University-Industry Interaction in the Innovation Social Network of the Valparaiso Region in Chile

José Maldifassi
Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

Ricardo Stambuk
Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

Based on the concept that technological innovation is a social process , a study was carried out to characterize and assess the innovation social network of the Valparaiso region in Chile . The network found has in total 85 agents and 110 undirected connections. Among the agents in it is worth mentioning six universities, 50 firms, and three regional R&D centres. As a result of this study, it was found that two born-regional universities occupy the central most nodes of the innovation social network, together with the regional offices of the Chilean Government Development Corporation CORFO. The overall results of this study have been published in Maldifassi, J.O. and Stambuk M., R.A. (2018), ‘Characterisation and assessment of the technological innovation network of the Valparaíso Region in Chile’, Int. J. Innovation and Regional Development, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp.159–178. Here, only the university-industry interaction conclusions are presented.
Of the 110 innovation-related linkages among the network agents, 25 of them have been between these two central most universities and regional firms. The other four regional universities have in total 11 innovation related linkages, in a proportion of 1:5 linkages per university compared with the other two. Because of this significant difference between the two sets of universities, a comparison of their characteristics is made, in order to understand the possible reasons behind this significant difference.
In the survey carried out, managers of the 50 regional innovative firms were asked, among other things, about the most important regional agents that would drive regional innovation. This data was analysed by means of factor analysis. The results show that the organizations that exhibit the highest loading on the first factor, that in turn explains the largest percentage of the data variance, are regional research centres. Universities, generically identified among the regional innovation driving agents, exhibited moderate loadings on two of the three factors found, indicative of a transversal and supportive role, rather than a highly relevant and specific one. As this finding contradicted the central role of the two universities mentioned, a more detailed analysis was performed. The explanation found for this discrepancy is that regional research centres belong and are managed by the regional universities; therefore, the highly relevant impact that these universities have is derived by the specific activities and services that these regional research centres offer to local firms, and not as a consequence of the mere presence of these universities in the region.
The overall conclusion of this analysis is that in order to increase the impact that regional universities have on local firms’ effectiveness, they should establish specialized research centres that would offer solutions and guidance to particular regional firms´ problems and needs. The mere presence and general capabilities of the regional universities are not enough to help in this endeavour.