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Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Campus Monterrey

School of Engineering and Sciences

The Progression of Collaborative Technology Projects in an Innovation Ecosystem – The Case of Nuevo León

A thesis presented by

Everardo Nuncio Cuellar

Submitted to the

School of Engineering and Sciences

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science


Manufacturing Systems

Monterrey Nuevo León, October 24th, 2021




Thank you for your unconditional confidence, patience, support, and encouragement to my wife, children, and parents. You were my principal motivation for pushing through this work.




I express my deepest gratitude to all those who have been side by side with me, along with the long but also short hours, at night.

Do not forget the Tecnológico de Monterrey support. Dr. Ahuett, Dr. Urbina, Dr. Güemes on tuition, and Yazaki for the sponsorship most of the time during this degree.



How are collaborative technology projects progressing in Nuevo León?


Everardo Nuncio Cuellar


Collaboration between industry and universities, and research centers has proven to be very effective for developing innovations at the regional level.

This study determines how much the innovation and technological projects between the industry in Nuevo León and the technology extension services are progressing once they decide to collaborate.

This study tries to determine how collaborative technology projects are progressing in Nuevo León; this will determine how they are progressing and measure their effectiveness.

For this matter, we asked the companies in the region, through the regional clusters, with whom they collaborate and the results of these collaborations. We sent a questionnaire (link to google documents) asking if they have collaborated with one or more R&D centers, how many times each, and their project´s Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at the beginning of the collaboration and the ending TRL. The questionnaire results showed that 67% of the reported collaboration projects showed some advance, and from that, the ones that showed an advance, 34% (the higher), increased their TRL in 2 levels.

The responses for the questionnaire showed that the majority of the collaboration’s progress at least two TRL levels, and there were identified projects in all different stages of the TRL except for level 9, meaning that the region offers the capabilities to take the technological projects to the following TRL levels.



Table of Contents

Abstract iv

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

1.1 Motivation 3

1.2 Problem Statement and Context 3

1.3 Research Question 4

Chapter 2 Literature Review 7

2.1 What a cluster is 7

2.2 Clusters in Nuevo León 8

2.3 Regional development 12

2.4 The importance of R&D in a Region 12

2.5 How clusters and companies collaborate 13

2.6 Technology Readiness Level 13

Chapter 3 Methodology 16

Chapter 4 Results 18

Chapter 5 Conclusions 22

Bibliography 24

Appendix 1 - Questionnaire 26

Curriculum Vitae 30



Table of Figures

Figure 1 Chart innovation sub-index ranking ... 4

Figure 2 Inhibition factors for carrying out research projects. ... 6

Figure 3 Technology Readiness Level chart (Andriotto financial services, 2019). ... 16

Figure 4 The process of technology commercialization... 17

Figure 5 Percentage of questionnaire respondent companies per cluster. ... 21

Figure 6 Percentage of questionnaire respondent research centers. ... 22

Figure 7 Percentage of TRL progress from respondents to questionnaire ... 23

Figure 8 TRL growth level. ... 24

Figure 9 Collaboration share per institution. ... 24

Figure 10 TRL initial rank level (%) ... 25

Figure 11 TRL final rank level (%) ... 25

Figure 12 Average TRL growth per R&D center. ... 26

Table of Tables

Table 1. Economic complexity index ECI for selected states in México 2021. 5



Chapter 1 Introduction

Technological development is essential for a wide range of industries, located as we do -in Nuevo León- in a manufacturing region; industry must constantly evolve to fulfill the necessity for better, cheaper, more efficient products and processes.

