Victor Sánchez
Red OTT México
Expert Contributor

Evaluating Technology Transfer to Strengthen Innovation in Mexico

By Victor Gabriel Sánchez | Wed, 04/07/2021 - 13:00

Analyzing innovation and technology transfer indicators allows us to measure how the adoption of technologies in society is helping to solve complex problems at the business, government, and social levels, as well as to evaluate the efficiency of public and private actions to promote science and technology.

The Global Innovation Index, which has published data since 2007, and the U.S. Chamber IP Index, with data published since 2012, serve as two of the most relevant information sources to measure innovation. The analysis of the indicators in these reports allows identifying changes in the technological and scientific innovation in the market and its adoption both at the country level and at the regional level, or by level of economic-social development.

In technology transfer, one of the main references is the annual study on licensing deals that the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) has carried out since 2008. The report presents an analysis of research funding, disclosures, patents, licenses, startups, and benchmarking and measures the impact that technology transfer has in the US and Canada. These annual studies allow the readers to observe the evolution of intellectual property protection and its implementation in society through the various mechanisms of technology transfer.

In Mexico, since 2016, the Mexican Network of Technology Transfer Offices (Red OTT México) has conducted studies that measure technology transfer efforts. This strategic activity, coordinated by Sara Ortiz from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), has been strengthened on a yearly basis to show the ecosystem’s members relevant information about the country’s competitiveness. The reports present an overview of the participating technology transfer offices (TTOs); show the results of their technology transfer mechanisms (technical assistance, training, research and technological development by contract, licensing, and creation of technology-based companies); describe the participation of women in technology transfer; and illustrate how TTOs collaborate in the innovation ecosystem. This article presents brief pieces of information related to the main results of the 2018 and 2019 reports, as well as the infographic of the results obtained in the last study.


During this period, 114 TTOs participated in the annual survey. The offices, which were mainly located in Mexico City, Jalisco, Yucatan, Veracruz, and Morelos, were mostly institutes of higher education, research centers, and private organizations.

During the period of analysis, patents were the most widely used protection mechanisms for intellectual property, registering 114 patents granted nationally and internationally in sectors such as energy, health, and materials.  During the same period, 176 technology licenses, with major concentration in energy and biotechnology, were carried out, while 217 technology-based companies were founded, mainly in the fields of health, information and communications technologies, biotechnology, and energy.

At present, Red OTT México is collecting the information related to technology transfer activity in 2020. The results, which will be presented during the second half of 2021, will provide researchers and members of the ecosystem with data to conduct longitudinal analyses over a five-year span.

The results of the technology transfer activity in Mexico identified in these indicators show that various companies and organizations today strengthen their productivity and competitiveness due to the integration of technology applied in strategic sectors. Furthermore, new technology-based companies are being formed every year to bring the results of applied research to the market.  These companies are created by researchers and entrepreneurs who are interested in developing their offers and directly commercialize them to their selected consumers.

Mexico has advanced in its ranking in the Global Innovation Index during the last two studies; however, technology transfer in Mexico continues to face significant challenges to advance in its maturation and consolidation process. Hence, the importance of continuing with the measurement of annual indicators and even visualizing their depth in the coming years to achieve the following goals:

  1. To evaluate the characteristics of technology transfer in the various geographic regions in Mexico and identify the strengths that each of the regions may possess in selected sectors.
  2. To develop sectoral studies to identify the specific technological areas in which innovation is concentrated.
  3. To extend the evaluation of indicators to other countries, identify how these indicators compare with those of Mexico, and to generate international studies of technology transfer. A specific case is Alianza del Pacífico, which conducts a comparative analysis among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru with the objective to strengthen public policy in science, technology, and innovation.

Understanding how technology is transferred in Mexico and what characteristics national TTOs possess will be relevant to promoting innovation in the country.

Photo by:   Victor Sánchez