Support Partner’s Strategies to Establish Technology-based Startup


Open to all RPCVs

Activity/project background

One of Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán’s (CICY) strategic objectives is to consolidate the transfer of technological developments created by its researchers. CICY has a Technology Transfer Office (OTT) which, through its Project Administration Office (OPA), provides support to researchers through processes that allow them to take their inventions and innovations from the laboratory to the productive sector. An area of opportunity and growth identified by the OTT and the OAP is the strengthening of knowledge and the implementation of best practices related to the creation and development of Technology Based Companies (TBC) or startups.

The collaboration and exchange of knowledge and expertise with a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) with experience in startup development and management will help the OTT and OPA in the creation of a manual containing strategies and tools that will enable the creation of TBCs aligned with CICY’s context and priorities. The project will be under the supervision and leadership of the OTT. The OAP will be responsible for project coordination and execution. The VSPP will collaborate directly with the OAP manager and will have interaction with personnel from other departments.

Peace Corps Mexico (PCM) and CICY’s partnership began in 2017 through the Peace Corps Response Program. CICY has worked with a VSPP before. However, the OTT has no prior experience collaborating with PCVs nor VSPP. Counterparts understand the nature and conditions of virtual service.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Conduct an institutional assessment focused on processes and opportunities for the creation of New Technology Based Firms (NTBF)
• Based on the assessment, co-develop a manual for NTBF/Startup creation that includes: strategies for NTBF/Startup creation, potential business models in alignment to CICY's context and priorities, steps to prioritize CICY’s technologies with transfer potential to the private or public sector, a monitoring and evaluation plan to assess NTBF/Startup key performance indicators (KPIs)
• Outline an implementation/action plan for the creation of a CICY NTBF/Startup following the guidelines set out in the manual
• If time and responsibilities allow it, design and facilitate two to three workshops on topics identified as needing to be reinforced or strengthen in the initial assessment to members determined by the OTT

This engagement is expected to be approximately 22 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, Mexico time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Email, WhatsApp and video conferencing platforms such as BlueJeans for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business, entrepreneurship, engineering, economics, or a related field

Language: Intermediate Spanish

• 5 years of work experience in technology-based business development and management
• 5 years of market analysis (market value potential) and business plan development
• 5 years of experience with the technology transfer process

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

• Master’s degree in business administration, innovation and technology management, technology transfer or related field
• International certifications on business management, business development, entrepreneurship or related field

Technical Skills:
• Financial and marketing knowledge
• Knowledge of the technology transfer process
• Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication
• Knowledge about Latin American markets
• Up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in innovative business models

Language: Advanced Spanish

• Experience in administration and strategy management for New Technology Based Firms (NTBF) or Start-Ups
• Experience transferring technology, (from lab to market or third party)
• Research and development experience
• At least one startup created
• Communications or marketing experience
• Professional or academic experience in Latin America

Partner background

Name: Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, A.C. (CICY)

Type of entity: Government

Mission and goals:

Mission: Carry out scientific research, train human resources, disseminate knowledge, develop and transfer technology and promote the development of society in harmony with the environment.

To be an institution that provides solutions to regional and national problems, contributing to the sustainable development of the country, with international recognition for its scientific and technological contributions in its areas of competence.
To achieve international recognition for its academic programs and that its graduates are recognized for their professionalism and spirit of service to the social, productive, business, scientific and technological sectors.
To be an institution that participates in the decision-making process of scientific and technological policy at regional, national and international levels and actively participates in the development of the country.

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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