a successful adventure
Over 120 companies and 6,300 professionals are building the future at Tecnopuc – the Science and Technology Park of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul. Based on the triad of people, creativity and innovation, the initiative has become a National and Latin-American benchmark. It is a symbol of successful interaction between Academia, public and private organizations, and society.
The results of everything that is thought and created everyday within this ecosystem surpasses all borders. Physically, though, the construction is divided in two sites. It all started in Porto Alegre, between Avenues Ipiranga and Bento Gonçalves, in Partenon neighborhood. There, since 2003, something new is always being created in one of the on-site operations or laboratories, as a result of state-of-the-art interaction among professors, students and enterprises.
It is comprised of an area of 11.5 hectares, with a constructed area fully occupied of approximately 50,000 m². In 2015, Global Tecnopuc rises to celebrate a cycle of great construction works in this area. It is a construction of 4,000 m² in an environment created to encourage networking and the execution of open innovation projects, stimulating interdisciplinarity and entrepreneurship. The building provides spaces for group projects, supported by virtual collaborative platforms oriented toward new organizational working relationships.
Since PUCRS strives to maintain the current density of students and preserve the quality of life in the Park, investments in the expansion of Tecnopuc now turn primarily toward Viamão, in an area of 15 hectares owned by União Brasileira de Educação e Assistência (UBEA), the supporter of the University.
Renowned in Brazil for qualified research, the Science and Technology Park is the living proof of PUCRS' ability to evolve and be reinvented, preparing the University to rise to the challenge of turning knowledge into wealth for society. This moves the University, and is part of an undertaking indispensable to PUCRS' strategy.
At no other time period in the history of nations were education and innovation so important. They act as determining factors in economic and social development. In this context, a series of projects in the fields of research and innovation are being developed, as is the case of Tecnopuc.
Grounded on knowledge, contemporary society has demanded new concepts relating to the role of public and private organizations, teaching institutions and governments. And all these agents must be prepared to rise to these challenges.
Alvaro Toubes Prata, Executive Secretary for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), says that PUCRS and Tecnopuc have advanced in a singular and bold fashion. When the Park began to be conceived, in a pioneering way in the country, these initiatives partnering universities and companies were still very incipient.
In the 2000s, a new model for research and technology was beginning to evolve. Approximately one decade later, in 2014, Brazil had more than 400 incubators and 94 technology parks – 28 of which already in operation, according to Anprotec (Brazilian National Association of Entities Promoting Innovative Enterprises).
Another distinguishing feature is the special attention dedicated to choosing the companies that will be established in the premises. When faced with this challenge, companies with initiatives converging with the four strategic areas set by the University are at an advantage. These are Creative Industry, Information and Communication Technology, Energy and Environment, and Life Sciences.
Attracting companies of various sectors and with different profiles also helps to create a unique synergy and dynamism.
“We will never house a company here simply because we have available space. We want to know the values it will bring to the table, and, especially, if the company is aligned with the skills we intend to develop”,
says Rafael Prikladnicki, Director of Tecnopuc.
Interaction with the research ecosystem of the teaching institution is a basic premise of the partnerships established, as well as one of the reasons for Tecnopuc's success. In addition to keeping their operations independent, with a natural search for profit and positive results, corporations are established in the park with the intention of performing research, developing training programs, innovating, promoting exchange with talented students, and generating transfer of knowledge.
PUCRS is a benchmark university because it carries out cutting-edge research, keeps up with technology and is not afraid of transferring it to companies. It is a culture that has been transformed throughout the years by their unique managers”,
says Lúcia Radler dos Guaranys, Project Analyst at Finep (Financing Agency for Studies and Projects).
integration with the University
A Science and Technology Park maintained by a university loses its significance if not meant to create a synergy of innovative environment with researchers, whether they are students or professors, thus qualifying the training of Academics. This goal is pursued on a daily basis.
Prikladnicki says that even he (who has worked in Academia since 1997), as a Professor at the School of Computer Science, has taught several classes in the Park.
“Companies are usually receptive, and often, their own managers teach classes alongside professors”, he adds.
The environment also generates several scholarships, both in undergraduate and graduate programs, offered by the enterprises established there. These are actions that, in 2014, involved over 70 senior researchers and approximately 500 students – with numbers expected to rise in the coming years.
This relationship also depends on the initiative of professors of undergraduate and graduate programs. They are encouraged to open their minds and envision new possibilities within a rich environment in terms of entrepreneurial, creative and innovative projects.
The goal goes beyond simply leading students to be hired as interns by one of the companies at Tecnopuc. It involves, for instance, the creation of a supplementary training project. Prikladnicki himself is an example, since he was involved in the first project between the Institution (as a Master's student in the Computer Science field) and Dell, at the beginning of the Park's operations, in 2003.
Young people are expected to become much more qualified than they were when they arrived, due to a training project established in partnership between companies and the University. They receive the regular mandatory training from their School, but in the Park's environment, they have a chance to improve their qualifications by taking part in several projects focusing on research and innovation. This is the key purpose for establishing partnerships.