The concept of National Innovation Systems (NIS) has been widely adopted in developing countries, particularly in Latin American countries, for the last two decades. The concept is used mainly as an ex-ante framework to organize and increase the dynamics of those institutions linked to science, technology and innovation, for catching-up processes of development. In the particular case of Bolivia, and after several decades of social and economic crisis, the promise of a national innovation system reconciles a framework for collaboration between the university, the government and the socio-productive sectors. Dynamics of collaboration generated within NIS can be a useful tool for the pursuit of inclusive development ambitions.
This thesis is focused on inclusive innovation processes and the generation of co-evolutionary processes between university, government and socio-productive sectors. This is the result of 8 years of participatory action research influenced by Mode 2 knowledge-production and Technoscientific approaches.
The study explores the policy paths the Bolivian government has followed in the last three decades in order to organize science, technology and innovation. It reveals that Bolivia has an emerging national innovation system, where its demand-pulled innovation model presents an inclusive approach. Innovation policy efforts in Bolivia are led by the Vice-Ministry of Science and Technology (VCyT). Moreover, NIS involves relational and collaborative approaches between institutions, which imply structural and organizational challenges, particularly for public universities, as they concentrate most of the research capabilities in the country. These universities are challenged to participate in NIS within contexts of weak demanding sectors.
This research focuses on the early empirical approaches and transformations at Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS) in Cochabamba. The aim to strengthen internal innovation capabilities of the university and enhance the relevance of research activities in society by supporting socio-economic development in the framework of innovation systems is led by the Technology Transfer Unit (UTT) at UMSS. UTT has become a recognized innovation facilitator unit, inside and outside the university, by proposing pro-active initiatives to support emerging innovation systems. Because of its complexity, the study focuses particularly on cluster development promoted by UTT. Open clusters are based on linking mechanisms between the university research capabilities, the socio-productive actors and government. Cluster development has shown to be a practical mechanism for the university to meet the demanding sector (government and socio-productive actors) and to develop trust-based inclusive innovation processes. The experiences from cluster activities have inspired the development of new research policies at UMSS, with a strong orientation to foster research activities towards an increased focus on socio-economic development. The experiences gained at UMSS are discussed and presented as a “developmental university” approach.
Inclusive innovation processes with co-evolutionary approaches seem to constitute an alternative path supporting achievement of inclusive development ambitions in Bolivia.
Karlshamn: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2015. , 99 p.