The Fundão Business Center, which is a finalist for the 2018 edition of the RegioStars European awards, takes over as the engine of the local innovation strategy, having already created 500 qualified jobs in a city in the interior of the country.
In four years, Fundão’s Business and Shared Services Center (CNSP) has attracted 14 information technology companies, created more than 500 jobs and boosted an ecosystem that generated 68 startups and projects, in addition to the implementation of Intensive programs of conversion of unemployed into computer programmers, which already covered 240 people (50% without university education and a 97% employability rate).
The CNSP is among the finalists of the RegioStars 2018 awards, an award with which the European Commission distinguishes innovative projects and good regional development practices, supported by European funds. The winner will be announced on Tuesday at a ceremony to be held in Brussels, where the European Week of Regions and Cities is taking place.
“At the height of the big crisis, we came up with an unemployment rate close to 20% and we made a bet on attracting software development companies, refunctionalizing public buildings that were not having great use,” said the president of Câmara do Fundão, Paulo Fernandes.
The municipality decided to invest 2.4 million euros (with the support of community funds) in the transformation of a multipurpose pavilion with 15 years in the CNSP, that today is the house “of more than 400 computer programmers”.
“Four years ago, we had three or four engineers, today we have more than 500 computer engineers and a strong ecosystem, in a city with less than 15 thousand inhabitants,” said Paulo Fernandes, pointing to a whole reorientation of the municipality, seeking to create a new technologies also in the traditional economic activities of the county.
For the mayor, the project is even more relevant because it has emerged in a county in a low population density and seen as a depressed part of the country.
“For decades, we have become used to seeing the skilled workforce leaving the county and entering it was very little. Today, this flow is getting more balanced and we hope to continue on this path and we know that there is still a lot to do” , he stressed.
For Paulo Fernandes, this project also represents another way of doing local politics, not only thinking of infrastructures, but also of the most immaterial component, whether in the reconversion of careers, in the transfer of technology to the market, in support systems for companies or in the bet on knowledge and innovation.
“From the point of view of the municipality’s budget, which has had economic difficulties for a long time, we have few means available and to play I say that what we are doing costs less than a few roundabouts that are made there. of Business was about 300 thousand euros. It is not an effort there, “he said.
Associated with the CNSP, the Fundão Chamber created an Incubator and Accelerator, a Fab Lab, an Advanced Training Center, a Software Validation and Certification Center and also focused on urban rehabilitation, with the rehabilitation of around 150 housing projects since 2013, with another 100 under construction.
According to available information, there was a reduction of more than 50% of unemployment in the county and the migration balance was positive in 2015, “for the first time in many years.”
Portugal has four projects among the 21 RegioStars finalists, two from the North and two from the Center.
I3S and the Fundão Business and Shared Services Center compete in the category of support for the intelligent industrial transition, the Kastelo project in the area of better access to public services and the Museum of Vista Alegre in the category of investment in cultural heritage.
Portugal is also represented in the international project ClimACT, a consortium of nine European institutions led by Instituto Superior Técnico, in Lisbon, which aims to support the transition to a low-carbon economy in national schools, but also in Spain, France and Gibraltar.