Porto Alegre, a complex of innovation
To develop a strategic agenda for Porto Alegre to become a complex of technological businesses and startups to attract investments and innovative companies and retain talents. This is the mission of the partnership between PUCRS, UFRGS and Unisinos, signed by their presidents in April, and which gave birth to the Alliance for Innovation of Porto Alegre. Under this agreement, local governments, businesses, corporate entities and other educational institutions are expected to share resources and work together.
“Three institutions that embrace knowledge, research, culture, development and social responsibility are joining forces in a project that seeks to change the city”, said the President of PUCRS, Br. Evilázio Teixeira. Rui Oppermann, President of UFRGS, claims that the institutions have been working on individual initiatives of innovation but are now going to bring their initiatives to a higher level and create new opportunities. The way Marcelo de Aquino, from Unisinos, sees it, one of the goals of the Alliance is to “retain the talents” here due to the shortage of challenges.
VISION OF FUTURE
Jorge Audy, Superintendent of Innovation and Development of PUCRS, views this project as an idea to put in practice a number of actions intended for the development of the city. “We need laws to expedite the generation of new technological businesses. We also need to create a positive atmosphere to attract investments from abroad”, said he.
The President of the International Association of Science and Technology Parks (Iasp), Josep Piqué has been hired to assist the Alliance in the implementation of the project. The native of Spain is one of the founders of 22@Barcelona, a project that revitalized the industrial area of that city and made it a reference in smart cities. He will map out the strengths of Porto Alegre, as well as the main challenges and actions to be taken. “My mission is to be as transparent as I can in saying what needs to be done to build the city’s vision of future”, said he.
The way Br. Evilázio Teixeira sees it, the Alliance will make Porto Alegre a national reference in innovation and entrepreneurship and the national and international connections will lead to social and economic development. “PUCRS is certain of its role as a facilitator of the progress of the city, state and country”, added he. Piqué, who relies on a solid experience as a consultant for similar projects in Medellín (Colombia) and Florianópolis, claims that initiatives like this must evolve from a common mission, designed and shared by all interested parties. To his mind, the parties need to think about what they expect of Porto Alegre and then, put together an agenda for what needs to be done.
As far as he is concerned, science and technology parks at universities would be restricted to academic settings and would respond to the challenges of companies and of the university community. From now on, they will have the power to transform the economy and society. “Cities relying on parks will be able to address these issues and connect to other parks from all over the world. Parks serve both as the coordinators of the local ecosystem of innovation and as agents to bring the global ecosystem together”, adds he.
“Universities have been working on their technology parks since the early 2000s. Now we have another challenge. We’ll help change the city”, concludes Audy.
The Alliance for Innovation of Porto Alegre will be run by members of the three institutions: one from PUCRS, two from UFRGS and another from Unisinos. PUCRS will be represented by Jorge Audy, Superintendent of Innovation and Development. The executive group will make the everyday decisions but distinct teams to address specific issues are expected to be formed. These might include other educational institutions, entities and companies.
The three universities rely on high-level innovation environments and Porto Alegre has a number of interesting actions in the area. In Audy’s view, we need to revisit cities and look at them as spaces for experimentation, prototyping and new products and services. “We need spaces for the youth to develop new ideas. We’ll create the conditions for people to make their dreams come true and build a better future”, concludes he.