Technological Interface Centers: what can they do for your business?

Technological Interface Centers (TIC). Ever heard of it? TIC are institutions that implement Research, Development, and Innovation (R&D&I) activities, with an impact on the services and products of companies.

These entities, recognized by the Portuguese Government in November 2017, on the proposal of the National Innovation Agency (ANI), promote technology transfer and innovation in companies through:

• certification processes,
• improving quality,
• efficiency in production,
• support for innovation activities,
• access to technologies in development,
• training of human resources.

Thus, TIC are fundamental entities of the national innovation system and agents of valorization of scientific and technological knowledge.


TIC – areas and locations

There are 28 entities recognized as TIC from north to south of the country in different areas (digital technologies, materials and nanotechnologies, production technologies, energy and sustainability, biotechnology and life sciences, transport and mobility).

Image: SoURCe ANI

Some of these entities are oriented to the theme of the digitalization and industry 4.0.

These 28 centers have more than 3350 associates and represent a turnover of more than 128 million euros.


Gain competitive advantage through R&D&I

Innovation is a key factor in business success. The degree of innovation of companies is directly correlated with their results. The most innovative SMEs in Portugal have a net result 7.8 times higher and a turnover 3.7 times higher, according to Innovation Scoring®, created by COTEC Portugal.

Therefore, the benefits of investing in innovation lead to more and more companies to invest in technological innovation.

So a dichotomy that can be done is not so much between large and small companies, but between companies that really want to innovate and those that do not want to, between which ones put innovation at the heart of their business strategy and those that do not.

However, a company can not innovate by itself. To foster innovation, it is necessary to diversify actors and relationships. A TIC can take on the role of an innovation broker, as an entity that is a hub for innovation. Together with companies, a TIC can intervene in all dimensions of the innovation process – from the definition of technological roadmaps to the development of solutions that improve the organization and its results.


The goal is to develop the market: try to empower companies and get them to realize the importance of innovation, science, technology, to the development of their own business.


A TIC, by detaining researchers with a high level of scientific and technological knowledge, guarantees excellence in the whole process, joining the talent, specialized scientific and technological training, to the real needs of the companies. In this way, technology centers are accelerators of technology transfer, from research to market needs.


An ecosystem of innovation – TIC – a bridge between the academic world and the business world

To implement innovation, collaboration needs to be enhanced. Trust and common language are two important issues in articulating the academic and business world. CITs are thus very important instruments for the approximation and appreciation of knowledge.

An innovation ecosystem is composed, first of all, of the agents of innovation. Second by the relations they establish between them. Thirdly by the impact each of these agents creates on others (by the force of their action and of these interactions).

It is necessary to have institutions that link universities and companies, which have very different objectives and differences, and that link these institutions with society. You need an interlocutor. It is the responsibility of the TIC to make this connection in the sectors where the transfer faces some resistance.


TIC are a bridge between academia and business, facilitating and promoting this interaction among agents, playing a key role in strengthening the ecosystem as a whole.


TIC: preparing the path for the future

According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2018, Portugal is still a moderate innovator. The valuation of knowledge is one of the main reasons why Portugal has not yet evolved into the group of the most innovative countries in Europe and the world. We only own 1% of the companies in the active business fabric with applied research and development, innovation (R&D&i).

Image: SoURCe European Innovation Scoreboard 2018.

The TIC have a medium to long-term horizon, which is very important for companies at a strategic level in their technological capabilities and market penetration.

TIC have a major role in large-scale projects, in the pre-competitive phase, to prospect the technologies that are likely to reach the market in about 10 years. They are a neutral territory where different companies from the same sector, which may be competitors at a given time, feel comfortable and can collaborate.

It is undeniable that ICTs are changing an entire industry. The bottom line is that companies need to invest more in R&D and digital skills. It will be the collaboration of the companies with the Scientific and Technological System that will allow leveraging the results.

This article results from the debate: “Transfer of Technology (University – Company): the Role of TIC”. CCG. 23-11-2018.

  • Moderator: Carlos Neves, CCG
  • Guests:
  • António Bob Santos, ANI Administrator – 3:50
  • Jorge Posada, Associate Director of Vicomtech and President – 24:52
  • João Bigotte, Prof. innovation and entrepreneurship of the MIT Portugal Program – 35:20
  • Fernando Romero, Researcher and Lecturer at UMinho – 51:10
  • Augusto Ferreira, TecMinho General Director – 58:34
  • Debate: 1:08:56

The Centro de Computação Gráfica (CCG) is one of the TIC for digital technology. CCG is a strategic partner in the research and innovation processes of companies and organizations wishing to integrate innovative processes, services, and products, based on high-value scientific and technological knowledge.

CCG is among the main national stakeholders in terms of funded projects, with an investment volume of more than 1 million euros in Industry 4.0 projects (April 2019 report from ANI).