Project of the week: UPTEC as a catalyst for structural change in the Portuguese region Norte
The Norte Region has traditionally depended on a range of low-tech and export-focused industries, among them textiles, shoes and furniture. Under the pressure of globalization, many firms across the region aim to add value to their products by upgrading processes. Others seek to become specialised suppliers in emerging sectors such as scientific equipment, mouldings and information systems. A further challenge for the region is its business sector’s weakness in R&D activities. Therefore the regional authorities took action with Norte Region’s Innovation Plan, which refocused regional development policy on specific assets like health, ICT and production technologies, creative industries, marine technologies and other sea-related activities.
In this context the UPTEC project –Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto came to life. The project, which benefited from 15.4 million EU funding, is organised into four poles: Technology, Creative Industries, Sea Technology and Biotechnology. Two support structures for business - Incubators and Centres for Business Innovation were set up in order to foster start-up companies and innovation centres, supported by academia.
The UPTECH Technology Centre welcomes a group of companies and innovation centres in areas such as energy, energy efficiency, polymers and composite materials, IT and communications, and robotics. The UPTEC PINC (Centre of Creative Industries) calls on the university’s creative and cultural expertise by supporting companies in business areas such as film, video and audiovisual, TV and radio, print, design, performing and visual arts, architecture, music, entertainment, and educational software.
The project UPTEC has so far assisted 110 firms, including 95 start-ups, five large companies and five private innovation centres. The project has created some 800 graduate jobs, contributing to the robust economic growth in the region. It was awarded for the RegioStars 2013 in the category “Smart Growth”.
Clara Gonçalves, Assistant Executive of UPTEC states about the project:
‘Supporting effective knowledge and technology transfer between academia and business, UPTEC is working to become a world-class science and technology park, driving change and revitalising the Portuguese economy. In times of austerity and crisis, his existence would not have been possible without EU-funding. The recognition at the RegioStars Awards represents the hope that UPTEC endeavours to bring not only to the Norte Region of Portugal but to the whole country.’