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LOURES INOVA
City/Region : Municipality of Loures , Portugal

Loures Inova is a business and training centre for the agri-food and logistic sectors, which aims at fostering the establishment of new companies and the renewal and re-qualification of the cluster's business, with emphasis on innovation and technology-based entrepreneurship thus creating a culture of innovation in "Agro-Food & Logistics", with high value-added.
It was created in 2015, with a partnership between Loures Municipality, Lisbon Region Supply Market (MARL) and Madan Parque - Association of Science and Technology Park Almada/Setúbal (NOVA University of Lisbon).
 

Agendas addressed
Local economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Apply innovative financing approaches
  • Support open data standards
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation
Context
Loures Inova Inauguration Event ( Credit:Municipality of Loures)

Loures Municipality, together with the MARL structure, bring in its business ecosystem the most important national companies in the agro-food and logistics sectors.
The need to promote differentiation of this companies’ cluster and increase its competitive advantages in a context of global market and economic decline led to the creation of Loures INOVA (http://www.louresinova.pt).

It aimed to create an Innovation Ecosystem, favourable to innovation and technological development, capable of promoting competitiveness and structuring investment in a cluster with strong representation and growth potential in the territory.

Through this initiative, Loures promotes the establishment of new companies in the region, the business fabric requalification, increases the human resources qualification and the development of fast-growing business projects with international impact, thus affirming the territory by its excellence in knowledge, innovation and technological development, competing with other regional, national and European territories.
 

In Action
Loures Inova Facilities ( Credit:Municipality of Loures)

"If companies in Loures get new ways to approach the market, this becomes development for the municipality", "We want the municipality to be known as innovative and with dynamic companies”  - António Pombinho, Loures Councilman.

Loures INOVA is a business and training center that, with its "cluster" characteristics, allows the environment optimisation for the growth of business units with a strong innovation and entrepreneurship component, such as spin-offs and start-ups, based on the support for projects with technological innovation, which will enhance the renewal of the cluster's business fabric through the promotion of companies with high added value:

- by innovation partnerships: an innovation program in partnership with Madan Parque, which allows the incubation of projects in the test phase, supported in a business matching model of technology transfer;
- for internationalisation mentors: promotion and work sessions with international partners;
- for business environment: support to the entrepreneurs, coaching services, seed capital and internationalisation, permanent security and access to support services

Loures INOVA plays an important role in the development with the materialisation of a performance model based on networks, reflecting several levels of intervention where, through the institutional support of public entities to people and companies, develops effective partnership relationships with universities, knowledge centers and other relevant actors in innovation.

Loures Municipality is the interface between the various actors of this system, promoting the business dynamics in order to reach high standards of competitiveness, fundamental to the success and sustainability of the local economy.

Making it necessary to materialise, in the short term, a new paradigm of action supported by the creation of infrastructures to host and accelerate projects, the three entities agreed on the need to provide a legal framework to the Loures INOVA structure through the creation of a private non-profit association.

The association aims at promoting innovation and technological development in Loures, encompassing the agri-food, transport and logistics sectors, among others, supported by a network of entities whose common objectives are based upon the reinforcement of territorial promotion and competitiveness. Loures INOVA also promotes articulation between the academy, the centers of knowledge and the companies, in a local, regional, national and international context, by itself or in cooperation with other entities.

Results
Loures Inova Inauguration Event ( Credit:Municipality of Loures)

The objective of the actions carried out was defined by the construction of a network of partners, with the aim of enhancing its areas of action, by integrating common values, similar action contexts and using existing physical structures. Loures INOVA Action Plan has four areas corresponding to four complementary axes for the promotion and support of innovative projects, namely, International R&D, R&D ClusterLab, Business Incubator and Business Innovation.

In terms of results Loures INOVA has 16 founder partners. These partners are characterised by their diversity in terms of companies size, type of companies and sectors (financial, technology, research, and others).

Loures INOVA brings together a business activation and support team, providing support for the appliance for funding in the context of Portugal 2020 and Horizon 2020, in the development of technological innovation projects, and in the creation of new business platforms.

In addition to the public launch of Loures INOVA, the first semester program included a series of events to promote  funding opportunities and research programs, open to SMEs. In the context of this cycle of events, several sectorial meetings were held, promoting the discussion and gathering of contributions from the cluster's corporate and associative agents, in the form of technical sessions, aiming at designing the portfolio of technical services to be created in the context of Loures INOVA.

The incubator is already in certification process by the national incubators network.

Impact

The Innovation ecosystem created is based upon a networked platform, with the involvement of all stakeholders, in order to implement actions and mechanisms, crucial to the success of the innovation and technological development of the territory. Its implementation, inspired by the best national and international practices, is carried out through a shared process, with the identification and involvement of partners, which will encourage and create interesting opportunities for development and innovation in the territory. This model reflects 5 levels of active and passive intervention where, through the institutional support of public entities / governance, individuals or companies, with innovative initiatives, develop a strategic relationship with universities, national research institutes and other actors, with an important innovation factor.

Loures INOVA´s characteristics favour the growth of business units with a strong innovation and entrepreneurship component, such as spin-offs and start-ups.  This will allow the creation of economic development mechanisms based on the introduction of new products and services with high technological profile. For that, a partnership with relevant entities, such as Madan Parque, is extremely relevant.  Madan Parque has the know-how of innovation project management, based on the technological knowledge of the university FCT-UNL and the UNINOVA research center, thus enabling the externalisation of knowledge and research through the transfer of knowledge and technology by collaborating with the cluster companies.
In terms of local impacts it is expected to have at least 30 companies per year in the acceleration programme. From this, 10 companies will be selected and will have the possibility to integrate the incubator for one year. This process will favour job creation in the new companies and will promote the creation of innovative products and processes and the internationalisation of their products.

Challenges and lessons learned
Loures Inova Facilities ( Credit:Municipality of Loures)

The main challenges encountered were related to the type of sectors and the dimension of the companies. In the first stage of this process a company’s characterisation analysis was carried out. This analysis revealed that the agro-food and logistics sectors are very traditional sectors, not so open to innovation. Additionally, these sectors present a large number of small companies with “familiar” characteristics. Over two years, Loures INOVA developed a number of actions to diagnose and monitor the needs, established specific mediation between entrepreneurs and academia, promoted training actions, disseminated financing programs and other relevant instruments for business activity

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