Academia-Industry Collaborations in Mexico

There is no doubt that collaboration between universities and research centers with the industry makes a region more competitive. On the one hand, companies must be more competitive, and universities, as generators and disseminators of knowledge, need the industry to “land” their research.

Although there are many studies on the collaboration between academia and industry in developed countries explaining the phenomenon and prescribing best practices, the findings cannot be extrapolated to developing countries.  How is the Mexican situation in the academia-industry collaboration?  We performed a research paper using the state-of-the-art matrix analysis to obtain internal, structural, and environmental factors from the literature [1]. Then, an interpretative structural framework was built as a model to identify opportunities in the collaboration process. The results are presented in a map that describes how each element influences the others and highlights opportunities for improvement.

The model shows that industry triggers collaboration and presents a highly complex internal organization for the academy. This study helps decision-makers in government, academia, and industry to understand the elements and how the system works to develop strategies that promote better collaboration.

On the other hand, the model shows that significant interaction between academia and industry occurs through academia’s services, such as technological extension services and access to qualified personnel, making fundamental to the academic institution the improvement of services and the generation of a professional services portfolio. Also, academic institutions should implement structures that gather information from the industry and market needs, aiming to increase students’ and professors’ participation in industrial projects.

Academic relationships are more complex than industry relationships because it has more factors influencing each other in a more intricated relationship. In most universities in Mexico, research is performed independently from industrial projects, generating good basic-science projects. These projects need adequate personnel to transform them into a project or a service that generates revenue for the university. Academia does not consider its products’ marketing, resulting in low interest from the industry to collaborate. Academia needs to open its structure and change its objectives to acquire experts and resources for the linkage and technology transfer process.

Now, if the reader could help me out with the following questions, we may be heading in the right direction in the academia/industry collaboration:

  • What are the best five academia-industry collaborations that you know, in Mexico, that we can show off?
  • What are those five industries you know that hire engineers because of their skills in developing innovative products and processes?
  • Please name the five scientific or technological developments in Mexico (in the last ten years.)
  • Which one is the scientific-technological area where Mexico is the best – internationally speaking?  What universities or industries are responsible for such accomplishment?

Please let me know your answers in the comments section below.

Let us see how your answers agree with the others.