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PUCRS Innovation Marathon brings students together in search for solutions

MIP's opening panel occurred on Monday, Sept 21, and featured director of MIT’s Design Laboratory, Yihyun Lim

23/09/2020 - 11h28

With the theme “How will we build the cities we want to live in?”, this year’s edition of PUCRS Innovation Marathon – MIP (Maratona de Inovação da PUCRS) brings students from all the University’s Academic Schools in the search for solutions to problems involving Smart, Human and Sustainable Cities. In the evening of Monday, Sept 21, more than 250 students began this interdisciplinary journey which, due to the pandemic, has been adapted to take place virtually.

During the opening panel of the Marathon, the Innovation Agent and School of Health and Life Sciences  professor, Dr. Rafael Baptista, highlighted that MIP’s is intended to connect academic knowledge with market practice. “Participants of the Marathon will encounter real problems that challenge them to think up solutions using investigative reasoning, empathy and interaction with other participants. It is also a moment to explore the potential for generating new products or businesses (startups), in the context of the proposed solution, using creative methodologies in an environment of innovation and entrepreneurship”, Baptista added.

Generating change

To inspire students on the theme of MIP 2020, the opening panel featured the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Design Laboratory, Yihyun Lim. She was welcomed by PUCRS’ Business School professor, Dr. Edimara Luciano, and by Luiz Carlos Pinto, coordinator of Pacto Alegre and director of the School of Engineering of UFRGS.

The way Lim sees it, technological changes are occurring faster and faster, and it is necessary to assess the impacts from a human perspective. Lim also stressed how important it is for all agents to work on common agendas. “An example of this is that we are facing climate problems all over the world. Our question here is: how do we become more resilient? The answer to this question requires joint efforts of several areas”, she said.

The Pacto Alegre coordinator also addressed the speed of change. “No generation has experienced as many changes as we have. We need to be prepared. Developing Smart, Human and Sustainable Cities can be the answer to many current problems” Luiz Carlos said.

Integration and transformation

MIP is promoted by a joint effort between the seven Academic Schools of the University, IDEAR – Institute for Research and Development and PUCRS’ Science and Technology Park – Tecnopuc. The coordinator of Idear and School of Business professor, Dr. Naira Libermann, emphasized the importance of working with entrepreneurship in a cross-sectional way. “The first marathon involved only one Academic School. Today we are happy to see MIP bringing all Schools

together, with representatives from each one. Working and talking about entrepreneurship in a cross-sectional way and putting this in practice is a collective effort”, the coordinator of Idear pointed out. For Ana Cecília Bisso Nunes, academic coordinator of Idear and School of Communications, Arts and Design – FAMECOS professor, integration fosters change. “Being open to interacting with people from different areas of knowledge is an entrepreneurial attitude and a factor for social transformation”, Ana Cecília says.

Connecting with the ecosystem of innovation

According to Dr. Jorge Audy, Superintendent of Innovation and Development at PUCRS, not only is MIP an arena for students to interact, but it also connects between the University’s innovation environments. “We have taken a very cool path, we put in a lot of effort, cooperated with the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Superintendence, through Idear, from Tecnopuc, and engaged several other actors in the innovation ecosystem of PUCRS”. For Audy, providing students with the concrete opportunity to create their future is the reason for PUCRS to exist. “Not surprisingly, the strategic positioning of our university is centered on innovation and development”, he pointed out.

Tecnopuc’s Executive and coordinator of INOVAPUCRS Network, Flavia Fiorin, stressed the role of the Schools’ innovation agents in connecting the different areas. “The innovation agent is a reference within the Academic School. They will encourage discussion in its contexts. Interdisciplinarity is a hallmark of this group, from which initiatives like MIP are born”, Flávia stressed.