Bridging Research and Industry Developing Growth and Entrepreneurship

Challenge
The economic systems in the Dominican Republic and Haiti suffer from the absence of collaboration between knowledge producers (academia) and knowledge users (industry), which has a negative effect on the innovation and competitiveness of firms and ultimately affects the sustainable growth of both countries. One of the consequences is the resulting brain drain of talented researchers and entrepreneurs. Among the main reasons for this situation are:

  • Lack of interest from local universities to support a domestic industrial system where, currently, the strategic research and development (R&D) headquarters of more innovative companies are located abroad;
  • Poor capability of regional small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to recognise the crucial importance of innovation for the sustainability of their businesses; and
  •  A scientific and technological (S&T) policy which is focused almost exclusively on the support of research activities with little effort put into the transfer of research results to industry (into new products/services or improvements in existing ones).

Focus
Bridging research and industry developing growth and entrepreneurship (BRIDGE) supports the co-operation between research actors and industry in the Dominican Republic and Haiti through the design of innovative support instruments and services by:

  • Identifying co-operation needs and opportunities within academia and industry;
  • Adapting selected international best practices into new tools to support academia-industry co-operation (e.g. celebration of collaboration agreements, access to external support services, technology transfer offices within universities, company spin off);
  • Testing of new policy tools to facilitate collaboration (e.g. public programmes funding consortia of companies and universities for technology transfer/testing and/or R&D projects; public regional agencies open to consultation of SMEs), their validation and adoption within a Public-Private Partnership approach (PPP);
  • Awareness raising on the importance of building a regional context supportive of innovation;
  • Promotion of collaboration mechanisms and tools among stakeholders; and
  • Building capacities and competencies to run and manage policy tools.

Rationale
Companies that compete better and are successful in international markets bring wealth to the region where they are located. They require innovation, which is only possible if there is an environment conducive to such a process.

BRIDGE is a unique opportunity for capacity building at an institutional level to create a sustainable approach to innovation and entrepreneurship. Based on the identification of company and market needs and the establishment of sound links between academia and industry, the project tackles the following strategic issues:

  • Understanding of opportunities for innovation activities stemming from the recognition of mutual needs in terms of technology requests and exploitation of R&D results;
  • Understanding of innovation support mechanisms based on a market-driven approach;
  • Facilitation of access to operational details of international best practices to build capacities of local support organisations; and
  • Upgrading of competences for partner organisations, companies and universities, to facilitate the dialogue between research and industry actors.

Method
Understanding the regional context for innovation to collect updated and relevant information and data on research-industry co-operation needs and opportunities:

  • Assessment of regional R&D profiles (who is doing what and in what specific areas);
  • Analysis of R&D supply and demand, assessment of knowledge inputs and outputs, and pilot technology assessments on selected companies;
  • Regional Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis;
  • Identification of gaps between R&D supply and demand.

Accessing international best practices in the area of collaborative activities between universities and companies to make use of frontier knowledge in the design of new innovation support mechanisms:

  • Identification, analysis and selection of best practices;
  • Study tours to the Dominican Republic, Italy and UK;
  • Organisation of ‘Knowledge Circles’ (regular informal meetings where stakeholders from the research sector, industry and relevant institutions share their views on a specific innovation challenge and identify potential co-operation opportunities);
  • Adaptation and transfer of selected best practices into suitable mechanisms and tools in the framework of current policy practices in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Design of new innovation supporting policy mechanisms to favour research and industry co-operation, capitalising on detailed knowledge gained through the analysis and best practices transfer activities, as well as experiences from study tours:

  • Feasibility studies detailing for each support mechanism: objectives, roles of the relevant regional stakeholders, governance model, implementation plan, budget and source of funding, and monitoring system;
  • Preparation of operational guidelines for the implementation of the support mechanisms.

International conferences to give visibility to BRIDGE activities and show examples of support to academia-industry collaboration in innovation processes.

Pilot testing of new innovation support mechanisms, aimed at: validating and refining the newly identified and designed support mechanisms; building consensus among regional key stakeholders; and training regional partner organisations, associations and universities using a learning-by-doing approach based on coaching:

  • Awareness-raising actions and press campaigns to ensure the needed level of stakeholder commitment;
  • Capacity and consensus building workshops;
  • Implementation of pilots by multidisciplinary working groups to test the support mechanisms; contests to select R&D success stories and results; coaching of start-up entrepreneurs; advice and technical support for the preparation of collaborative R&D projects;
  • Compilation of final recommendations for future implementation.

Outputs

  • Two country strategic reports (Dominican Republic, Haiti) on regional innovation profiles and opportunities for academia-industry co-operation.
  • Handbooks for the implementation of support mechanisms to favour research and industry co-operation in innovation-related projects/activities.
  • 24 Knowledge circles (12 per country) organised.

Outcomes

  • Capacities enhanced at institutional level in providing innovation support.
  • New innovation mechanisms adopted by current support policy practice.
  • PPP approach established to deal with innovation processes.
  • Collaboration agreements between universities and companies celebrated.
  •  International exposure of companies, university departments and research centres.
Grant: FED/2009/217071
Project duration: 24 months (from 10/11/2009 to 09/11/2011)- CLOSED
EC funding: EUR 837,343.91
Total budget: EUR 985,110.48
Project contact:

Mr. Marcos Troncoso
eMprende, Inc
Incubadora de Negocios Tecnológicos
Autopista Las Americas km 27.5
La Caleta, Boca Chica
Dominican Republic
Tel: +809-738-5005
Fax: +809-738-3713
E-mail: marcos.troncoso [at] gmail.com
Web: http://www.emprende.org.do

BRIDGE
Marcos Troncoso
Rosanna Valerio