From academia to innovation: improving the teaching of entrepreneurship in Ecuador

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). One of the ways CEDIA achieves this is through its Innovation and Technology Transfer (ITT) Team, which is tasked with bridging the divide between academia, the business sector and society. Moving entrepreneurship from the classroom to industry is among the areas of focus for the ITT Team.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor lists Ecuador as one the countries with the highest number of new ventures; however, the reality is that these new star-ups also have a really high failure rate.  CEDIA’s ITT Team identified one of most critical problems contributing to this is how entrepreneurship is taught within universities.

National meeting on entrepreneurship and innovation

Aiming to improve the educational model, CEDIA created the Academic National Meeting on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The first edition of the meeting in 2019 was designed as a workshop where decision-makers from Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), representatives of business associations and members of the public sector developed proposals to be implemented within entrepreneurship curriculums and innovation centres. During this meeting, three main workspaces were identified for teaching entrepreneurship and innovation: curricular syllabus; articulation processes (academia-industry); and educational tools for teachers. Insights for projects, programs, and support needs were also revealed. Based on these insights, three main fields to work on for a second meeting were identified: educational model and strategy; teachers’ profile; and articulation of HEIs and funds for entrepreneurship; with CEDIA actively acting as a support entity for HEIs

This second edition of the meeting took place in 2020 where these topics where discussed; by summarizing the results and insights, attendees reached the conclusion that the great challenge in higher education is to improve the model and create teaching strategies for entrepreneurship and innovation. This challenge was taken up by the attendees who proposed the idea of creating a National Network of Entrepreneurship and Innovation formed by decision makers, teachers, and people in charge of these processes in HEIs. In this way, this network can propose and apply programs and projects within its institutions to tackle the difficulties already identified, as well as challenges in the future.

Collaborating to solve a common challenge

In summary, there have been two editions of the National Meeting. In these two editions, more than 160 people from more than 40 different organizations have been able to work together with a single objective in mind. The processes and talks developed in the two workspaces of the national meeting were guided by experts in education, innovation, entrepreneurship, from institutions such as TEC de Monterrey, Pillow Education, Imagine Creative Center, INCREA, Berkeley Haas and Euroteam Progetti.

This is just the beginning of this initiative, and participants are very enthusiastic about the power of working collaboratively in order to improve the conditions under which entrepreneurs operate, which, without doubt, is one of the main challenges faced by countries for their development in the future.

Published: 05/2021

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