School:Universidad Católica del Uruguay

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Catholic University of Uruguay is a private university in Uruguay opened in 1985. It was the only private university in the country for 11 years until 1996. Its full name is Universidad Católica del Uruguay Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga,  and is a work of the Society of Jesus.
Its main campus is spread out in six locations in Montevideo; there are two other campuses, in Maldonado and Salto.
The university is divided into seven departments:
  • Business Sciences department
  • Nursing and Health Technologies department
  • Human Sciences department
  • Law deparment
  • Engineering & Technologies department
  • Odontology department
  • Psychology department

Promoting student innovation entrepreneurship

Universidad Católica del Uruguay believes that innovation and entrepreneurship are of huge importance and, therefore, has various different ways to promote its students to engage in this area. Not only are there courses that indirectly provoke students to feel intrigued and widen their knowledge in this area, but UCU also provides courses, clubs and workshops that facilitate this learning process. Some faculties offer a wider variety of these activities than others but all students, no matter their major, have the possibility to innovate and become an entrepreneur if they desire so.
Particularly, ÍthaKa(Innovation and Entrepreneurship centre), OPITI and Students Affairs are responsible for promoting, mentoring and supporting the students with their ideas and projects. For instance, ÍthaKa centre organized the three-day-long engagement called “Innovatón” in Punta Del Este, where attendees learned the well-known Design Thinking process.
Moreover, UCU has taken part in organizing LOOP an “innovation week” in both 2018 and 2019. LOOP is a week long bootcamp focused on teaching design thinking by tackling down social challenges, targeted to university students and anyone with an interest in innovation and problem solving. 

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship: 

When a student has an idea and wants to pursue it, it is extremely important to have the university support and guidance. 
This is the reason why IthaKa, our I&E center was created. Before this, our university had two different establishments for entrepreneurship: Nexo, offering a pre-incubator service, and CII ( the Center for Innovation and Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering and Technologies). Recently, they associated and formed a new center called Ithaka, which principal aim is to incubate students´ ideas and materialize them.  The main mission of this center is to bring our university community closer to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, promote innovation and creativity for the development of ventures that contribute to the development of a more prosperous, fair and humane society.
In fact, Ithaka has already created entrepreneurs and innovators. For instance, Marcelo Ciaspessoni, a Business Management student of UCU, together with íthaka's help and support founded a successful enterprise called ViajerosUy; this is a tourist agency especialized in adventure activities in Uruguay. 
Students ́ organizations are also highly promoted by Ithaka, proof of this is the Entrepreneur ́s Club at Punta del Este ́s Campus. Here, students from UCU and other universities who would like to become entrepreneurs and already entrepreneurs of the city gather and take part in talks to inspire, teach entrepreneurial skills and promote innovation.

Facilitating university-industry collaboration

UCU facilitates the relationship between industry and the university in multiple ways, some of which are described below.

1. Innovation & Entrepreneurship

There are two main programmes that regulate and connect the entrepreneurship and innovation that takes place in university with real-life organizations, business and markets. The first one is the mentoring program offered by Ithaka. This one supports students, professors, and alumni in developing their ideas in the pursuit of transforming them into entrepreneurs. In fact, the seed funds competitions, have a designated budget for Ithaka’s members.
The second one is the “Ignis Convoca” program, which also gives students support but, at the same time, pushes them to participate in contests regional and international.

The university also organizes activities to facilitate validation with incubators. An example of this is IdeasLab, a pre-incubation program, where mentoring, tutoring and training are given by mentors who help validate the participant ́s business plan.
Moreover, as UCU believes that social responsibility and engagement in important, promotes with Ithaka a program called “Circular Opportunities” that provide tutorships and training to entrepreneurs trying to address social and environmental problems. 

2. Job opportunities facilitators

“Feria Laboral” is an annual event. It is mainly a fair which aim is inserting students into the labour market. This activity consists of a large number of companies from different fields gathered for this day in the university to describe, inform and offer different career opportunities that students can apply for.
There are several  internships available as well,  for students that want to start working at the university, such opportunities include being part of the centers, the administration or the technical support.

3. Work-practice opportunities

Universidad Catolica del Uruguay offers infrastructure and resources for making their own professional practices before graduation.
UCU is currently going through a changing process, the whole university is turning into a more insightful and transversal education center aiming for an interdisciplinary and intercareer process of education and formation. Ucu is trying to make professionals adapted to today’s needs by teaching them that knowing a lot of only one thing is not the best way to approach the work market. Today’s needs require a deep but not professional  knowledge about a vast amount of topics. UCU is making us try to be profesionales at projects and working in teams of different professions rather than solo workers.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

Uruguayan government is helping the startup industry flourish by implementing these institutions : National Agency of Research and Innovation (ANII) and National Development Agency (ANDE). Enhancing this, the Co work spaces and the special Centers dedicated to supporting students, postgraduates and graduates with an entrepreneurial spirit are an important base in the progress of the realization of ideas.
Regarding to ANII, this institution makes available to the public funds for research projects, national and international postgraduate scholarships and incentive programs for innovative culture and entrepreneurship, both in the private and public sectors.
In relation to ANDE,  their aim is to contribute to productive economic development, in a sustainable way, with social equity and environmental and territorial balance.
Ithaka is the Sponsoring Institution of Entrepreneurship (IPE) in front of the National Research and Innovation Agency (ANII) and the National Development Agency (ANDE).
Thanks to the support of ANII and ANDE, Ithaka´s  pre-incubated entrepreneurs will have access to capital to carry out the validation of their idea.

UCU ́s Strategic Plan for the Future

In a diverse and alarming world, we have the challenge of committing ourselves to the creation of sustained value in the relationships and decisions we make daily.
In UCU ́s Strategic Plan, the aim is to be more innovative, creative, inclusive and open to the world. 
When students learn, the sky isn't the limit, therefore UCU is constantly reinventing so that the academic experience is enhanced. UCU is achieving that by providing day to day new courses, careers, or even a new institution (as it is UCU Business School). 
Every day that passes, UCU tries to be a better university, where all the stakeholders contribute to overall sustainable development.

Related Links

Universidad Católica del Uruguay Student Priorities

Fall 2017 Fellows

Julieta Caputo

Sofía Muñiz

Manuel Heslop

Victoria Ferrer

Fall 2018 Fellows 

Agustina Nacimiento

Brian Lorenzo

Maite Serantes

Malena Chiesa

Maria Josefina Martinez

Paola Cabrera

Fall 2019 Fellows

Gianni Martinelli

Julieta Mossian

Camila Massa

Juan Manuel Ave 

Sebastián Wilson

Verónica Sabella 

2019 UCU´s Canvas

Related links