New agreement strengthens international research and collaboration

A newly signed international agreement aims to expand academic co-operation and collaboration and promote sustainability, enterprise and local development.

An agreement between the University of Leeds through the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) at the School of Earth and Environment and Balloon Latam will give staff from both organisations the opportunity to carry out long term collaborative projects, including exchange visits to each other’s countries. 

Students from both organisations will also benefit from the commitment to organising joint academic activities. 

The signing of the agreement was part of the official launch of Balloon Research Latam and the opening of three research hubs in the Chilean Patagonia. The hubs will offer researchers from all over the world and from SRI in particular, dedicated office space, research support and access to more than 600 entrepreneurs in rural areas as case studies and unique research sources. 

The agreement was signed by University of Leeds Secretary Roger Gair and Sebastian Salinas Claro, Founder and CEO of Balloon Latam. 

SRI has already been involved in collaborative research with Balloon Latam. Dr Pablo Munoz, a lecturer in business and sustainable change at Leeds, was present at the signing and serves as a non-executive director. He has helped develop the organisation’s entrepreneurial programme. 

We hope to bring the academic and investigative worlds closer to Latin America’s communities. This will allow us to have better and deeper knowledge of the region’s local economies and in the construction of beneficial public policies

Dr Munoz said: “Access to facilities and local contacts in South America will allow researchers and students to contribute to local development and help create innovative solutions. 

“University of Leeds staff will provide guidance and mentoring to Balloon Latam on issues related to enterprise, local development and sustainability, while researchers and students will benefit from a unique hands-on look at development work taking place in South America.”   

University of Leeds MSc student Amanda Soler Guzman, whose dissertation research is being funded by Balloon Latam said: “Collaborative research will help academics and students to better understand rural entrepreneurial ecosystems. Our research can lead to guidelines for the implementation of effective solutions to combat poverty through enterprise.”  

Sebastian Salinas Claro, Founder and CEO Balloon Latam, said: “We hope to bring the academic and investigative worlds closer to Latin America’s communities. This will allow us to have better and deeper knowledge of the region’s local economies and in the construction of beneficial public policies.” 

Dr Munoz is also the supervisor for a new PhD research project which is aimed at exploring processes and outcomes of entrepreneurial communities in rural contexts. It is due to run alongside Balloon Latam's entrepreneurship programme. 

In addition to building relations in South America, the University of Leeds has committed to increasing its international reach and opportunities for students from around the world. 

Partnerships have already been developed with leading universities in China, such as Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Southwest Jaiotong University, which has recently launched a joint school with Leeds. 

Further information 

For interviews, please contact Anna Martinez, University of Leeds Media Relations Officer, on +44 (0)113 343 4196 or email a.martinez(at) 

University of Leeds 

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 31,000 students from 147 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group research-intensive universities. 

We are a top 10 university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and positioned as one of the top 100 best universities in the world in the 2015 QS World University Rankings. We are The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2017. 

Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) research is based largely on the environmental social sciences and with a focus on the cross cutting themes of adapting to environmental change, governance and sustainability. 

Balloon Latam

Balloon Latam is a social enterprise that works with local entrepreneurs across Latin America to improve their businesses and quality of life. It offers young leaders the opportunity to pay to work with communities in Latin America encouraging interaction with local entrepreneurs and communities. Ballon Latam’s programme has been implemented in communities across Chile, Argentina, and Mexico, with Venezuela and Guatemala soon to follow.