In this edition of "A chat with companies", we talked to Fátima Cardoso, head of Vodafone Power Lab, Vodafone's innovation program. This initiative, that has already supported more than 150 startups, has as main objective to "follow innovation and establish the bridge between the scientific and technologic community and Vodafone", she says.
Q: What’s the importance of Vodafone's relationship with the scientific and technologic community?
A: The telecommunications sector is highly dynamic, the market is demanding and technological evolution is always very present. As one of the main technological companies operating in this sector, Vodafone represents a vehicle for launching new solutions and technologies (such as 5G for example) and that is why it is very important to follow the developments of the scientific and technological community.
In this sense, Vodafone Power Lab's main objective is to follow innovation and establish the bridge between this ecosystem and Vodafone.
Q: How have Vodafone Portugal and the University of Porto been collaborating?
A: The relationship came about through the establishment of a partnership between Vodafone Power Lab and UPTEC, which has always had the main objective of maintaining close and continuous contact between the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the University of Porto and the innovation program of Vodafone Portugal.
This relationship has materialized over time in the involvement of Vodafone Power Lab in some UPTEC initiatives, such as the School of Startups, and has allowed a direct flow of presentation of incubated startups at UPTEC with the ability to be explored at Vodafone, as happened for example with HypeLabs.
On the other hand, this relationship facilitated the establishment of a physical incubation site for the Vodafone Power Lab at the UPTEC facilities, where some initiatives have already been promoted, such as City Challenges of the BIG Smart Cities competition, which during several editions has allowed us to know directly potential finalists for this national competition.
Q: What are the main challenges these two players face?
A: I believe that many of the challenges we currently face have been similar over time. That is, technological evolution is something that will always be present and with it comes the need for change and adaptation… hence it is relevant to have programs like Vodafone Power Lab that are dedicated to discovering innovative solutions developed in ecosystems dedicated to innovation, such as UPTEC, so that this adaptation is as agile as possible and thus respond effectively to the needs and requirements of the market.
If we think about more specific challenges within the relationship between large companies and startups, we can often encounter difficulties in establishing communication channels and Vodafone Power Lab facilitates this interaction, presenting entrepreneurs' solutions to important decision makers within the organization and establishing specific processes for creating long-term interactions between a given startup and Vodafone.