Tec de Monterrey’s entrepreneurship model is hailed as a success story in a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and Santander Universities.
This Tec case study is part of the “Innovative and Entrepreneurial Universities in Latin America” report, which includes universities that collaborate with their productive ecosystems, innovate, and support entrepreneurs.
“We have always sought to make entrepreneurship a first-order activity for the benefit of our students, professors, and the community,” said José Manuel Aguirre, Director of Alliances and Technology Parks at the Eugenio Garza Lagüera Institute of Entrepreneurship.
“When people on the outside start to notice this, when the OECD comes and says: ‘I’m interested in your model as a success story’ from among several Latin American universities, it’s recognition that brings us considerable pleasure,” he added.
The report was presented to the Tec community as part of the International Conference of Knowledge and Innovation (ciKi) on November 8 at the Main Hall of the Rector’s Building on Monterrey campus.
Recognizing the Tec’s entrepreneurship model
Driving and promoting entrepreneurship education, connecting with actors in the ecosystem, and projects and initiatives that help strengthen companies and the ecosystem were some of the reasons why the Tec ecosystem was considered a success story.
“As an institution, we believe entrepreneurship is an attribute that enables people to change and transform the community,” added Aguirre.
Some of the concepts outlined in the case study include:
1. Entrepreneurship education
The analysis outlined that the Tec has comprehensive curricular coverage of entrepreneurship education activities, with Tec21 Model courses for developing entrepreneurial skills among all the institution’s students.
The Tec21 Model is based on challenge-based learning with flexibility, inspiring professors, and a memorable student experience.
It also offers programs, courses, and workshops at graduate level in entrepreneurship and innovation for Master’s and PhD students.
“In our educational model, entrepreneurship subjects aren’t just for the curious, but rather the entrepreneurship model can be found in all programs and available to all students at different levels of sophistication or depth,” said the director.
What’s more, the institution organizes over 300 activities to promote entrepreneurial spirit among its community, such as hackathons, boot camps, and international events such as the INCmty Festival.
The Tec has also developed a model that includes four types of professors:
- Teaching professors
- Research professors
- Entrepreneurial professors
- Extension professors
These are evaluated according to their roles, such as their teaching work, publications, intellectual property production, knowledge transfer, and consulting work for external organizations.
The study also highlights that The Princeton Review, one of the most prestigious university rankings in this area, has placed the Tec among the Top 10 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship for 4 consecutive years.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tec also implemented an “SOS Program” for SMEs, training some 800 companies to digitalize their processes. Students and professors participated in this program, collaborating as mentors to these businesses.
2. Connection with the entrepreneurial ecosystem
This case study highlights that the Tec is highly connected to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, through mentoring programs, training, and consulting services for business owners, investors, organizations, and governments at various levels.
It indicates that this is possible through the Eugenio Garza Lagüera Institute of Entrepreneurship, which also offers acceleration options for startups, prototype-development programs, and challenges for entrepreneurs.
The institute is in charge of running the INCmty Festival, which promotes networking among business leaders, young entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, and students with over 250 initiatives a year.
INCmty is the #1 entrepreneurship and business festival in Latin America and is organized by Tec de Monterrey.
This institute also supports initiatives such as the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to identify and propose projects for promoting social and economic growth.
What’s more, the Tec has 21 business incubators and 11 entrepreneurship and innovation parks that have graduated over 4,000 new companies since 2002, receive funding from private investors, and are managed by the institution.
“The infrastructure and network we’ve built isn’t new. Towards the end of the 90s, we started with the incubators, and having over 20 incubators in a university system today is an accomplishment,” shared Aguirre.
This study highlights that the Tec has taken advantage of its presence in several cities throughout the country at its 25 campuses to maximize its impact through relationships with different actors such as local and regional governments and business communities.
“We have always sought to make entrepreneurship a first-order activity for the benefit of our students, professors, and the community.” - José Manuel Aguirre
3. Knowledge transfer
Knowledge transfer at Tec de Monterrey is included in its 2025 Strategic Plan and 2030 Vision, and has occurred through innovation and research, with extension services and programs for designing better products and services.
The case study indicates that knowledge transfer at the institution occurs through three components:
- Technology transfer and licensing with start-up creation.
- Promoting entrepreneurial skills and incubation services to young graduates.
- Continuous education and consulting via professors and experts at the institution.
Connection with other actors within the ecosystem is also encouraged through knowledge transfer initiatives, such as DistritoTec in Monterrey; collaboration with the Aerospace Cluster in Querétaro; or the Chihuahua campus’ technology park.
The study also outlines that the Tec has fostered a culture of knowledge transfer by implementing indicators and incentives, for example, so that professors can choose career paths and have space for development.
What’s more, as part of a globalization strategy, the Tec promotes partnerships with other institutions and participates in global university networks to exchange knowledge that is later shared at national, regional, and local levels.
“We have to be connected, because someone (in another region) may have already learned something that can help us in a certain process or technology. It’s essential for us to have a global and internationalization mindset,” said the director.
A report on entrepreneurship in universities
Via videoconference, María Sobrón, Policy Analyst at the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Cities and Regions, presented the study on the best entrepreneurial practices of Latin American universities.
“We noticed an interest in conducting a study about the great strides that Latin American universities are making in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation. We began the study in 2020 and finished it in October 2022,” said Sobrón.
This study mainly focuses on two aspects of university ecosystems: entrepreneurship education and knowledge transfer and collaboration.
The methodology to select the case studies was carried out using three criteria:
- The type of entrepreneurial ecosystems in which the institutions operate, drawing on IADB and Santander analysis of different ecosystems in the region and interaction with different stakeholders.
- The type of universities, taking into consideration their size, location, and curriculum.
- The universities’ entrepreneurial trajectory, which was selected based on the development of their entrepreneurial agenda over time.
“We have interacted with a community of 22 universities and have selected 11 case studies from different public and private universities that have a very strong entrepreneurial track record,” added the OECD analyst.
In addition to Tec de Monterrey, the selected universities, originating from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Mexico, are as follows:
- University of São Paulo, Brazil
- Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
- Technological University of Uruguay
- 21st Century Business University, Argentina
- ICESI University, Colombia
- Anáhuac University, Mexico
- Pontifical Xavierian University, Colombia
- Adolfo Ibáñez University, Chile
- Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil
- National University of Colombia
The institutions that applied for the review process used the HEInnovate self-assessment tool to measure their capabilities for entrepreneurship and innovation.
“This provides recognition for the entire community. It’s a time for reflection to know what the next step will be. We have to transform ourselves to continue as leaders and also as an example to other institutions,” concluded Aguirre.