies were born with a better approach, they grew stronger and better and faster. This I had very present to focus the actions of strategic support for companies, which were most varied: from achieve ISO certification, properly define the path for product approval by the European Medicines Agency or develop a solid plan for the internationalization of the company, to mention just a few examples.

Besides this personalized support, there is no doubt that the academic entrepreneur was a great benefit to be released from their teaching duties. We can not ask the teaching and research staff to do it all at once, teach, research and transfer, even undertaking, and do everything right. There are moments particularly demanding in relation to each of its responsibilities or tasks that require intensified efforts in a line, easing the dedication to others. This has to be properly planned and organized and encouraged. In this regard, the assessment of the program by beneficiaries was very positive, and so was by their universities and institutions to support entrepreneurship of these.

Q: a new edition of the program planned?

A: Re-edit this program is a decision which falls under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, in this case Spanish. These are difficult times by economic difficulties, but it is also true that there are times when you have to establish priorities and in my opinion should be some of the expected results of a program of these characteristics: to achieve transfer more and better the results of R & D , create jobs and create highly skilled and innovative business fabric.This program has been, without any doubt, an excellent investment for society and RedEmprendia would be willing to collaborate in new editions.

Q: Do you plan to extrapolate the model to other Latin American countries?

A: We would so be it and also had continuity in Spain. In any case, the characteristics of this program require the involvement and leadership of government in each case may be. RedEmprendia, as in the Spanish initiative, can help design and be a strategic partner in its execution, and certainly would be willing to do so in new times, here or in other countries.

In addition to this program and its possible expansion to other countries, the fact is that as we have the goal Red progressively incorporating new universities and through them to increase our presence to other countries in Latin America. It is in any case a slow process, since we have to go settled first model collaboration with universities that are already part of RedEmprendia and lines of action and projects that are being launched. In any case, whenever possible, RedEmprendia about their initiatives extend beyond its partner universities, as will occur, for example, in the Spin2014 event, which we will celebrate in Mexico DF at the end of 2014.

Q: What lessons learned from this project adds to the work done by RedEmprendia to boost university entrepreneurship in Latin America?

A: Several, but importantly different types of entities collaborating with a common objective can be achieved more and with greater impact. In Latin American, and so in Spain countries, the academic entrepreneur has a key that may arise and grow new businesses based on knowledge and technological development role. Therefore, academic entrepreneurs deserve all the support that can be given.

Q: What are the main challenges for the future for you?

A: RedEmprendia mission is to support the transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship university as a strategic axis of Iberoamerican Knowledge System. By this we contribute to the development of society and improving their quality of life, promoting a responsible and committed socially and environmentally economy. This guide from the origin to RedEmprendia and their initiatives.

About Senen Barro:

Senen Barro Ameneiro is President of RedEmprendia, Professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, and founder and director of the Intelligent Systems Group of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), one of the most important research groups in Artificial Intelligence . Between 2002 and 2010 he also held the position of Director at USC, during which launched several initiatives to promote internationalization and entrepreneurship in the Galician university. He has also been editor or author of seven books, the last one entitled “+ University -Especulación” (Netbiblo, 2013), and author of over 200 scientific articles.

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