HolaScience – Connecting to the World

Ana Soriano Albert
Director Nordic Region Delegation
Vice Rectory for International Affairs
Tecnológico de Monterrey University, Mexico

Ana first visited HelloScience at Novozymes, coming across the road from the Danish Technical University (DTU), from where she runs a satellite office supporting the International Affairs activities of the Mexican University Tecnológico de Monterrey.

Since then HelloScience has had the pleasure to meet with Ana again several times, and to learn more about TEC de Monterrey, and discuss potential opportunities to work together. What follows is a Q&A with Ana, introducing TEC de Monterrey and her reflections on sharing diverse knowledge and collaborations around the HelloScience platform.

May 28, 2020

Q. The HelloScience team is really excited about connecting to a university in Mexico and expanding our international cooperation. Ana, can you tell us what TEC de Monterrey is and why you have satellite office at the Technical University of Denmark?

A. It is a comprehensive University, the core of which is made up of students from the Schools of Engineering and Science together with the School of Business. We have in total 6 schools, including Medicine and Health Science, Humanities and Education, Social Governmental Studies, and Architecture, Art and Design. TEC’s visions embraces “Leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship for human flourishing” continuing with a strong commitment for human sensibilities and social responsibility.

Why Denmark? Why the Nordic Countries? from companies, to universities, governments, are all recognized as leaders in topics such as sustainability and innovation. DTU is one of the top-elite universities in Europe in Engineering and a key actor in the Region. TEC and DTU have more than 10 years of joint relations, and it was a perfect time to take this to a next level establishing an international liaison office to strengthen our cooperation.

Building bridges with our partners, as sharing ideas and experiences, will bring everyone a better future. Our Next Generation of decision makers in Mexico are now able to have real life experience of this Nordic wave, with their time hopefully filled with learning across innovation, equality and sustainability to name some areas. Experiencing 5 to 10 months of a Nordic Life and mindset can make a big impact for our student’s future.

The Femsa Biotechnology Center, TEC de Monterrey, Mexico

About: Tecnológico de Monterrey is a private university in Mexico founded in 1943 by a visionary business, humanist and philanthropist man, Mr. Eugenio Garza Sada who graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Today, after 77 years, the dream of don Eugenio has become true: Tec is one the best and most prestigious universities in Latin America, and the only one with a research cooperation with MIT, in nanotechnology.

Tec has more than 90,000 students, from high school to Ph.D. level, with 26 campuses in 25 cities, and more than 9,000 Faculty members.

Visit TEC de Monterrey’s website

Digital platforms have not only become a necessity but have enabled people and knowledge to connect during COVID-19. The virtual realm has entered a new era where knowledge and solutions can be communicated across borders and between cultures.

Why is HelloScience interesting for you? and how do you think a digital platform can help connect university students/researchers to companies and vice versa?

HelloScience is a community of diverse people from different areas that work together, so people, companies and organisations can share their knowledge. As I mentioned, my job is to link people and HelloScience is a perfect community to expand and find new partners and also get inspired. And HelloScience is also a digital platform where people can match, share, discuss, collaborate, learn, dream together and make it real. The platform is designed in an organic way, very friendly, and makes you feel close and part of this community, even over long distance, and this what our students want and need.

I can see the type of actions HelloSciene has already done fit perfectly into our learning environment and our model of education. I believe the platform and its stakeholders has a potential to impact SDG 6 and many other areas of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Mexico. Since Mexico is a huge country and we need to save scarce resources, the way we use our time and exchange knowledge efficiently over large distances is a must

Take a virtual walk at TEC de Monterrey Campus

Global challenges increase in complexity and the need for solutions to them is urgent – but they need to be sustainable. Radical ideas, collaboration and sustainable innovation has become the task for the 21st century.

What work and methods do you think are most important in these times to bring sustainable solutions to real world challenges? And how do you see HelloScience can be part of that?

In my opinion, first we need to understand that education has changed dramatically, and students are not learning in the same way as they did 20 or even 10 years ago: And from an environmental perspective, you could almost say we are not living on the same planet.

Teachers have to reconsider the use of technology and at the same time, keep the basics of one to one learning, and engage emotionally to nurture university virtues and human values among the students to secure a deep understanding of, and relation to, real world challenges.

We expect our students to be highly motivated, working in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams, considering how to best use technology or innovation. However, at the same time, we need to come back to the roots of humanity: simplicity, feelings and emotions, gender, art, inclusion, sustainability. By innovating how teaching and learning is done and adding these elements into studies, results showed better performance and achievements, and that is why exchange between cultures is so important.

HelloScience shows us successful examples of public-private collaboration, the key to bring sustainable solutions in the long run to the market as well as integrating entrepreneurs both inside or outside universities. In this way, HelloScience can be an amazing way to connect diverse people, from different continents, together and share solution with a focus on the SDGs, in Mexico or worldwide.

“Disruptive” Universities that challenge the status quo by combining academic and social elements with technology, innovation and business thinking have a role to play – and have never been more important when achieving the SDGs is essential. For that goal, entrepreneurship plays a key factor and this another area where HelloScience can help.

It’s inspiring to see how you have engaged your community already with HelloScience, by organizing a focus group of highly skilled university students to give initial feedback on how we could improve the HelloScience website.

What benefits do you see when diverse people with different professional backgrounds and resources get together to collaborate on a common project?

I found it very important to give students a central role in this focus group. They have a lot to say and they are highly motivated. I worked together with Adriana Carranza (leader of Career and Life Center at campus Monterrey) and with Laura Romero (director of Nanotechnology Bachelor) both at campus Monterrey, as well as the students who are currently on exchange at DTU. I knew Adriana and Laura would help me to find brilliant students for the focus group, some of them already with their own startups.

I have this feeling of giving before asking or getting something, so to me, it was really important to make a special contribution to HelloScience as I know that you are trying to improve the platform user experience. This also give you a taste of just how talented our students are! At the end of the day, both HelloScience and TEC de Monterrey share the same mission and if we want to construct and develop a relationship, we need to start with small but strong actions such as this one.

View focus group timeline and give feedback here

Having feedback from Mexican users (students, professors, staff) is very different from European or Asian partners, so contributing with the focus group has a unique value.

II invited my colleague Lumi Velázquez, from the School of Humanities and Education, who is a professor and the leader of the Plan for Gender Equality but also running a very solid initiatives as Womentoring Equality and Zona Shero attached to the Institute of Entrepreneurship Eugenio Garza Lagüera. She could add the gender aspect as an expert in the focus group. Mónica Caballero who is the national coordinator of the Institute of Entrepreneurship is one of the key person when it comes to connect and link people within the entrepreneurial ecosystem at TEC and Mexico. I was completely sure I could contribute by finding engaged people to join this focus group from different backgrounds, disciplines and at the same time with common goals and interest in technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, social impact.

Again, this is a way to get to know each other and a process of building bridges in a different way. I also learnt a lot from Adriana and Jeppe Nielsen, HelloScience’s Platform Manager and I enjoyed the focus group a lot so I must thank you.