Nextcoa: How and Entrepreneurial University can Transform the Cocoa Industry Towards Circularity


  • Aura Pedraza-Avella Universidad Industrial de Santander
  • Roque Carreno-Ramirez
  • Katherin Acosta-Medina



entrepreneurial university, spin-off, cocoa


As the economy has evolved from being driven by physical capital to knowledge and entrepreneurship, the role of the university has also evolved over time; besides its responsibility to generate technology transfer and knowledge-based startups, universities have broadened to focus on enhancing entrepreneurship capital and facilitating behavior to prosper in an entrepreneurial society (Audretsch, 2014). This article talks about Nextcoa, an academic spin-off initiative which wants to revolutionize the cocoa industry by modernizing the production and transformation of the fruit to obtain the traditional chocolate, but also using the current waste to produce new goods and services. The research question is focus on how challenging is for a Colombian entrepreneurial university to contribute to circularity, trying to produce sweeteners and biopolymers obtained from cocoa mucilage that can be used to produce and package chocolates, replacing sugar cane and plastic bags, while gives use to a residue that is currently wasted. First, it is explained the development process of new products from Nextcoa since its conception. Then, an analysis of external conditions for the cocoa sweetener and biopolymer is done, using the Porter diamond model. In third place, it is presented an internal capabilities profile of Nextcoa. Finally, the challenges for the new products to be successful in the market are synthesized, thus contributing to the circularity of the cocoa industry. As main results, it is obtained that there is an important technological limitation in obtaining the cocoa mucilage to produce the sweetener and biopolymer as well as in the little knowledge and management of biotechnological processes of those involved in the cocoa value chain. On the other hand, there is a significant demand for plastics and sweeteners for chocolate production and packaging, and a prevailing need to reduce related contamination and consumption of sugar cane for health issues. Also, being produced by an academic spin-off gives good-will to Nextcoa products but, given the bureaucracy typical of a public university in Colombia, it can mean complications for doing business. Finally, cocoa biopolymer and sweetener would have an interesting market, especially if they can be produced at a competitive cost.