Universities need to provide solutions to the social and economic needs of the region where they are based. Their mission is no longer limited to research and education; instead, they have included a “third” dimension, namely to contribute to the economic growth of their regions (Branscomb, Kodama, & Florida, 1999; Etzkowitz et al., 2000). As a consequence, the role of universities in the national Scienceand Innovation System (SIS) is undeniable.
In the specific context of Ibero-America, they gain even further relevance, as the other agents making up the ecosystem of innovation -mainly firms or the private industry- play a secondary role compared to regions with a similar level of development. This is why it is fundamental to study the contribution of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in such aspects.
The following is an Executive Summary of the book Higher Education in Ibero-America. 2015 Report, which analyzes the transfer of knowledge, the innovation and the entrepreneurship of the IberoAmerican Higher Education Systems (HESs) during the first decade of the 21st century. In order to
improve related aspects, first we need to perform an accurate diagnosis from which to lay the foundation for the appropriate recommendations leading to public and university policies.
The report is divided into chapters analyzing the processes and the contribution of academic R&D. Due to the inconsistencies in the amount of information and its availability among Ibero-American HESs, the analysis has been made individually (country by country), for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and Portugal, or jointly, by groups of countries, thus identifying on one side a group formed by Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Uruguay (Group 1), and, on the other, a group formed by Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Venezuela (Group 2).
These country studies are the basis which the penultimate chapter stems from. It refers to the strong and weak points of the connections between university R&D (Research and Development) and the industry, and it develops a group analysis of the region, allowing us to draw fundamental conclusions and recommend actions to improve the situation, summarized in the last chapter, Considerations and Recommendations for the Design of Policies in R&D&I&E (Research and Development and Innovation and Entrepreneurship). The Executive Summary presented in this document is the result of both chapters.
Following this introduction, the next section describes the human and financial resource endowment allocated to academic R&D. The third section studies to which extent the support of transfer from universities has been institutionalized. Sections four to six present the main results from the HESs measured in terms of publications, patenting activity and entrepreneurship, respectively. Finally, we present the main considerations regarding knowledge transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship in the HESs of the region, as well as the main recommendations that can be drawn from the trends detected in these processes.