OTTs & Business Chambers: Solving Industry Tech Needs TogetherBy Victor Gabriel Sánchez | Tue, 08/24/2021 - 15:05
Academic institutions and industrial players have long faced significant barriers to their effective collaboration: complex and bureaucratic academic structures; failures in bilateral communication actions; blurring between basic research and applied research; decrease in public and private budgets allocated to research and development; and prioritizing technology acquisition versus technology development.
In technology transfer, a market-pull strategy exists when an organization (applicant) defines a specific need (product or service) and communicates it to third parties, which may be able to fulfill that need with their portfolio of assets and skills. The applicant may have ample knowledge of his area of participation (position within the supply chain); however, he/she might not have the resources to generate new solutions. In this case, the applicant needs to look for technological experts who can provide novel and differentiating ideas. In summary, a market-pull innovation is market-driven.
On the other hand, a technology-push strategy runs in the reverse direction. In this scenario, the institutions that generate knowledge (universities, research centers, companies) propose technological solutions based on their capacities and expertise. These solutions do not typically have a defined application from their origin, so they are adapted during the research and development process to serve a specific need. In summary, a technology-push innovation is promoted by the technology itself.
Both strategies are effective, yet they have different scopes. For Xavier Ferrás, the market-pull generally seeks improvements in existing technological offers; as a result, incremental innovations are common since they allow companies to improve their market position in an already-known strategic arena. Through technology-push, companies often explore innovative and uncertain paths based on experimentation that may disrupt the previous knowledge. In Latin America, it is often seen that universities and research centers that employ the technology-push strategy possess a significant number of intellectual property mechanisms in abandonment, or without licensing, as a result of not finding a specific and profitable application.
On the one hand, it is essential to generate, and strengthen, flexible and dynamic collaboration models centered on developing the technology that society needs. It is also crucial to approach organizations (private, public, nonprofit) to learn about their needs and to identify alternative solutions to respond. On the other hand, organizations need to integrate technology management into their strategic decision processes to allow them to analyze their environment, identify technological solutions that address their most complex problems and integrate collaborative innovation schemes that take advantage of the experience, infrastructure and resources already in place in the ecosystem.
At this time, the main business chambers in Mexico have integrated innovation commissions into their structure, recognizing the relevance that this topic has on the productivity and competitiveness of their members. Some of the most relevant actions these chambers have advanced include digitalization of the industry, development of skills in the organization, articulation with the innovation ecosystem and incorporation of specialized talent.
Within the Red OTT México, Carlos Maynor and Marcela Castillo, directors of business liaison and government liaison, respectively, have started working with different business chambers and in various sectors to promote the collaboration between OTTs and industrial players Mexico. This strategy focuses on three specific objectives that incorporate short, mid, and long-term actions:
- Promotion of technology management that integrates training programs, specialized forums, and publication of relevant content to increase the innovation culture within companies.
- Cooperation for the development of consortium projects through the communication of technological capabilities by sector/region in the country, as well as the definition of specific innovation programs.
- Collaboration to promote innovative actions that strengthen public policy in science, technology, and innovation as well as the coordination with international organizations specialized in these topics.
This past July, CANACINTRA and Red OTT México signed a collaboration agreement focused on promoting technology transfer among the members of this business organization (53,000 organizations distributed in 14 regions). Some of the key actions within the program include identifying technological needs and matchmaking them with technological offers present within the members of Red OTT México; cooperation to define joint innovation projects; generation of content specialized in innovation topics for members of the chamber; and promotion of specialized training courses in innovation.
Important challenges are expected in a greater relationship with companies through their business organizations. These challenges will have to be addressed from a collective and constructive perspective; three in which work can start have been identified: generating spaces for idea-generation between OTTs and companies in which cross-cutting problems may arise and be addressed through technological solutions; implementing staggered technology transfer actions depending on the level of assimilation of technology that companies have in an association; and sectoral integration that allows a rapprochement of technological capabilities by region.
It is relevant at the level of technology transfer to continue promoting actions that link the institutions that generate applied knowledge with those organizations that seek differentiation and positioning strategies in innovation. Promoting the market-pull strategy in Mexico through a more effective approach with the industry will allow for a greater introduction of incremental innovation in various sectors, as well as the opening toward a culture of innovation that integrates disruptive changes in its various processes.