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| References | Interviews |Interview with Eng. Fernando Moreira, President of INOV|

Interview with Eng. Fernando Moreira, President of INOV
With nearly 8 years of existence of INOV, what is the balance of its activity as a technological infrastructure? Has INOV successfully responded to its mission of transferring technology and contributed to innovation and entrepreneurship?

INOV inherited from INESC solid experience in various fields essential for establishing a proper Technological Infrastructure (TI) in accordance with the requirements formulated in PEDIP II and evolved within the scope of POE and PRIME. Among these aspects, the technology transfer occupies an important place. However, considering our mission of industry support via increase of competitiveness through innovation, we cannot forget the importance of the technological development and demonstration (in our core areas of electronics, telecommunications and information technology) as well as the advanced personnel training in business environment... Carrying out all this activity around the pivotal link between University and Industry.
Eng. Fernando Moreira,
President of INOV
Entering its eighth year of existence, INOV, without any doubt, has established itself as a reference entity in the business we carried out and activities we left behind. And we are recognised as such not only for the achievements per se (ultimately embodied in the budget figures) but also for indications collected "on the ground" and, more formally, for the high score we gained in most assessments used by the AdI (Portuguese Innovation Agency) in the last decade to analyse the performance of technological infrastructures. Of course, all the time we have to struggle for better outcome, there is always room for improvement: one or other innovation instrument still remains outside the scope of our attention or is not used in its full potential (for example, entrepreneurship and internationalisation of solutions). However, in general, we were able to correctly interpret what is expected from us and to implement it in practice.

Over these years, what kind of technological area and activity has shown more evident growth? What can be identified as a strategic priority for our country to differentiate itself and become a player of reference?
We have a clear perception that the emphasis on the remote monitoring solutions enables us to meet a wide range of current and future needs, recognised and perceived by different entities acting in today's economy. Because the solutions to which I refer such as MONICAP for the marine monitoring, XTraN for the terrestrial fleet management (transferred to TECMIC), CICLOPE for video surveillance of large areas, SAFEGROUND for airport vehicle management, etc., integrate those internal values of INOV that constitute the basis of our knowledge and scientific & technological developments. That is, the units for remote operation are connected with electronics (including sensors, power supply units, signal processing, and so on), they need design and product engineering, they communicate remotely over telecommunications networks (fixed and/or mobile, terrestrial or space), feed the information systems (e.g., geographic information systems) providing visualisation, and store data in the structured systems of database management, eventually acting in the Web environment.

Based on the above mentioned key technological aspects, we solidified our expertise in remote monitoring systems and created additional and innovative solutions that allow to supervise and/or to control remotely diverse objects (such as ships, containers, cars, people, cameras, etc.) as well as to monitor various parameters (such as water level, air/water temperature, wind properties and so on) and, moreover, provide business management solutions that extend the information system coverage down to the tiniest structural elements.

Clearly, we are aware that the medicine or, say, renewable-energy technological solutions have strong growth potentials; but once again, our assertion here is always connected with implementation of our key technology capabilities, bearing in mind that some of them are almost unique in the national level.

What are your future challenges, especially in the field of internationalisation and entrepreneurship?

Our strategic objectives lies in creating new economical opportunities for utilisation of various activities developed in INOV, holding our strong cooperation with the University. It is this global objective-challenge scope that embraces such directions as:

  • realisation of strong and high-added-value cooperation with the industry, firms, and other national and international centres of knowledge (involving in the structural international collaboration is among our priorities, we expect that this will lead us to signing contracts with such important companies as CMU, MIT, Austin, and Fraunhoffer;
  • decreasing the dependence on the structural support (though necessary for maintaining a pro-active position of the technology infrastructure in some subsidised areas supported by the offer);
  • internationalisation of the business, not only for continuing our involvement in the European R&D projects, but for increasing the export of solutions and know-how; our trades in PALOPs (Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa Portuguese-speaking African Countries) should continue and multiply;
  • finally, the entrepreneurship: INOV is being involved in several partnership relations where we can give good examples of creating spin-offs and/or start-ups; we start to conduct certain organisational policy that favours this innovation aspect, having one structure already created (Forestland) and two (PET and TURBAN) in embryo.

As to the particular challenges of the internationalisation and entrepreneurship, I would like to note that both depend on the investment of one of the noblest and the most essential innovation ingredients: the innovators. Indeed, one cannot expect significant internationalisation of activity or entrepreneurship without strong efforts (and even sacrifices) from the part of the employees. We must believe in the potential of our results, and I think we have good examples of what can be such a challenge and the institutional benefits that "our sweet home" INOV can harvest. I count on all our staff in putting forward these ideas, which occupy a lot our minds but not yet yield the desired results.

There is an identified need for our businesses to work in a more cooperative way to compete better in the increasingly demanding markets. How the institutes such as INOV can facilitate this process? That is, how they can contribute to the creation and promotion of partnerships?
The basic values that INOV relies upon in its activity clearly demonstrate the important role that the R&D institutes play in innovation in Portugal. They are: education and training of employees; commitment to innovation, trust, agility, humility, efficiency, competence and networking. It is with these ingredients that we work with SMEs, large companies, multinationals, government agencies (central and local) playing various roles according to the current situation, from technology divulgation/dissemination (which can be a simple advice or an in-depth surveillance) to project partnership, servicing, technology brokering, providing technical and technological support, etc. The ability to assume all these roles, based on technical and scientific values protected as an intellectual property, gives us the features that are both necessary and sufficient for launching innovation activity with an economic player of virtually any type.
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