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Rodrigo Frias

PhD Student

PhD Student in the Business School


Rodrigo has 20 years of professional experience. For the last 10 years, he has been working as a senior policymaker in entrepreneurship and innovation policies to support new firm creation. Before joining Durham University, he was the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Start-Up Chile from the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO). Start-Up Chile is the world's first public business accelerator. It is widely recognized globally for its extensive portfolio of over 5,500 start-ups and an annual public spending of £7,000,000.

Rodrigo previously led the Early Investment Unit and served as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Entrepreneurship Division at CORFO. During his tenure, he effectively managed a yearly public budget of £10,000,000 to support 600 early-stage ventures annually.

Before joining CORFO, Rodrigo co-founded the Evidence-based Policy and Innovation Research Lab (EPIC Lab) at the Engineering School of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The lab focused on measuring the impact of entrepreneurship and innovation policies through experimental and quasi-experimental methods such as Randomised Control Trials (RCTs). EPIC Lab received grants from the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) by NESTA UK, Kauffman Foundation in the USA, and the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FONDECYT), Chile.

Rodrigo's involvement in the digital marketing sector began in 2008 when he led the development of several digital projects for established companies. In 2011, he obtained public funding from the Ministry of Education to establish Smart Lab at Universidad del Desarrollo, one of the first digital transformation labs in Chile.

In terms of qualifications, Rodrigo holds a Master of Science degree in Technology and Innovation Management from the recognised Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex (UK), a Master of Arts in Applied Communications from Universidad del Desarrollo (Chile), and a BA in Communications with a major in Advertising. Additionally, he has a certificate in Entrepreneurship from Babson College.

In 2020, Rodrigo was nominated as a global finalist by the British Council for his significant impact in his field. During the same year, his team at CORFO became a global finalist in the Public Service Team of the Year Awards by the digital think tank Apolitical UK. They were recognised for their rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic by creating a public programme to subsidise the production of mechanical ventilators in Chile within a remarkable timeframe of 48 hours. Rodrigo has also received scholarships for his PhD studies, including the Centre of Innovation and Technology Management at Durham University Business School and Becas Chile Scholarship; and he was awarded a Master Scholarship at the University of Sussex.

Rodrigo has published in the Journal of Business Venturing Insights (JBVI) and co-authored a book on Productivity in Chile. Apart from his professional pursuits, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing blues guitar.

Mini biography

Rodrigo is a PhD student at Durham University Business School. He has substantial experience as a senior policymaker in entrepreneurship and innovation in Latin America. He served as Deputy CEO of Start-Up Chile and led the Early Investment Division at the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO). He holds a master's degree in Technology and Innovation Management from the University of Sussex. Also, he has received global recognition for his contributions, including rapid response initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research Area

Entrepreneurship policy aims to foster new business development for job creation, economic growth, and innovation. However, the current approach is limited and excludes certain perspectives, relying mainly on past practices to shape alternative futures. To address this, it is crucial to shift focus towards the process of policy framing and design rather than the specific policy content. This research aims to rectify this issue by exploring how policies can be formulated to promote a change in perspective. By utilizing solution-oriented social science and design science approach, this study seeks to identify challenges in policy formulation and establish actionable principles for designing effective entrepreneurship policies. Design Science enables researchers to translate theoretical knowledge into practical policy principles and tools, facilitating the implementation of innovative solutions.

Research interests

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship Policies
  • Innovation Management
  • New Ventures Creation
  • Participatory Research
  • Public Policy
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