0.IMG_5151 920×605

ASPIRE Project shows the importance of collaborative research between the business and academic sectors in Guatemala


By: Janine Sazinsky

The original article, published on “AGEXPORT Hoy” can be accessed here.

In an outstanding initiative to promote innovation, research and entrepreneurship, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG), representatives of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and The Guatemalan Association of Exporters (AGEXPORT) participated in a panel titled “Experiences in Co-Creation” made up of allies of the Sustainable Alliances for Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE) project, and highlighted the importance of strengthening ties between the business, academic, and public sectors.

The panel served as a platform to present the achievements in research projects related to various value chains, including cardamom, avocado, sustainable tourism, essential oils, cocoa, peas and vegetables, foods, and drinks, among others. These projects have been the result of collaboration between the business sector, represented by AGEXPORT, and the academic sector, led by MIT and UVG. The synergy between these entities has proven to be an effective catalyst for the development and practical application of research.

Gabriel Biguria

Gabriel Biguria, President of the Board of Directors of AGEXPORT, speaking at the panel.

During the panel, the important projects that have emerged from this alliance were highlighted, for example, the development of training tools for the post-harvest of “Hass” avocados, prevention and treatment of post-harvest losses for snow and sweet peas, and the mobile laboratory project in the essential oils sector, which will be implemented in Chaquiya, Sololá.

Representatives from the participating group sector of essential oils, Elizabeth Saloj, of theIJA´TZ group, provided valuable insight and explained the importance of the ASPIRE project within the value chain and the benefits it generates. “ This project brings us closer to science, technology and entrepreneurship, which provides us with tools for innovation and motivates us as producers, since we hope to be able to generate jobs in the near future.”

Elizabeth Saloj, representative of Grupo IJA´TZ, speaking.

Elizabeth Saloj, representative of Grupo IJA´TZ and essential oils sector.

Among the topics discussed in the panel, the importance of strengthening ties between the different sectors involved was addressed. The participants agreed that this multi-sector collaboration not only drives research and innovation but also contributes significantly to improving value chains in the country. The integration of academic knowledge and business experience has resulted in a more holistic approach to addressing challenges and seizing opportunities in various sectors. “What this project seeks is to be sustainable over time, it is expected that the model that is currently being implemented can be replicable and today we are seeing to a large extent that the results are positive,” said Amador Carballido, General Director of AGEXPORT.

The panel’s consensus was that strengthening the connection between the academic, business, and government worlds is essential to enhance sustainable development. Furthermore, the importance of creating an ecosystem that promotes the effective transfer of knowledge and technologies was emphasized, thus paving the way for more equitable and sustainable economic growth.

Successful collaboration in the ASPIRE Project

The panel proved to be a significant milestone in the implementation of the  ASPIRE Project. The successful collaboration between these key actors has demonstrated that joining forces between academia, the business sector, and development institutions can generate positive and sustainable impacts on innovation and entrepreneurship in Guatemala.

Author: Enrique Padilla is the Communication and Visibility Specialist of the Directorate of Partnerships for Development of AGEXPORT.


The ASPIRE Project is a five-year, $15 million project funded by USAID and implemented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG), and the Guatemalan Exporters Association (AGEXPORT), with the goal of creating a world-class, replicable model for how Latin American universities, in collaboration with the private sector, government, and local communities, can respond to local and regional development needs. The project implements a collaborative approach to research, teaching, innovation, entrepreneurship, and tech transfer, based on the combination of local assets and knowledge with MIT’s experience in the innovation ecosystem.


Subscribe to our newsletter