For over a decade, Europe has been working on improving the performance of Open Innovation (OI) and Knowledge Transfer (KT) to promote a smooth, direct, and successful transfer of its research base, including public research, to a competitive market environment. These efforts have been implemented against a backdrop of increasing recognition of the link between effective and comprehensive KT policies on the one hand; and innovativeness and competitiveness on the other. Based on the knowledge and experience acquired in the European context, this advisory service has sought to provide recommendations aimed at allowing Ecuador to embark on a transformative journey, to build further bridges between its research community and other sectors of society who may benefit from its work.

Ecuador is in possession of a number of significant assets which may lead to the development of a strong and dynamic KT system in the medium-to-long term. It’s a resource-rich country, which has developed an important knowledge based around historically important sectors of the economy such as agriculture, energy and life sciences. It has an important researcher community, much of which is hosted in universities who are increasingly invested in research activities; as well as in public research institutes which have historically acted as bridges between science, the private sector, and the public sector.

Yet, in spite of recent efforts to increase the competitiveness and resiliency of the national economy, Ecuador still faces significant bottlenecks when it comes to ensuring research is translated into practical and marketable solutions. Many of these are directly tied to the key framework conditions which are characteristic of strong KT systems: institutional capacities, availability of financing, a sound regulatory environment, the existence of strong and mature intermediary organizations, and a relevant and coherent policy mix.

In recent years, the country’s main research and innovation government authority, the SENESCYT, has taken important measures to strengthen and develop the national policy mix and regulatory framework in favour of KT. However, SENESCYT’s institutional capacities to address the national innovation system’s existing challenges remain limited. This is mainly due to the limited pool of human and financial resources at its disposal. This has far ranging implications for the country’s KT system as a whole. Most importantly perhaps, it has kept the central government from being able to inject additional resources into enhancing the country’s policy mix and providing direct support to its key stakeholders. It has also limited the government’s ability to steer the country’s researcher community towards existing external international sources of funding, such as the European Union’s Research and Innovation programme.

A more systemic approach is necessary to promote public-private innovation networks, human capital mobility from universities to firms (and vice versa), and a reorientation of universities’ agenda towards the needs of industry and society. Based on the existing policy momentum in Ecuador, a number of further actions could be taken in light of strengthening the country’s KT framework and culture. In this context, it’s recommended that potential measures to improve the general framework conditions may include:

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