dimensions that support growth
Connection between Academia and the Productive Sector
The connection between the effervescence of Academia (teaching and research) and the opportunities for business is one of the key points in the success of Tecnopuc. From the moment talks are initiated to the moment an enterprise opens, there is a type of courtship, a moment to seek how compatible the interests of all parties are. This is a step toward synchronizing future synergy.
The range of possibilities is huge. There are projects created by people who come to us and say: I want to start a business that has not been thought of before”, Prikladnicki says.
The success of Tecnopuc and of the companies hosted there and the competitiveness of Brazil itself depend on the quality of the connection created between research carried out in universities and practical results, according to Alvaro Toubes Prata, Executive Secretary for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI).
“Technology parks work as bridges capable of bringing these two realities together. Our industry cannot compete at an international level because there is not enough innovation. Creating these environments is a priority, especially when we realize that we are among the countries with the highest production of science in the world, but we still have a hard time making this work in favor of our industry”, he says.
Luis Fernando Cassinelli, Corporative Technology and Innovation Director at Braskem, one of the key players in the petrochemical industry, agrees. “Initiatives such as Tecnopuc and other technology parks are crucial to Brazil, because we have a great need to develop research that leads to innovation and practical use” , he notes. “Besides, when you bring the results from research into the market, several agents are involved in generating technology and products, and this adds value to the teaching institution”, he adds.
For the director, the challenge includes securing greater funds to support research (which still depend on public grants and incentive funds, due to the high risk), training of highly skilled manpower, and intellectual property.
Cassinelli visited Tecnopuc in 2014. “I was here, and did not recognize it”, he says, comparing the premises to the first time he had been there, in 2004, when the building was beginning to be occupied. At that time, the environment was still taking shape, but already prioritized the connection between Academia and the private sector. He recalls that park structures adjoining teaching institutions aiming at this interaction were booming at the time, but few were able to achieve success. “PUCRS was one of the leading institutions, and here, it worked,”, he says.
PUCRS is a very interesting institution. It has become a benchmark university. It is highly reputable, and the Technology Park is an extension of the institution,”, he says.
According to Cassinelli, this can be explained by the fact that Tecnopuc was able to make the best of what the University could offer at the time of the park's opening, expanding only in the following years. Among PUCRS' best qualities, Cassinelli mentions the quality of professional training, as well as the excellence in teaching and research on subjects usually dominated by public teaching institutions.
Until 2008, when the materials engineer was transferred to the Braskem headquarters in São Paulo, he interacted with the Park. Cassinelli says that Braskem evaluated the possibility of assembling a research unit, but limitations regarding the project licensing demands for chemical enterprises to be established in locations such as Tecnopuc have postponed the exchange for the time being.
In 2014, there were talks between representatives of the company and of the laboratories at the teaching institution, aiming at assessing projects in energy (natural gas and solar power) and use of coal (including alternative uses). This could lead to a concrete path for collaboration in research and innovation in the future.
Examples such as Tecnopuc increasingly show that the university system can and should contribute in a more meaningful way by being open to interaction with the private sector, the third sector, and public institutions. This is the opinion of Silvio Meira, founder and President of the Administrative Council of Porto Digital, from Recife (PE).
However, he admits that this model of success coming from PUCRS and some other Brazilian and international teaching institutions is not easily replicated. This happens because there is a structural obstacle in the process, starting with the fact that the incentive system for university professors encourages them to remain behind closed doors, writing articles for scientific journals.
There is hope that, in the long run, this obstacle is overcome, even because universities will only be able to improve their performance if they become more open and interact with the real world. Meira, who has known Tecnopuc since its construction, highlights the evolution of this approach.
It has been a successful and innovative adventure, even when you look at how PUCRS has managed to create an extremely sophisticated, productive and effective interaction among students, faculty, researchers and the real economy. It is a model that should definitely be followed by other institutions”, he suggests.
Francilene Garcia, President of Anprotec, thinks Tecnopuc is an essential beacon to support the construction of a stronger and more competitive industry, both in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and in the whole country.
“The successful history of Tecnopuc is a result, in particular, of the investments carried out by PUCRS in its teaching and research programs and in the improvement of its physical structure and mechanisms for promoting innovation.”, she says.
Furthermore, she mentions the establishment of partnerships with public and private institutions and the Park's international projection.
“These are paramount factors to support an environment favorable to adding technology to industry and enable the creation of innovative projects”, she adds.
HP:e-Print enters global market
Among the companies established at Tecnopuc, there are many successful cases of on-site research that have resulted in distinctive products and services that have reached the global market.
