OpenBeauchef: making the case for an open innovation ecosystem at Universidad de Chile’s Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

How to add value and impact to industry engagement, innovation and entrepreneurship at the oldest and largest engineering school in your country? We created an open innovation unit from scratch, and present here the challenges and opportunities in making it work.

James McPhee
Universidad de Chile

Felipe Nancupil
Universidad de Chile

Paulina Concha
Universidad de Chile

Giselle Miranda
Universidad de Chile

Background and objectives of the case
The Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Universidad de Chile, at 175 years since its foundation, is the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. It combines all major branches of engineering, plus physics, astronomy, geology and geophysics, in a virtuous ensemble that trains highly sought-after engineers and scientists. In a country with low investment in science and technology, with a very modest participation of the private sector in R&D initiatives, the Faculty has nevertheless been able to contribute significant, high-quality research output at the international level, and to build long-lasting collaborations with industry and public sector partners. However, we feel that the institution has not reached its full potential. Industry engagement in the undergraduate and graduate teaching process is limited in scope and visibility, and private sector participation in science- and technology-based innovation processes within the university shows enormous room for improvement. Therefore, the objective of the OpenBeauchef program is to develop tools and procedures for enabling a qualitative change in students experience and skills upon graduation, as well as to maximize the impact of university research through effective technology development and transfer, through close involvement of industry partners throughout the teaching and R&D processes.