Science and Technology Parks play a strategic role as articulator for interactions between Universities, Industries and Government. In Paraguay, the Itaipu Technological Park (ITP-PY) promotes an innovation culture in articulation with Government, Academia, Companies and Society, to contribute to integral and sustainable development of the country through technological innovation and knowledge transfer.
Recently, some initiatives of collaboration between Universities, Industries and Government were identified in Paraguay, representing a spark for the National Science, Technology and Innovation System, where linking-up these sectors was a main issue to consider. In 2017, the ITP-PY started taking a very relevant role, asking questions such as, “Which are the main particularities in our local ecosystem?” “Which are the most relevant local initiatives in this field?” “Can we effectively connect our research to innovation and solve our complex problems?”Of course we can, we are Paraguayans! However, we needed to start discussing HOW. As a first step, the ITP-PY evaluated the main internal programs, proposals and ideas that stimulate interactions between the mentioned sectors. Here, we started developing a local framework of tools and mechanisms, based on specific Research, Development and Innovation projects, to iteratively test the designed framework on relevant knowledge and business fields that could improve identified particularities of the current local collaboration ecosystem .
At the same time, we identified that several other Paraguayan organizations already knew that strengthening interactions and complementing institutional missions should reflect in an efficient and productive innovation ecosystem. In this case, strategic partnerships may represent great opportunities for the development of the country, and further advance our first initiatives. Here, another challenge appeared: “WHERE can Paraguayan organizations meet to discuss about challenges, and subsequently start related strategic partnerships in different relevant productive sectors?” We needed a SPACE for this. Inspired in what we saw is happening around the world, presenting our research work and experiences [1,2,3], in 2018 the ITP-PY accepted the challenge to create this space in Paraguay, organizing the 1st Paraguayan Workshop for the University-Industry-Government Interaction.
The 1st Paraguayan Workshop for University-Industry-Government Interaction was a huge success, including more than 300 participants on national and international keynote sessions and discussion panels on Strategic Issues for Development, Energy and Information and Communications Technology. In a two-day workshop, we received more than 50 local institutions and more than 25 papers were presented. The most valuable result was creating that SPACE, the WHERE to start discussing the HOW. Creating this SPACE has let us see several emerging initiatives, all aiming for the same goal: proposing-experimenting-improving ways to effectively and efficiently interact with another sector to complement particular requirements. Here, a quote from Alvin Toffler should perfectly describe our vision: “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction”.
Strategic partnerships, in most cases, improve a vision on addressing a particular problem. For our case, we decided to continue improving our first prototype framework  by building strategic partnerships with relevant institutions on each specific considered knowledge and business fields. A Technical Cooperation Agreement, recently signed with the Paraguayan Chamber of Software Industry (CISOFT), is a clear example that building long-term partnerships is an effective way for further advance a particular challenge. We are also expanding our initiatives to other countries in LATAM, looking to extend particularly the South American network.
REFERENCES: Fabio López-Pires, Ariel Guerrero, “Promoting technology-based startups from University-Industry-Government interactions. An agile and flexible framework of the Itaipu Technological Park”. University-Industry Interaction Conference (UIIC 2017). Ireland.  Gustavo Riveros-Godoy, María Teresa Peralta, Myriam Torres, “Internship program at Itaipu Technology Park – Paraguay: Successful experience in the engineering field”. University-Industry Interaction Conference (UIIC 2017). Ireland.  Fabio López-Pires, Raúl Vazquez, Gustavo Riveros. “A novel internship program to promote University-Industry-Government interactions in Paraguay”. University-Industry Interaction Conference (UIIC 2018). United Kingdom.
Author: Fabio López Pires currently works on University-Industry-Government Interaction initiatives at the Itaipu Technological Park in Paraguay, where he also coordinates the Center for Innovation in Education.
Image Credit: Itaipu Technological Park
(Agreement of Technical Cooperation. Authorities of ITP-PY and CISOFT)