We have a clear strategy to know better a city: meet a player and ask questions like crazy.
When we parked our Get Away Van at CRIA, we mere 5 minutes away from the ocean, 6 minutes from the airport. The environment was really peaceful and there were many shades to park the van, which was very useful in a hot day in the very south of Portugal, Algarve.
We met José Júlio Gonçalves and Hugo Barros, part of the CRIA team, that answered all our questions about the region and the work the University has been doing to boost it.
CRIA is the Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer Department of Algarve University that was created in 2003 as a result of a European project.
Differently from what we’ve seen in other cities, the buildings and the services they provide, grew with the needs of the region. What started with a technology exhibition from the University is now a set of small buildings with offices and laboratories which are complemented by the dedication and support of the team running it.
The department offers the support and the facilities to the entrepreneurs, but also promotes events, a web platform (Entrepreneur Portal) and a business competition, to promote the creation of companies in the region.
Even if the space belongs to the University, it works for the region, that has other incubators connected to commercial associations and also some coworking spaces.
Traditionally, the economy of the region has an obvious connection to the ocean, fishery is one of the economy drives. Tourism and the agrifood sectors are growing. Nowadays a lot of aquaculture projects connected to biotechnology appear. One example is Sparos, a spin-off company of the Centre of Marine Sciences of Algarve, devoted to innovate in the development of new products and processes for fish feeding and nutrition. They combine the strong scientific background in the area of fish nutrition with a flexible pilot-scale feed technology platform to the aquaculture sector.
Another example is Caviar Portugal, established in 2012, focused on the development and implementation of a sturgeon farm for caviar productions.
In the future, the goal is to build a Science and Technology Park in Algarve. Currently, the department is doing the possible to:
“Identify big concepts and technologies and take them to the market.” according to Hugo.