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Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

Innovation has always been deeply embedded at the heart of the Universidad de los Andes. From the very core of the institution –it’s mission statement– can be seen to play a key role: “the University of the Andes is an autonomous, independent and innovative institution that fosters pluralism, tolerance and respect for ideas [...]”

Student innovation and entrepreneurship is highly endorsed in certain faculties, both inside and outside of the classroom. The Business and Design Schools are the leaders in the creation and implementation of I&E opportunities in the classroom, with the Industrial Engineering department trailing not far behind. More and more, courses and study programs have been modified in order to further interest and expose students to I&E. These courses teach students the importance of keeping their minds open to everything I&E has to offer, and help them harvest finer entrepreneurial skills. Some of these courses have students dedicate the whole semester’s work to developing a project of their choosing, while others expose them to real-life cases and make them think outside the box.

Even though most projects deviate and stay in just dreams, there are participation circles that step in to help student entrepreneur. These include Empreandes, which helps them ideate a stronger and more innovative core at the beginning of their entrepreneurship , and Centro de emprendimiento, where certified mentors asses them with interactive workshops and business-oriented makerspace. Also, when students need guidance through their entrepreneurial process, big scale entrepreneurship accelerators like Despega Colombia, can help propel a student’s own particular idea.

Universidad de Los Andes has a variety of tools and groups that promote students throughout the entire process of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

Faculty innovation and entrepreneurship is encouraged a matter of great relevance at the Universidad de Los Andes. Given its long-established national renown as the pioneer university in terms of R&D, it was just a matter of time before innovation and entrepreneurship ensued as a practice and became key to the faculty production at Los Andes. At the moment, investigative portfolios and academic production from the faculty members is classified in one of 5 big topics that help the nation at a macro level:

  1. Neuroscience
  2. Gender studies
  3. Historic environmental analysis
  4. Investigations for peace
  5. Corruption

Additionally, the University also provides teachers –not just students– with practical tools to develop their profiles as entrepreneurs and innovators. For example, many schools facilitate student-teacher contact and courses in order to work on investigation related to their careers and interests. Another example is Conécta–TE(an entrepreneurship epicenter dedicated to innovation in education and technology), which offers the course “Conecta-TE en Vacaciones”: an institutional initiative that seeks to provide the teachers of the University of Los Andes with spaces to design innovations that can be applied in their classes.

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function 

The Universidad de Los Andes is currently working on developing a strong Technology Transfer Office. At the moment, the university relies on the Office for Technology and Knowledge Transfer (OTTC, for its initials in Spanish) to carry out the functions of an institution with this reason of being. The OTTC currently encourages the members of the university to create patents, work with outside businesses with which the university holds alliances, and interact with non-profits and other organizations, in order to commercialize the different creations of the university’s student community’s leaders.

Unfortunately, most of the students have not been exposed to its dynamics and even its purpose, mostly because not everyone is interested in using this resource. Therefore, there is a lack of information regarding its existence. It is of great importance for the University to improve the reach and the acceptance of this program within the University environment.

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

Many programs at Universidad de Los Andes have established strategic alliances with different key partners in the industry. These alliances have proved to be really effective, since they have paved the way for hand-in-hand work between the University and the industry. Students are also encouraged to take part in these projects since by taking parts of  research groups of their pertaining major.

There are also some student-created spaces that serve the same purpose. Despega Colombia, mentioned above, is a perfect example of these partnerships since it’s a hybrid between an entrepreneurship accelerator and incentivates real-life competition. This is a prime example of how students and faculty may start weaving bonds with the industry, recognizing the mutual benefits that ensue from such collaborations.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

Analyzing the contact between the University and both the regional and local communities is key to understanding just how important the institution’s efforts are in kindling economic development. Many social, cultural and political issues are constantly debated by the University’s top academics and the students of the postgraduate programs. These think-tanks have proven an ample spectrum of characteristics. For example, the Industrial Engineering department has the “COPA” lab, oriented to technical problem solving, while the Politics Observatory of the Governmental Issues’ School, dedicated its time to social issues.

Another relevant example is the “Progresa Fenicia” Project. The Fenicia initiative aims to revitalize the community neighboring the campus by responding to the challenge of an urban transformation and engaging students in activities that generate positive externalities on the Fenicia neighborhood inhabitants, such as revamping the local economy while bearing in mind their interests.

Related Links

Landscape Canvas 2017:

Landscape Canvas 2018:

Universidad de los Andes Student Priorities: Universidad de los Andes Student Priorities

Student Contributors