Case Study—UCF/UAO Strategic Partnership

Building international partnerships, developing dynamic relationships and sharing knowledge

UCF provides expert direction and hands-on guidance to help Colombian university establish vibrant environment for innovation and entrepreneurship

During a recent trip to Central Florida, a team of researchers, entrepreneurs, business incubation representatives and academic leaders from the Universidad The Autónoma de Occidente (Colombia) met with University of Central Florida officials and a variety of business and legislative leaders to better understand the area’s successful academia-technology-business ecosystem.  It was a visit nearly a year in the making and a shining example of the partnerships UCF’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UCF CIE) is developing on an international level.

International Partnership

The UCF CIE team coordinated the visit—which included meetings with local legislators, economic and trade officials, and workshops on commercialization strategies—in an effort to help the Colombian university establish, launch and manage its own technology transfer program.  It’s part of an international partnership between the two universities—one in which the CIE is providing expert direction, sharing knowledge and offering hands-on guidance to the newly established tech transfer team at the Universidad The Autónoma de Occidente.

“We partnered with UCF because of their experience in this field and the work they do as a part of a vibrant entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Orange County,” said Ricardo Lopez, Director of Universidad Autónoma’s Centro Institucional de Emprendimiento Empresarial.


ORC’s tech transfer initiative is serving as a model for the UAO. For its part, the team at ORC is advising its Colombian counterparts on how to develop commercialization plans for technologies developed at UAO. ORC also is providing guidance related to licensing, institutional policies and commercialization strategies. In addition, ORC team members are training UAO technology transfer leadership on effective program methodologies and processes.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for our university and exemplifies the strength and reputation of our technology transfer efforts,” said Tom O’Neal, Ph.D., director of the UCF CIE. “The UCF team has cultivated a fertile ecosystem of innovation and commercialization and now other programs are looking to us as a model.”

Dynamic Relationship

As part of the knowledge-sharing and relationship-building activities for the partnership, CIE team members helped connect UAO officials to a variety of key entities during the Central Florida visit, including the mayor of Orange County, other government representatives and economic development and trade officials.

The UCF-UAO partnership is made possible through $3.5million  in funding support from iNNpulsa, a government funding agency in Colombia.  Rafael Caamano, UCFBI-Winter Springs Site Manager and a team from the UCF CIE to meet and develop relationships with key Colombian officials, including iNNpulsa representatives, last year. Phelps, who serves as an advisor on this knowledge-sharing initiative, explained the importance and complexities of developing international relationships and partnerships.

“In many cultures, including South American cultures, business relies heavily on personal relationships,” she explained. “We started developing the relationships with UAO, other universities in Colombia, and iNNpulsa, when we met with them in Bogota last year. It’s a relationship developed over time and one based on trust and mutual respect. This project with UAO and funding from iNNpulsa is a direct result of that meeting and the relationship we developed.”