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10 Years of Technological Evolution

20 Dec 2021 News

10 Years of Technological Evolution

10 Years of Technological Evolution

10 Years of Technological Evolution

Opinion article by João Bessa, Technology Manager at Fibrenamics.

Science and technology have never evolved as much as in recent years. This is proven by data on investment in innovation when in 2019 Portugal recorded 2,987 million euros of investment in research and development (R&D), equivalent to 1.4% of GDP. These figures gain particular relevance, especially when compared with those recorded in 2005, when the value of this expenditure, distributed between the public and private sectors, barely exceeded 1 billion euros. Naturally, these indicators reflect a generalized global trend toward investment in innovation. Several factors have contributed to this, such as globalization, cost reduction, and the need to increase productivity.

In an era dominated by the resource and access to the internet, we clearly stopped living as isolated communities, very dependent on local resources and started to see the market as a "global village", of which everyone is (or should be) part, with a much more diversified offer, providing opportunities for market expansion. This major paradigm shift has promoted greater competitiveness, from which the development of products through disruptive solutions became a means of survival. Thereby, and allied to this consequence, the search for cost reduction and productivity increase, resulting from automation and optimization of technological processes, assume a decisive role. In fact, there is no doubt that the scientific and technological evolution since we entered the new millennium has been significant, sometimes at a breakneck speed. But have we always evolved in the right way, or in the most effective way?

A popular Portuguese slang says that "haste is the enemy of perfection", and this can perhaps make some of the innovation processes less than efficient. I think there are two fundamental variables for the success of this equation: a careful trend analysis, and a mindset oriented towards the final goal from the beginning of the process to its conception. The analysis and definition of trends became very important to understand the levels of maturity of certain technological concepts to explore and, considering the market needs, therefore anticipate the main problems that will need to be addressed in the coming years. On the other hand, it is also fundamental that the mindset for the development of innovative products and solutions is market and user-oriented, i.e., oriented to those who are primarily responsible for their economic return. This has been, in the past, one of the gaps in the development of scientific knowledge, the fact that it was closed as an end, capable only of generating scientific production, and not providing society with the fruits of the scientific knowledge generated. It became evident the purpose of Fibrenamics, in the development of knowledge, throughout its history, based on the motto "From Science to People".

Thereby, for the success of this path gains dimension the "collaborative research" since in several development sectors there are multiple actors involved, who have to be listened to. The key to success lies, above all, in the ability to understand the real needs of the market, and in the definition of scientific and technological development criteria and areas that will allow us to achieve this end.

It is clear that, for this, funding programs to promote this entrepreneurial spirit will also continue to be fundamental. After H2020, Horizon Europa is approaching, which, in the voice of Carlos Moedas, as European Commissioner, aims to be "the most ambitious European research and innovation program ever, shaping the future for a strong, sustainable and competitive European economy, benefiting all regions of Europe."

Science and technology have never evolved so much as in the last 10 years. And in this domain, without a doubt, the role of Fibrenamics, in the national and international context, is an example in the transfer of knowledge from Universities to Society.

May the next 10 years continue to provide us with new paths for technological development, because "as long as there is still a road to travel, we will continue".

João Bessa, Technology Manager at Fibrenamics Association.

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