The only research and development center for HP (Hewlett-Packard) in Latin America is established at Tecnopuc Porto Alegre, and accounts for more than half of the research produced by the multinational in Brazil. With four buildings spreading over 6,000 m² in the Park, among laboratories and work stations, HP is a cradle of innovation with global reach.
Approximately 500 employees, immersed in an environment of integration among companies, research centers, universities, students and researchers, work oriented toward HP's two priority areas of research. The first one is evolutionary innovation, which seeks to develop products such as servers, storage and tablet and commercial computer softwares in markets where the company operates, within a three-year time frame. The other is revolutionary innovation, and it aims at predicting and developing trends for the next 20 years.
Among the results in these areas is ePrint, a resource idealized years ago by HP global that has now become a reality in Brazil. The program, known as Public Print Location (PPL) and oriented toward mobile printing services, allows users to access the nearest public printer straight from their smartphone or tablet and print.
It is possible to print in devices at your workplace, at any building, or at public printing locations, like grocery stores”,
says Cirano Silveira, R&D Senior Manager of HP Brazil.
Although the idea had been conceived jointly with the HP Labs spread out throughout the world, developing it into a tool working with the cloud, with smartphone access and safe operation was carried out from Tecnopuc. Offered all over the world, this solution is part of an array of ePrint tools created by HP, which still includes remote access by e-mail to registered printers, among other functions.
Recently launched by HP global, StoreAll, a solution devised for file-based data storage, has also had support from the Brazilian office, which contributed with proofs of concept until it became a product. The tool allows the creation of a hierarchy system in data storage, compartmentalizing files in a more inexpensive, quicker and lasting way. DreamWorks Studios is one of its users.
One of the initiatives that better demonstrates the global range of HP laboratories at Tecnopuc is The Machine, launched in 2014 by the company. The megaproject aims at introducing a new concept of computers, able to address issues relating to energy consumption, physical space, speed and access to large volumes of data, ranging from smartphones to data centers. In Brazil, the research team is working in the memory-related area of this new technology.
These products and solutions developed at Tecnopuc are aligned with the evolution of HP Brazil operations established in Porto Alegre for 15 years, mostly in the Science and Technology Park.
“Brazil is known for the creativity and flexibility of its people, as well as their ability to discover new technology”, says Silveira.
The HP center in Brazil has become a reference in mobile solutions, cloud computing and software-defined networking (SDN).
The research projects of HP laboratories allow PUCRS students to get in touch with cutting-edge technology.
“When we first started working with SDN, for example, almost nobody else in the world studied it, and here, they soon had the opportunity to learn”, he says.
Additionally, young people also have access to specific projects developed by HP engineers with the University's School of Computer Science, besides being able to interact with researchers and engineers from abroad who come to Porto Alegre.
“The line of research on software testing of the School of Computer Science emerged a few years ago, encouraged by the fact that HP had a research center on this software with PUCRS. This generated knowledge, lead to the creation of companies, and led students into becoming scholarship holders in this project.”
Additionally, when there are internships or hiring opportunities, students at the institution end up being considered, often becoming employees at the company.
“Such training and talent identification emerged from the beginning of the partnership with Tecnopuc, and is still strong today.”
For Silveira, the Park offers the infrastructure and the people needed for projects carried out by the company. It is a place where you can breathe innovation, exactly because it unites Academia, the productive sector, the incubator, start-up enterprises, and creativity laboratories.
“There is always great deal of new things happening, and this creates a very good synergy for organizations. I could not imagine being somewhere else in Porto Alegre other than at Tecnopuc”, says the HP manager.
in the pharmaceutical industry
Radiopharmacy, the market niche of the pharmaceutical worker Rafael Ribeiro Madke, has always been challenging. Essential in the undertaking of diagnostic imaging tests, radiopharmaceuticals are extremely specific drugs that depend on a conducting substance to take radioactive elements to the investigated areas in the organism.
Until 2002, the only national manufacturer was the Nuclear and Energy Research Institute (IPEN), that, due to more competitive prices, took over the internal market, while multinational corporations were going through a reverse phase.
In this context, Radiopharmacus (currently RPH Group) was founded. Madke, one of the co-founders, identified the potential for providing more than just consulting services in the field, starting to produce the substances required by diagnostic laboratories.
The project's creation started in 2003.
“I went to see the premises of Raiar, and our project pleased the people at the incubator”, he recalls. To help with operations, he invited Dr. Osvaldo Estrela Anselmi, Head of Nuclear Medicine of PUCRS' São Lucas Hospital, to become his partner. The doctor, also a professor at the University's School of Medicine, entered the partnership as an angel investor.
