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 10 locations in Montevideo in Parque Batlle Neighbourhood; there are two other campuses, in Punta Del Este and Salto.
The university is first divided into six Academic Units:
- Health Sciences
- Business Sciences
- Law and Human Sciences
- Engineering and Technologies
- UCU Business School
- Graduate School
The university is divided into departments:
- Administration and Business
- Wellness and health
- Exact and Natural Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Organizational Studies
- Humanities and communication
- Neuroscience and learning
There are eight specialized centres:
- Ludus Center
- Continuing Education Center
- Language Center
- Methodological Center
- Ignis Center
- Agora Center
- Ithaka Center
- Berit Center
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, IthaKa(Innovation and Entrepreneurship centre), and Students Affairs department 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.
In 2020 a group of students interested in innovation, gathered to notice problems happening at that time in university and think of creative solutions. This was called the Innovation Community.
Ithaka ,working together with the Communications Department,started to organize a Hackaton called “Suma Innovación a tu Carrera” ( literally “Add Innovation to your career” ) in which last year students from different high schools participate in a innovative hackaton where they can win scholarships to study at the university.
Since 2020, the University has added some events and regular inspiration events like a new podcast called "Entrepreneurial wave" and the Open Sessions for entrepreneurs .Furthermore, a new project called “Intervalos” was launched this year, and it consists of students interviewing local business leaders like CEOs,and sharing it on live via Zoom meetings.
Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship:
When a student has an idea and wants to pursue it, it is extremely important to have the university's support and guidance.
This is the reason why IthaKa, our I&E center was created. IthaKa`s 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 already created many entrepreneurs and innovators. For instance, Sebastian Fernandez, an Engineering student of UCU, together with íthaka's help and support founded a successful enterprise called TuPase. TuPase is an App that allows companies to involve their employees in physical activity by providing access to the largest network of sports centers in Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Panama. /big>
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.
IthaKa not only offers a wide variety of workshops for circular economy entrepreneurs but also competitions for students to develop the innovation part during their studies such as “Suma innovación a tu carrera” or “Tecnolog”. For those who need some mentoring, IthaKa also helps find someone through its mentoring innovation program.
Facilitating university-industry collaboration
UCU facilitates the relationship between industry and the university in multiple ways, some of which are described below.
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. This program launches a call to help eight companies, where in three months they assign them a mentor who has experience in the area each project needs, the programm counts with 25 academic staff as mentors. In fact, the seed funds competitions have a designated budget for Ithaka’s members. Also, Ithaka offers legal mentoring by a lawyer and professor of the university.
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, a few years ago, organized activities to facilitate validation with incubators. An example of this was IdeasLab, a pre-incubation program, where mentoring, tutoring and training were given by mentors who help validate the participant ́s business plan.
Moreover, as UCU believes that social responsibility and engagement is important, it promoted with Ithaka a program called “Circular Opportunities” that provided tutorships and training to entrepreneurs trying to address social and environmental problems. These programs are no longer available in the university, but those mentioned above have increased their impact on the entrepreneurial area of the university.
Job opportunities facilitators
“Feria Laboral” is an annual event. It is mainly a fair whose 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. In addition, in the last year, a job portal has been developed, where students can upload their curriculum and discover job proposals that suit their skills.
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 adapt 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.
As a way to promote an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in students, UCU has a wide variety of offers regarding work practices. In most majors, internships are offered in external companies for students who are about to finish their studies. In some departments, students are invited to carry out projects in collaboration with companies and with academic staff, as are the base of audiovisual technicians, the UCU business in company and the original content production line programs.
The engineering department has the engineering promotion fund by the ANII to promote engineering projects and many of the final year students chose to do the entrepreneurship variant of the final project.
And last but not least, there is a program offered by the graduate school named Capstone, where professional practices are supported, given that are mandatory for every graduate student.
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.
In turn, the Ithaka center has launched two competitions, Tecnolog and Kenn S George to promote and help the different entrepreneurs that apply. These are two workshops where the teams that submit their projects will be trained and the winner will obtain seed capital for their entrepreneurship.
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.
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