Viamão: a habitat for innovation
Encouragement to the integration between Academia and the productive sector is one of the priorities of Tecnopuc. A new dimension for this innovation ecosystem includes the expansion of its infrastructure and offered services. And, in this case, the Park's new site in Viamão is a priority.
The physical space at the main campus, in Porto Alegre, is operating close to capacity. Knowing this, PUCRS has been preparing the arrival to Viamão, in the Metropolitan Region, through its strategic planning, for some time.
In 2004, the institution purchased the new grounds, with an area of 15 hectares, inserted in the grounds of more than 150 hectares owned by PUCRS' supporter. The decision to develop a new potential for Viamão, known as a commuter town, was like an epic. Especially because it is considered a quiet city of 240,000 inhabitants. There are two symbols for this accomplishment, which was grounded on knowledge and the construction of a new innovation ecosystem.
One of them is the clock at the top of the tower of the building of the former seminary, that educated priests, philosophers and theologists of the Catholic Church – where the new Science and Technology Park is now established.
The other is the flag of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, always hoisted. “I chose these two symbols primarily to show the community that new life was coming to the former seminary”, he comments.
He looks back on the years of implementation as he admires the
large hall of the main building, duly revitalized and inviting.
The move was accompanied by a physical transformation of
the built facilities, which total over 30,000 m².
“We stripped the installations of the air of antiquity to give it poise, a contemporaneous quality”, he comments. Renovation works were intensified from 2012 to the official inauguration, in the second semester of 2013.
Tecnopuc Viamão is an ecosystem for new undertakings, and one example of this is Tecna (Audiovisual Technology Center of Rio Grande do Sul). Before this, though, some stigmas would need to be addressed, and eliminated, if possible. One of them was the location itself; the challenge of making the expansion area of Tecnopuc attractive to big companies, replicating the success of the pioneering site of the state capital, where everything started.
The problem was not in the Park's project or its new installations, but in the area itself and its traditional difficulty to attract investors and manpower.
Large groups came to see the installations, fell in love with them, and then teased me with a question: 'We are going to create from 300 to 400 positions, will there be enough people to hire?'”,
Faced with understandable restrictions which could not be removed overnight, the group for the implementation of Tecnopuc Viamão focused on attracting small business managers and candidates for incubation with great potential for growth. Additionally, it was noted that it was important to include all of the city's agents in this new undertaking: not only its inhabitants, but also its public managers.
In order to attract companies, small or large, a local policy stimulating innovation was necessary. The managers of Tecnopuc united with the city to help build a set of laws that could offer advantages to the companies that decided to set up camp there. One example was the tax rate on services (ISS), that went from 3% to 2% in areas relating with the Park's activities.
Thus, the city began to define a policy in order to really be competitive in the technology area. At Tecnopuc Viamão, there will be spaces not only for the audiovisual production chain, but also for research and services on alternative sources of energy, oil and gas, information technology, engineering and health.
Along with the change in the perception of community leaders and authorities, residential and commercial real estate projects (for example, a shopping mall nearby) have started to breed.
Professor Evilázio Teixeira, Marist Brother and Senior Vice President of PUCRS, says that the University acts as an agent for economic and social development, and, thus, collaborating with the city of Viamão is of the utmost importance.
Occupation at the Science and Technology Park in Viamão grows at a rate of 20% per year. In July 2014, 23 companies were in full operation, creating 180 jobs. Between 2011 and 2012, even before its inauguration, the installations received 11 incubating companies.
Sourtec, a company formed by young people trained at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), was the first enterprise at the Viamão site. The focus of their work is to analyze corrosion on oil ducts and develop a technology that will help Petrobras explore the immense pre-salt layer of oil reserve in the Brazilian shore.
Patience is a virtue on a new undertaking like the conquest of Viamão. The manager and all those who participated in the first years deserve a trophy. Little by little, new members arrived to the Park's family. Each new arriving member was welcomed with a barbecue party, a type of welcoming ritual.
To Ferst, the phase of welcoming the first members, which happened until 2013, was the conception phase of the Park.
“In 2014, our childhood began. And the good thing is that here we have a lot of room to build. I cannot imagine limits to our capacity”, he adds, optimistically.