The research and development (R&D) of technology is how an industry can flourish where it is strongest; otherwise, it is condemned to pay for what others have developed in the industry we are working in. For years, most companies in the area have followed what other companies (manufacturing and research and development -R&D-) have developed as the state of the art in their discipline. The perception of Jalisco’s higher education institutions (IES) (the state where this referenced study took place) regarding the linking processes is undoubtedly vital. For this, the participation of higher education institutes and R&D centers in the processes of linking with companies and government bodies is the basis of cooperation and collaborations that will generate innovation. Based on the “Triple Helix” model (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 1995), there is even talk of a “fourth helix and fifth helix” (Acosta Valdeleón & Carreño Manosalva, 2013), that although, it has not developed. However, mainly the government played a role in encouraging innovation, and from there, it functions as an articulator (Bautista E. G., 2019). (Bautista E. G., 2019) Collaboration between industry and universities, and research centers has proven to be very effective for developing innovations at the regional level. This study determines how much the innovation and technological projects between the industry in Nuevo León and the technology extension services are progressing once they decide to collaborate and identify who collaborates with whom. Over the last twenty years or more, advanced technology has been acquired through what we “discover” by attending conventions and specialized publications and what the equipment fabrication companies offer or show.

Despite that, companies are more oriented to buy than to develop: in 2009, Nuevo León adopted the Law of the Support to Knowledge and Technology for Development in the State of Nuevo León, which determines that the state shall allocate 1% of its budget to science, technology and innovation through government programs (Oxford Business Group, 2017) Results have shown that companies with higher levels of innovation in their business models invest more heavily in specific dimensions of sustainable innovation,



which involve stakeholders and cross-organizational boundaries, requiring proactive attitudes from the company, most likely because this sort of investment gives them greater market competitiveness while also requiring a radical change in their business model. (Kneipp, Gomes, & Kruglianskas, 2021). Results reveal that a company’s partnerships with private firms and government institutions are directly related to the company’s innovation performance. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the R&D partnerships depends on the different institutional logics within which these organizations operate. (Azadegan, Napshin, & Oke, 2013). As the complexity and scope of technical and social challenges increase, solutions must be addressed by collaborative research and intellectual capital sharing efforts involving multiple organizations. One prominent type of research collaborative is the government-university-industry R&D partnership, an organizational form found in many countries. These collaboratives pose particular management challenges, as they must combine researchers’ efforts from very different institutional and organizational cultures to capitalize on their intellectual capital.

(Carayannis, Del Giudice, & Della Peruta, 2014).

Besides, many articles conclude using a decision matrix for a make or buy decision (Medina Serrano, Gonzalez, Gasco-Gasco, & Llopis, 2020) (Puranam, Gulati, &

Bhattacharya, 2006). Other researchers state it cannot be a one-sided decision but a combination of both (Brem & Elsner, 2017); either way, R&D is necessary for any industry to flourish.

In Nuevo León, we have no study on the type of partnerships between industries and research centers and if those benefit both industry and research centers.

This research purpose is to identify if collaborations are in progress and if their results have been value-added by the industry and the R&D.



1.1 Motivation

Monterrey is an important city and industrial pole in Mexico, and the economic context of the region is necessary to be studied in terms of the links between the industry and academia. Therefore, questions arise, as the lack of information is unavoidable; it is difficult to grasp that there was no publicly available information on the quantity and quality of the collaborations between industry and research centers/universities.

1.2 Problem Statement and Context

One of the main obstacles to collaboration between the R&D centers and the industry is that the latter do not know the capabilities of the available R&D centers.

We want to confirm that by directly asking the companies in the region if they are or have collaborated and its collaboration results.

Unless the number of Research and Development centers has increased to 1.8 per 100 thousand persons in 2021, Nuevo León’s number of patents decreased by two positions among México states into the economic sector innovation sub-index. (IMCO, 2021).

As the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness in its 2018 competitiveness report recommends:

Convert universities and higher education centers into markets for innovation.

Incubation for inventor entrepreneurship, technology markets, hackathons, and innovation fairs are instruments that can be used to turn inventions into actual products and services with commercial value. Academics at public and private universities must obtain a margin of profits for work or discoveries that are commercially viable, as is the case in the most successful universities worldwide in the development of patents and innovations (IMCO, 2021).

Change the recruitment criteria of the states’ public and private universities, laboratories, and research centers. Universities, laboratories, and research centers



should not focus on recruiting only researchers from the National System of Researchers (SNI, for its Spanish acronym). A better balance between people who do pure research (SNI) and people who do applied research (patents, utility models, trademark registrations and business methods, copyrights) is more desirable (IMCO, 2021). The ranking in Figure 1 showed that Nuevo León descended in one position in the innovation sub-index ranking from 2020 to 2021, making it seem that innovation and collaboration are not effective or not enough (IMCO, 2021).