A project the size of a pharmaceutical enterprise was so different from the others that Raiar has had to come up with a different business model to host the operation. The need for building a larger structure and even the bureaucratic liberation procedures with the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) would demand a time frame of two years for the company to start operating.
The problem is that the incubation projects, not only in Raiar, but also in most business incubators, set a time limit of two years in the incubating support environment.
By the time I would finish setting up the laboratory and have the opportunity to do something, I would be required to leave the premises.
But some adjustments were made, and we were given a space that would be reserved for business incubator graduates, keeping the incubation relationship model”, recalls Madke.
RPH Group was established in the premises in 2003. The group devised a structure, set up a laboratory, provided certification, and finally, started studies for production. Products began to be developed in 2007. The following year, when the patent for a drug called Cardiolite, used in nuclear medicine for myocardial scintigraphy procedures expired, RPH had already elaborated its generic substance.
Following the quality standards of multinational corporations, but costing a quarter of the prices of reference products, Radiopharmacus started to compete with Bristol, Cardiolite's original manufacturer, and with IPEN. The price offered and the quality of the product have ensured a market reach for RPH, and the first financial results that would support the next steps.
Nine items in the RPH portfolio are oriented toward tests such as brain, kidneys, liver, heart, bones and breasts imaging. The establishment of the company has helped to instigate the development of this industry in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Radiopharmacy is a very noble field of study in Brazil, but at that time, not a single School of Pharmacy was involved with it”, Madke says, highlighting that PUCRS took the lead in this process.
The Pharmaceutical Technology course, of the School of Pharmacy of the University, started to incorporate topics oriented toward the study of radiopharmacy. Subsequently, some professionals focusing in this area were trained. This development has generated a virtuous process, with PUCRS capturing funds for the development of the Brain Institute of Rio Grande do Sul, with its own industrial radiopharmacy.
The RPH Group also expanded because of this partnership, which had a great effect in the regulatory process, helping the company in obtaining the good practices certification at the beginning of 2014.
It was the first certification granted by Anvisa to this type of product in Brasil”, said the director enthusiastically, highlighting that, because of the certification, the company has increased sales and is now authorized to export.
Currently occuping three rooms at Tecnopuc in Porto Alegre, the company plans to migrate all of them to a bigger site at Tecnopuc in Viamão.
Getnet creates a capture system of vertical cards
It was only for two years, but they were remarkable. Between 2004 and 2006, Brazil's third greatest player in purchases with cards in Brazil, Getnet, was hosted at Tecnopuc. The space allocated in building 96D, in Porto Alegre, worked as a cave, where new projects were incubated. The concept represented an environment where all professionals remained focused in innovation towards business, free from interference caused by short term demands.
The isolation of the Getnet headquarters, at the time located in Campo Bom, 60 kilometers away from Porto Alegre, brought quality of life, thanks to the interaction with Tecnopuc's ecosystem, and it also added collaboration into the mix.
“The greatest benefits of being in the Park are the variety of people and the possibility of working with the new generations, who are more open-minded”, says Cristian Mairesse Cavalheiro, Vice President for Technology at Getnet. Incidentally, he graduated from PUCRS, in Systems Analysis.
In 2004, besides Getnet, two other undertakings in IT segments by the group set up teams in the newly established installations: Goodcard and Quantiza. At least 40 people were connected to the three projects, with distinctive roles.
The decision to establish a connection with Tecnopuc was made by the company's main shareholders. Until the 1980s, shoes were the flagship of the company's business in Brazil.
Investments in technology have started with Goodcard, which originated Getnet – which, in turn, was acquired in 2014 by Banco Santander do Brasil.
One of the company's projects in the Park was to develop a capture system for vertical cards, covering segments of regional issuers, private label and ticketing.
The teams were split up. The group with the mission of presenting short term solutions stayed in the headquarters; the group involved with longer term demands remained at PUCRS.
“By keeping a distance, we interfered less in their work, This avoided compromising the focus of the teams. The teams had time to research, make mistakes, and redo their work”, Cavalheiro explains.
“Being in the Park opened doors, and sealed our reputation as an innovative player”, he adds.
The solution generated in the cave in the Building 96D was responsible for guaranteeing up to 50% of the captured transactions flow by the company at the time.
Another lesson learned was creating a methodology for developing new projects, something that was brought when the enterprise was established in Porto Alegre, with 300 professional IT workers. There is another nucleus in São Paulo, with 60 people.
Tecnopuc is still part of Getnet's history, even though the company is now outside of the Park's headquarters.
“Companies need to be entrepreneurial, and the University can collaborate a lot in this. Besides, these environments stimulate and support operations that start small and national and may turn into global successful cases”, says Cavalheiro.