The large site of the former seminary is a test to the mobility of inhabitants and visitors of Tecnopuc Viamão. Elevators are being installed to shorten distances between the floors. But it is more interesting moving around the premises by bike or kick scooter. The means of transport used by those who work in the companies and the Park staff follow the sustainability patterns incorporated to both Tecnopuc sites, in Viamão and Porto Alegre.
In the middle of the built area there is an outdoor area surrounded by the construction, and overlooked by the clock tower, with gardens that should soon receive living areas with coffee shops and furniture for resting between work shifts and for new interactions. Tecnopuc Viamão has started to innovate. It is the present and the future of PUCRS' Science and Technology Park.
lights, camera and Tecna!
An old seminary building for religious education turned into a scenery for the ambitious creative industry complex that started at Tecnopuc Viamão. This is the mission of the Audiovisual Technology Center of Rio Grande do Sul (Tecna), launched in 2011, in a partnership with the Department of Culture of the State of Rio Grande do Sul and the Cinema Foundation of Rio Grande do Sul (Fundacine).
The building, with high ceiling rooms and even a theater with a luxurious pump organ provides the project with inspiring components that promise to change the industry, in a short time, focusing on the global scenario.
Before the plans of the up-and-coming are revealed in detail, be prepared for a ride through the backstage area that resulted in the concept and viability of the undertaking. Since the 1980s, the cinema industry from the state of Rio Grande do Sul quietly yearned for a place to call their own. The creation skills and quality of the works developed by professionals with local roots have always been recognized by the market and in national and global festivals. However, the amount of projects used to grow only in the Rio-São Paulo area.
This had to change.
“We have a pool of talents here” says Aletéia Patricia Selonk, Coordinator of the Center and Professor at the School of Communication. To go forward, obstacles had to be overcome. Agents indicated the need for proper infrastructure in order to produce locally, with equipment, studios and areas devoted to audiovisual production. The challenge was to make this a reality.
The first version of the project was called Technological Center for Audiovisual Production (CTPAV), with funding from the public and private sectors, the latter having already established Fundacine. CTPAV needed a home, and had already considered Cais Mauá (Mauá Quay), in downtown Porto Alegre. This was in 2006, when the Center's future was uncertain.
PUCRS decided to jump at the opportunity, celebrating an agreement with the State government and Fundacine, thereby ceding an area formally for the creative minds of the audiovisual world. Another step was consolidating the BRL 25 million in funds that would come through parliamentary amendments in the National Congress, in order to set the project in motion. However, nothing was easy.
“I came in September 2010 to get my hands dirty, but then there were contingency measures in the Union's budget, and we came back to square one”, recalls Aletéia.
The staff at PUCRS and Tecnopuc made good use of creativity to tackle this issue. Before devising the strategy and set-up for Tecna, the group that manages the Park and the University visited other technology parks overseas. They visited audiovisual centers in France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Together, they visited old areas and factory districts geared toward the field that had policies bringing together agents of different origins. This is what makes up a cluster. In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Tecna is a protagonist in the field.
The Audiovisual Technology Center stems from PUCRS' expertise in capturing funds through good projects. Tecna is taking its definite shape with a dynamic and agile spirit, and with an innovation streak, which are virtues of Tecnopuc. The masterminds behind this project expect the initiative to become a beacon for creative industry and audiovisual production.
Investments in the project in 2014 totaled approximately BRL 27 million: BRL 11 million coming from Finep; BRL 7.7 million from Fapergs (Foundation for Research Support of the State of Rio Grande do Sul); BRL 3.3 million from calls for funds to support the creative industry and technology parks; and BRL 5 million from PUCRS, as a financial complement to public and private funding.
An external committee will manage the Center, with agents from the audiovisual industry, the government and research institutions.
New economy models in the world go through the so-called creative industry, and the audiovisual field is seeking its place. The state of Rio Grande do Sul is beginning to develop its foundation. At Tecna, the possibilities are multiplied.
“Movies, television, theater, fashion, advertising, digital games, applications, Internet. Imagine this in an economic chain as a whole – creation, production, distribution and commercialization”, says Aletéia.
Works to build the main environment for APL started in 2013, after the official press release announcing the opening of Tecnopuc Viamão. Laboratories with physical space for research and shared occupation between agents were installed by the project coordinators. The goal is to create interaction between Academia, the productive sector and the government.