Figure 1 Chart innovation sub-index ranking

A helpful indicator is the economics complexity index (ECI) that shows how good the productive capabilities of a region are (i.e., state or county) from the presence of activities (i.e., employment, industries, or exports) in this and other locations. The economic complexity predicts its income level, economic growth, balance, and



greenhouse emissions. The ECI is estimated from export data, employment, and patents and may vary due to the data or source used (DataMexico.org, 2021). It can be seen in the ECI for Nuevo León in Table 1, showing that the state has the most complex economy in Mexico.

Table 1 Economic complexity index ECI for selected states in México 2021



1.3 Research Question

This study aims to determine what companies have technological projects with whom and the degree of improvement among all the technological extension service providers. Therefore, the research questions are:

● What companies are collaborating with whom for technology development?

● What is the degree of improvement for such technological projects?

According to the 2020 National Linkage Survey (From Spanish: Encuesta de Vinculación Nacional), the main inhibition factor in México is that industries do not know the capabilities of R&D centers, as in Figure 2 (DataMexico.org, 2021).

Figure 2 Inhibition factors for carrying out research projects.

However, this thesis examines how the industry in Nuevo León collaborates with R&D centers and universities.

0.0% 5.0% 10.0%15.0%20.0%25.0%30.0%35.0%40.0%

Other None Little willingness of teachers or researchers to…

There are no or very few researchers at the institution Intellectual Property Rights The regulations or procedures Research costs The companies do not know the research projects…

Little interest from companies or organizations Do not have the necessary resources or equipment…

Inhibiting factors for carrying out research projects

Source: 2010 National engagement survey



Chapter 2 Literature Review

In chapter 2, we reviewed the essential concepts for this thesis, what clusters are, what clusters exist in the Monterrey area as well as what research and development centers, what it means regional development, the importance of the mentioned centers in a region, how clusters and research and development centers collaborate between them and how can we measure the progress by a rank named technology readiness level.

2.1 What a cluster is

In recent years, the company clusters have been paving the way for how companies reach and work with the research and development schools and centers to make contact between them and start collaborating.

The word cluster comes explicitly from medieval English and can be translated as

“block” or “heap.” The term does not exist in the Spanish language but is commonly used in English. (Pérez Porto & Merino, 2018)

Innovation has become a fundamental and pivotal element in the advancement of organizations; a cluster is a systematic and organized gather of institutions, being them companies/enterprises (Saraceni, Martins de Resende, & Serpe, 2015), schools and research and development centers, joined with a common interest and the purpose of make grow that interest. A cluster can be defined as a group of interrelated companies that work in the same industrial sector and strategically collaborate to obtain common benefits. The interest in corporate networks is increasing since it is believed that they act as a source of innovation. Innovation is characterized by the use of knowledge (technical, technological), which generates new products, processes, and services and improvements concerning utility, functionalities, or other features. In other words, it means the transfer and dissemination of “ideas, skills, knowledge, information and signs” (dos Reis, 2008) (OECD, 2005).

Companies’ ability to introduce innovations depends increasingly on cooperating with other entities, including competing enterprises. It is indeed understood that the modern economy is a network and the links of this type penetrate all spheres of economic



life. The development of structures and network links is clearly visible in the socio- economic systems. A strong and widely developed network of internal and external entities is, besides the technical and social infrastructure and efficient strategic management, one of the factors determining their international competitiveness. Clusters, often defined by the criterion of networking or even referred to as innovation networks, are certainly a response to contemporary challenges. One of the necessary conditions for creating and developing these structures is the willingness to cooperate by companies operating in the same industry, competing daily. (Wasiluk, 2017)

2.2 Clusters in Nuevo León

Boosting Nuevo León’s competitiveness is a priority activity for its economic growth. For this reason, the continuous development of the innovation and entrepreneurship capacities of each of the elements that make up the region is of great relevance.

