Chilean researchers move into the business world

A new generation of academics is beginning to rise in Chile, looking to step out of the laboratory and into sphere of innovation and entrepreneurship.

One of the goals of Corfo’s Transferencia Tecnológica is to breach the gap between the world of research and the world of business. Photo by Corfo / Facebook.
One of the goals of Corfo’s Transferencia Tecnológica is to breach the gap between the world of research and the world of business. Photo by Corfo / Facebook.

In recent years, Chile has successfully supported the rise of the micro-business with financial incentives to help business pioneers turn their ideas into economically sound realities.

In a bid to continue building on these advancements, Chile is now actively encouraging expert researchers to make their mark as business entrepreneurs. Leading Chilean investigators are laying down their pens and paper and are managing their own financially lucrative projects instead.

One example of a past success story is that of Carlos Irarrázabal, Biochemist from the Universidad de Los Andes. Together with the business support of Aurus and Andrómaco, he was able to co-found the company Kinostics in 2012. Kinostics is a firm dedicated to the development of products linked to kidney problems.

“The experience of being co-founder was a complex process. The main challenge was to get passed the technical language barriers, which were eventually overcome. A key element was the Development and Innovation Unit in the University of The Andes, which allowed us to consolidate negotiations,” Irarrázabal told Diario Financiero.

Kinostics has already managed to pass the validation test, via a study which included the assistance of 200 patients, and in March the intention is to apply for a patent in the US, Europe and Latin America, where the company hopes be given permission to begin using the technology.

Avonni is one of the programs in Chile which has been encouraging researchers to step out of laboratories and into business meetings. Founded in 2007 with the support of the Ministry of Economy and the National Television of Chile, offers four annual awards for Business Innovation, Innovative Business Idea, Public Innovation and Innovator of the Year.

“Culturally, initiatives like Avonni or others have highlighted innovation as a primary goal, generating mechanisms of professional recognition for researchers,” Darío Morales, the Sub-Director of Transferencia Tecnológica, told Diario Financiero.

Transferencia Tecnológica forms part of InnovaChile, a project managed by Corfo — a public-sector organization in Chile dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and the development of small businesses. Morales believes that Transferencia Tecnológica has had a very positive impact on small business institutions in Chile.

“We have generated a very good portfolio of projects with potential in the market,” Morales affirmed.

Álvaro Acevedo, Manager of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sofofa — the Federation of Chilean Industry, a private, non-profit organization — agrees wholeheartedly with the positive views expressed by Morales. He believes that the incorporation of researchers into the business world can only help to strengthen Chile’s economic footprint globally.

“It’s important to incorporate this thing called entrepreneurship within laboratory walls because there are nations such as Switzerland whose economic base is exalted for its applied investigation. Advanced research could be the source of progress in Chile,” Acevedo told Diario Financiero.

Experts believe that the developing interest researchers are showing in the business world is part of a natural process. Chile’s business innovations are maturing, thanks to the creation of new programs including Transferencia Tecnológica and Go To Market — another project managed by Corfo which offers capacitation support and the chance to travel to Silicon Valley in order to learn techniques for the commercialization of new technologies.

Even though Go To Market is an initiative which has been marketed towards businesses, universities and institutions, the presence of researchers on the program has notably increased over the past three years. The proportion at present stands at 1:1 between business entrepreneurs and investigators who are selected to make the international trip.

The third calling for interested innovators took place in 2013 for those hoping to get on the Go To Market program. An impressive 70 percent of the total number of entries came from university students alone. The research field in Chile has switched on to the possibilities available in the business world and the results stand to be very positive for the country.