One of the top priorities will be training human resources, promoting capacity building in technicians geared toward front office operations in audiovisual departments. The ecosystem that is being created enables shared occupation, with companies developing projects and using spaces to create sets for recording and post production. The infrastructure will be available for students, who will be able to apply concepts they received in training.
University is geared
toward the market,
and the market
is geared toward
This generates knowledge to
develop the field”,
says the coordinator of Tecna.
The laboratories area will have a creative pre-incubator, in alignment with Raiar's operations.
“We will receive projects from business players, who will receive advice and training in order to make them more consistent so they can go forward with their ideas. These will be our resident projects”, adds Aletéia.
In this structure, the idea is to build two movie and television studios, rooms for pre-production, costumes, sets, dressing rooms and equipment storage rooms. Available resources allow planning and execution of the audiovisual center to take place in the Tecna environment. The center will have a studio laboratory for sound mixing, another for motion capture (a technology that maps movement for use in animation and special effects), an animation studio, and digital games. Everything will be supported by powerful data processing machines. Research projects that are developed at PUCRS' School of Communication (Famecos) are going to move to the new facilities.
A 5.1 mixing studio will make finishing projects in Viamão possible, something that today can only be done in São Paulo or cities of neighboring countries, like Buenos Aires (Argentina) or Santiago (Chile). This could attract projects created outside of the state borders, which will find in the premises of Tecnopuc the manpower and the intelligence to make them happen.
This undertaking will create conditions for the audiovisual industry in the state to apply more eagerly and with a better structure to resources from the Audiovisual Sector Fund in Brazil.
Additionally, the new regulations for paid television (Law no. 12,485), of 2012, determine that at least 2,000 hours of programming should be produced nationally.
Tecna will keep the regional markets heated, and may become a significant supplier for the production volume. Inspiration and references are not lacking.
We have observed
the national and
markets, and this
allows us to project
future, says the coordinator
Box Brazil invests in independent programming
The economic chain of audiovisual production requires several stages, from creation to exhibition, so that projects can reach the public and become viable. The synergy in these stages, incidentally, is part of the visionary development that takes place at Tecna. An important case of study is Box Brazil, an independent cross-platform programmer geared toward the distribution and exhibition of Brazilian audiovisual content.
Established in the Portal Tecnopuc building, in Porto Alegre, the company has six channels. Four of which are geared toward the Brazilian market and available in several paid TV operators. The two others are focused on TV viewers from Portuguese-speaking African countries, as, for example, Só Novelas. They are all broadcast straight from the Box Brazil studios in the Park.
“Our commitment is to foster the growth of Brazilian independent production, paving its way for reaching TV viewers through our channels. Thus, we choose to encourage production companies instead of producing content”,
says Cícero Aragon, President and Director of Box Brazil.
Among the challenges is the change in public perception in relation to national audiovisual productions, especially movies. With this in mind, the TV channel Prime Box Brazil is dedicated exclusively to showing movies and series produced in the last 12 years with refined aesthetic sense, as well as an outstanding quality of sound and image.
Box Brazil also seeks to develop a strong relationship with the local production, being an important window to showcase local content. Thus, it becomes the pioneering organization in the audiovisual cluster of the state, stimulated by Tecna and integrating and fostering the entire chain.
“We have a relationship with Tecnopuc that goes beyond our physical presence in the Park. It is the synergy created by being close to an environment like Tecna, that every day gathers more players of the audiovisual cluster of the state”, adds Aragon.
Another result of the partnership can be noted by the fact that, in just three years, Box Brazil has become the second largest national TV programmer, and the biggest among independent programmers. It is also the only multi-channel programmer that does not broadcast via satellite from the Rio-São Paulo area.
“Being outside of the main economic region and constantly needing to invest in professional training due to the specificity of our operations can be challenging. Despite this, our presence in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is justified by having an alignment of projects and ideas with Tecnopuc, as well as by the innovation, the quality, and the desire to contribute to the development of the audiovisual productive chain of our state”, says the President and Director.
One of the intentions of Box Brasil is to consolidate their original project before effectively becoming a cross-platform programmer, making channels and contents available beyond the paid TV market. “We will offer our channels and contents wherever people are and whenever they desire”, says Aragon.
Among applications being developed are Set-Top Box, Smart TVs and mobile devices, as well as online platforms with on-demand contents.