When working with integral systems -also called ecosystems- creativity, entrepreneurial talent, collaborative spirit, and social sense must be linked to obtain scalable results. This integration of resources is what makes these ecosystems become triple, quadruple, or quintuple helix. That is to say, this implies a transversal and collaborative work by companies, universities, entrepreneurs, investors, government, and civil society in favor of the establishment of awareness and culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. (CEMEX, 2020)

One of these ecosystems are the industrial clusters, triple helix collaboration groups looking to boost the economic growth of the state, suppliers, promote exports and new business attraction via the development of the companies that are part of them sharing knowledge and best practices as well as joining efforts to develop and improve suppliers. Groups of companies from different industrial sectors seek to potentiate industrial growth through strategic alliances within three central helices: academia, industry, and government. (CEMEX, 2020) there are 14 clusters identified as the most important within Nuevo León.



● Aerospace

● Agrifood

● Automotive

● Biocluster

● Home appliances

● Energy

● Toolings

● MIMEC (Digital marketing and videogames)

● Nanotechnology

● Medical services

● MTYIT, information technology

● Tourism

● Sustainable Housing and Urban Development

A brief description of the most technology-driven clusters is given below.

The aerospace cluster is the leading decision-maker for the aerospace industry and advanced manufacturing in the northeast Mexican region.

Agrifood cluster, prominent families involved in the agricultural meals chain seeking to generate a better future amongst the challenges these companies share in today’s global and local environment by sharing experiences and common needs.

The automotive cluster (CLAUT) is a non-government association of the automotive industry’s first-level manufacturers, Academic and Government institutions.

The Biocluster is an industrial organization focused on developing biotech and related industries in Nuevo León (NL). Thus, using the triple helix model, the industry, academics, and government work together to develop strategic technology for the region.

Home appliances cluster (CLELAC) is formed from the triple helix: companies, academics, and government, together hold bi-monthly sessions to create, approve, review and evaluate development projects for the sector.

Nuevo León Energy cluster is a non-government association in a triple helix model where the energy industry, academics, and Nuevo León’s government work together in developing the energy sector competitiveness.

Toolings cluster is a triple-helix non-lucrative civil association formed by industries, educational institutions, research centers, and government entities related to the Toolings sector. Its purpose is to raise the competitiveness and growth of the NL region’s tooling



industry through collaboration, linkage, and synergy between government, academics, and industry.

MIMEC cluster’s goal is to boost its industries’ competitiveness and ease the development of products and services via the collaboration between industry, academics, and government.

Nanotech cluster. Created in September 2008 under the triple helix model, this cluster’s goal is to add to the sustainable economic development of NL through the strengthening of productive chains linked to materials, the creation and strengthening of new factories, and the training to get to the market nanotechnology-based projects.

The medical services cluster is a triple helix organization joining the government, public and private hospitals, and universities with health careers.

The software cluster, or CSOFTMTY, is NL’s communications and information technology cluster and the first one. It is borne from an alliance between universities, industries, and government seeking economic growth and better life quality in NL via innovation, developing and boosting the market, the human talent, and the IT and communications industry’s infrastructure.

Tourism cluster. Competitiveness boosting platform and collaboration between NL tourism companies, where public and private organizations collide, create and develop joint strategies to address the challenges and find solutions.

Sustainable Housing and Urban Development cluster. The development and consolidation of the housing industry at NL, the value streaming integrated of people and organisms that produce, commercialize building materials, financing to house building industries, and urbanization and house-building specialized engineering (CEMEX, 2020).

2.3 R&D Centers in Nuevo León

These are the most remarkable R&D centers in the area: private, public, university-owned R&D, or higher education institutions (Entrepreneurs Monterrey, 2021).



● DRIVEN-CLAUT, DRIVEN is an innovation center founded by the Automotive Cluster (CLAUT) in 2016 to develop, in a collaborative ecosystem, the next generations of talent, products, and processes necessary to overcome global challenges related to the transport of people and goods.

● Mexican Institute for Innovation and Technology in Plastics and Rubber A. C.

(IMITPH), developing technology for the plastics and rubber industries.

● Monterrey IT Cluster, Research and Technology Innovation Park (PIIT).

● Applied Research Center (CIAP), Generate value through research, innovation, and development within the energy area.

● The Biotechnology and Nanotechnology Research Center (CIBYN) conducts state-of-the-art scientific and technological research to contribute to the solution of technical challenges presented in the public and private sector to improve the quality of life of Mexican and global society.

● Center for Agribusinesses development; they promote a culture of business in agribusiness, stimulate the profitability and productivity of agribusinesses, and solve the problems and areas of opportunity identified in Agro-industrial value chains.

● Center for Design, Innovation and Advanced Research (CEDIIA); they help the industry experiment and generate new products and processes to put them at the service of third parties, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, developers and industrialists.

● Center for research and development of the food industry. New Product Development. Product positioning and comparison with the competition.

● Center for Research, Innovation, and Development in Engineering and Technology (CIIDIT). Support the work of innovation, research, and development in engineering and technology of the FIME-UANL through the concentration of

researchers, students, and equipment, as well as the conjunction with other units of the UANL and national and international institutions and companies.

● Lab Industry 4.0. A platform for the development and certification of talent, technological integration of smart solutions, applied research; as well as start-up promotion based on machine to machine (M2M), internet of things (IoT), big data (BD) and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VAR).



● Research center for information and communication (CINCO). It seeks to generate, apply and transmit basic and applied scientific knowledge for the analysis, evaluation, prevention, and solution of problems in the areas of communication.

● The Innovation and Strategic Product Design Center (CIDEP) focuses on the generation and attraction of high-tech companies, including design, technological development, and research in the areas of microelectronics, ICT, and industrial design;

they position the existing state´s industrial base in international markets, updating its technological platforms.

● Biotechnology Institute, School of Biological Sciences. The Research at the Biotechnology Institute is related to microbial biotechnology; it has focused on eight areas of creation and application of knowledge to generate biotech products, processes development, and services.

● Applied Chemistry Research Center (CIQA). Carry out basic and applied scientific R&D activities, experimental development, technological innovation, and specialized training in chemistry, polymers, advanced materials, biotechnology, the environment, natural resources, and other related disciplines.

● Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV). Generate knowledge through engineering concepts and methods that apply modern technologies to solve living systems and health care problems, design, analyze, and interpret data in biological systems, public health, and medicine.

● Engineering and Industrial Development Center (CIDESI). Linking and creating international scientific networks as consolidated research centers.

● Research Center on Advanced Materials (CIMAV). Contribute to technological advances by discovering new materials and providing services to industries in the country and the world.

2.4 Regional development

Regional development is both an instrumental public policy goal for relevant regional policies or collectives as well as a practice enabled by strategies, including those of private or industry actors engaged in development activities (Jovovic, Draskovic,



Delibasic, & Jovovic, 2017) (Stimson, Stough, & Roberts, 2006) (Fudge, Ogier, &

Alexander, 2020).

Regional identity is a special kind of phenomenon, which forms throughout historical and territorial socialization. We assume that regional identity correlates with people’s volition to achieve common goals, improves their personal activities, and influences regional development and planning. The regional identity is crucial in securing public participation in planning. (Raagmaa, 2002).

The cooperation between development agencies and universities to raise the innovation cases of its regional companies is of great importance. Educational moves resulting in social and cultural development, supporting entrepreneurship, providing cooperation with the schools in the region or the country to pave the way for SMEs, big corporations, and entrepreneurs will enhance regional development in the regions (Eren

& Kosan, 2012).

2.5 The importance of R&D in a Region

Research and development activities are essential in a region because it makes the companies grow, feed the hunger for competition when others reach an achievement of that nature. It also encourages the collaboration between “rival” companies to grow, which makes a region distinguish from others, leading to identifying the region’s strength.

Entrepreneurship has become “a social and knowledge strategy for developing skills that allow the economically active population to carry out business projects for self- employment with a greater degree of certainty and possibilities” to get a better quality of life (Ovalles-Toledo, Moreno Freites, Olivares Urbina, & Guerra Harold, 2018).

2.6 How clusters and companies collaborate

Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in the XXI century face multiple challenges at the global level; among these is to respond to educational and economic development through innovation and the development of Science and Technology (S&T) (Bautista E.



G., 2019). This research analyzed the linking process for innovation between research centers, whether HEI or independent, and the productive sector.

The participation of HEIs in the processes of linking with companies and government bodies is the basis of cooperation and links that will generate innovation;

based on the “Triple Helix” model (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 1995), there is even talk of a

“fourth helix and fifth helix” (Acosta Valdeleón & Carreño Manosalva, 2013), that although it has not developed, but mainly the government is playing a role to encourage innovation, and from there it functions as an articulator (Evelio Gerónimo, 2015).

2.7 Technology Readiness Level

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a measurement system utilized to assess the technology maturity level. The metrics for each technology level are used to evaluate each technology project, and then it is assigned a TRL rating based on the project’s progress. There are nine technology readiness levels and TRL 1 is the lowest, and TRL 9 is the highest (see Figure 3).

When a technology project is at TRL 1, scientific research begins, and those results are translated into future research and development. TRL 2 occurs once the basic principles are studied and practical applications are applied to those initial findings. TRL 2 technology is speculative, as there could be little to no experimental proof of concept for the specific technology.

Now, when active research and design begin, a technology is elevated to TRL 3.

Generally, laboratory and analytical studies are required at TRL 3 to prove if technology is workable and prepared to move further in the development phase; A proof-of-concept model is frequently constructed during TRL 3.

The technology advances to TRL 4 after the proof-of-concept technology is complete. Multiple component elements are evaluated with one another during TRL 4.

TRL 5 is the continuation of TRL 4, although the technology at this level is classified as a breadboard technology and requires more testing than technology at TRL 4. Simulations should be carried out in as realistic an environment as possible. Following the completion



of TRL 5 testing, the technology may be advanced to TRL 6. A fully functional prototype or representational model is part of a TRL 6 technology.

TRL 7 technology necessitates the demonstration of a working model or prototype in a space environment.

TRL 8 technology has been tested and “flight-qualified,” It is ready for implementation into an already existing technology or technology system.

Once a technology has been “flight-proven” during a successful mission, it can be called TRL 9 (Tzinis, 2021).

This scale is adapted to use by R&D centers and applied to other technologies than aerospace as follows.



Figure 3 Technology Readiness Level chart (Andriotti, 2020).

2.8 Vijay Jolly model

Vijay Jolly (1997) developed the following model for describing the technology commercialization process, as indicated by Figure 4 below.



Figure 4 The process of technology commercialization

This model consists of five sub-processes or levels of development; imagining the dual techno-market insight, incubating to define the technology’s commercial potential, demonstrating the technology contextually in products and processes, promoting the chosen adoption for the technology, and sustaining the commercialization. In addition, there are four bridges, which are primarily for mobilizing resources while going from one sub-process to another, they must mobilize the stakeholders to continue having an interest in the technology and prepare for the next step.

Each sub-process has an expected outcome with necessary completion points and a list of the main stakeholders during that part of the process.

Thus, as Jolly (1997) puts it:

“The value of any new technology ultimately lies in the products incorporating it and their success in the marketplace. Yet many technologies are taken to an intermediate stage and either fail there or get inordinately delayed. This is sometimes due to the merits of the technology itself, but it can be due to a failure to bridge the sub-processes effectively.”

At the end of each sub-process, the output must be either tangible or intangible with a commercial value. It is vital to create enough value in each sub-process to



successfully carry it into the next step by motivating or persuading stakeholders to invest, as indicated by the four bridges (Jolly, 1997).



Chapter 3 Methodology

To answer the research questions, it was needed to determine if the industrial corporations in Nuevo León have been collaborating with research centers and how they had advanced in their R&D projects; a questionnaire was designed for this purpose, and it is shown in Appendix 1. The information was not exposed at the company level but in an aggregated way per industrial cluster.

As we could not find precise information in government nor scholarly publications, the regional clusters were contacted since they are well-established and recognized organizations; a contact was established with each of the leaders and subsequently the R&D and communication leaders.

The clusters we ask for collaboration are as follows:

● Automotive

● Aerospace

● Household goods

● Biotech

● Medical services and health

● Nanotech

● Software and IT

● Agrifood

● Urban development

● Media and entertainment

● Tourism

● Energy

● Toolings

We can determine if the industry and research centers are collaborating, but it remains a question: Is this collaboration beneficial to the industry? Are the projects progressing? For this matter, we developed a questionnaire to fill this gap. We asked, for instance, if they had collaborated with a research center and or school to develop a technological issue, meaning product or manufacturing process, how many times they collaborated in the recent years, and if they have progressed during the period of collaboration. The questionnaire can be found in Appendix 1 - Questionnaire.

To realize if the collaboration progressed since they made contact and decided to work together, we took advantage of the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), asking them what level they started and the level at the end of the collaboration.



The developed questionnaire was online and distributed as a survey to the cluster members via their leaders who share them by e-mail. As the survey was being answered, the results were presented in the responses section.

Data were downloaded to excel and analyzed; data were cleaned and checked if the R&D projects were progressing in the collaboration.



Chapter 4 Results

We developed the questionnaire in google forms and distributed it as a survey to the cluster members via their leaders who share them by e-mail. The survey was sent, and after two months of receiving answers and several reminders to respond to it, the results were presented in this section.

After the time defined passed to receive the answers to the questionnaire, we collected all data and processed it to extract the results we are showing below.

Following the methodology, we expected to have numerous results as the contacts demonstrated the total will to help us answer the survey; unfortunately, the number of answers was not as we desired.

Twenty-six companies responded to the survey, the Automotive cluster and the Media & Entertainment cluster with higher participation; companies from six out of thirteen clusters responded to the survey, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5 Percentage of questionnaire respondent companies per cluster.

The total of collaborations between companies and R&D centers as of the survey’s answers were 46. According to the survey, the research centers that collaborate with the companies in Nuevo León were fifteen, and some of them repeated across the surveys.

The UANL (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León), Tecnológico de Monterrey, CIMAV





8% 4%

Respondant companies per clusters

Automotive Media & Entertaiment Software Agrifood Energy Aerospace



(Centro de Investigación en Materiales Avanzados, Advanced Materials Research Center), and Universidad de Monterrey (UdeM) were the most requested R&D Centers, accounting for 65% of the collaborations – see Figure 6.

Figure 6 Percentage of questionnaire respondent research centers.



14% 16%



2% 2% 2% 2% 5% 2%

Research centers from the survey


Tecnológico de Monterrey UdeM

CIDESI Cinvestav

Centro de Desarrollo Schneider Electric CHRISTUS Centro de Excelencia e Innovación Cidesi


Note: 8 respondant didn´t work with any research center



From the survey answers, we found out that most of them (67%) had some progress during the collaborations; we asked how its TRL was at the start of the project and at the end of the collaboration to figure out if the TRL grew or if it stayed the same – see Figure 7.

Figure 7 Percentage of TRL progress from respondents to questionnaire



Technology Readiness Level progress

TRL grew TRL keeps level



How much did the TRL increase?

We determined how the TRL progressed, with most of the collaborations increasing their TRL in 2 levels (34%) and the less increasing four levels (17%) (see Figure 8). Unfortunately, the survey did not include why there is no progress, nor is the progress little or big.

Figure 8 TRL growth level.

The share between institutions to collaborate- whether HEIs or R&D centers is a tie between them in the case of the number of collaborations as shown in the percentage in the following Figure 9.

Figure 9 Collaboration share per institution.





TRL growth level

TRL grew 1 level TRL grew 2 levels TRL grew 3 levels TRL grew 4 levels



Type of collaborative institute %

R&D School



The following Figure 10 and Figure 11 show the distribution, in percentage, per range of TRL rank, from 1~3, 4~6, and 7~9.

Figure 10 TRL initial rank level (%)

Figure 11 TRL final rank level (%)

15% 63%


TRL initial rank level %

1~3 4~6 7~9




TRL final rank level %

1~3 4~6 7~9



Figure 12 Average TRL growth per R&D center.

Figure 12 illustrates, on average, how the collaborations grew per research and development center; from none to three Technology Readiness Level the chart describes what centers are used for early levels like Schneider’s, UNAM, and Cinvestav; what is looked for medium levels like HUB tec-China, Tecnológico de Monterrey, UANL, U-ERRE and UDEM and the ones that are contacted for the higher ranks as CIMAV, Christus and CIDESI.

Cinvestav and CIMAV are distinguished for being the research and development centers with the highest growth average of the survey results.



Chapter 5 Conclusions

● What companies are collaborating with whom for technology development? As the results showed, the automotive industry collaborated the most with R&D centers.

● What is the degree of improvement for such technological projects? Collaboration from three R&D centers showed considerable progress of two TRL grades. A couple of them showed three stages of progress, meaning that if we could infer from the results, around forty percent of the collaborations have good progress.

Despite the small number of answers received, twenty-six, six out of the 13 clusters responded to the survey, almost half; the automotive cluster was the most participative of them. The small sample size did not let us extrapolate and make solid conclusions around them. Notwithstanding the relatively limited sample, this work offers valuable insights into how collaborations are behaving these days.

The twenty-six answers contain a total of forty-six collaborations between clusters’

industries and research & development centers, half of them are concentrated in three research & development centers / Academic institutions: Tecnológico de Monterrey y CIMAV (Advanced Materials Research Center) with the 16% each and the UANL (Nuevo León’s Autonomous University) with 20% of the collaboration projects. The previous analysis tells us that for the automotive and the media & entertainment clusters (the most participative ones in the survey), these three R&D centers are perceived with particular affinity.

As the results showed, there is no clear preference from industry for choosing an R&D center or an academic institution/School (48% to 52%) to collaborate to.

Sixty-seven percent of the collaboration projects had some progress in the TRL concept, at least one level. That shows that the majority of times, once a collaboration project started, both parties were committed to making them work and progress.



As of Vijay Jolly’s models, we can conclude that some Research & Development centers are looking for the first stages in the innovation process imagining and incubation, as in Schneider, UNAM, or CINVESTAV cases. Others worked in the development stages between incubation and demonstration, such as in HUB Tec China, Tecnológico de Monterrey, UANL, U-ERRE, CIMAV, or UDEM. Others were sourced for the demonstration stage, such as Christus or CIDESI.

None of the research and development centers reaching the promote nor sustain stages, but the results are encouraging; the high education schools and research and development centers must promote its work, make it more visible to the industry to turn to them as solutions for its problems or wishes to progress and grow more competitive.

This way, they can turn their eyes to them, attract them, and make them developers rather than just buyers.

According to the Vijay Jolly model and the results, our collaborations in the Monterrey area reached the demonstrating level, the promote and sustain ones as of Vijay’s; it would be a matter of a different study to investigate why. Perhaps Industry must consider involving more than one R&D center to achieve TRL-9 maturity level; it means collaborating with a technological expert R&D to develop until TRL-7 and a marketing and or media one to make it to the commercialization phase.

More information on collaborations in the Monterrey area would help establish greater accuracy on this matter. Further investigations need to be carried out to validate the results of this research and include a different technique to make the industries answer surveys or questionnaires and reach a higher validity. R&D centers should make public their collaborations with the industry and promote this way collaborations, multiply them.




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Appendix 1 - Questionnaire

I am contacting you because we are doing an exercise with I2T2 that maps the region’s entrepreneurial capacities and innovation capacities; part of this exercise will be reported in Everardo Nuncio’s master’s thesis. We want to map the activities carried out by the companies affiliated with your cluster for this exercise. Could we count on your support? Specifically, we want to know who is collaborating with which research center/university to identify those relationships. For this, we are designing a survey; could you send it to your affiliates? Could someone within the cluster support us with this task?

The result that we hope to obtain would be a map of relations with research centers and universities. We are doing this exercise with the rest of the region clusters; We will analyze the information and publish the findings to design strategies to make the Monterrey metropolitan area more competitive and attractive.

We greatly appreciate your support, and we look forward to your thoughtful response.








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