We know that we face crossroads in our lives and in our organizations, many challenges that require creativity, innovation, different solutions, and different approaches than the ones we have been using. For instance, we are living in a climate emergency - we know that this is one of the most urgent matters that we need to deal with, and because of that nature is collapsing. Every day, we are seeing ecosystems being disrupted, forest fires that are unbelievable, floods in times that weren’t originally flooding times. At the same time, we also see social unrest, inequalities raised to a level that we should be worried about.

What do these problems have to do with us? Well, it’s our job. We are the ones that need to solve these with the way we think, how we act as citizens, the way we manage our companies, teach our students, and face the world. And this is the reason why New SBE Innovation Ecosystem can be of much value – because we can have an increase of creativity and innovation if we work together.

Our innovation ecosystem is a community of innovators that can really understand that what is expected from companies is changing fast. Scrutiny is increasing, policies are changing, politics have been failing, trust is at risk, we never trusted so little in our institutions and organizations. We know that business as usual is not good enough. Business as usual is economically risky, environmentally stupid, socially unacceptable, and legally dangerous. Therefore, we need to build the next generation of businesses and value propositions. That is the purpose that binds us all together. We need to navigate into new ways of doing business and of thinking and acting like citizens.

Our purpose is a powerful igniter of positive coalitions and sparks of innovation and creativity.

It’s time to act now. We need to unleash the power of innovation to address these challenges. Only innovation can solve these very hard equations for which we haven’t found great solutions so far. We need to unleash the power of innovation to build more sustainable and competitive businesses. This is a community of innovators for the future – our vocabulary is this idea of impact and sustainability; our stakeholders are the game-changers.

It’s a platform to get people together: our students, this powerful force of creativity and imagination, that we can tap in to understand how new generations are thinking about products, services, business models, and the way they are dealing with, buying, and using things; our faculty - we are lucky to have world-class faculty that we can tap in to add value, learn from the best and the courage that we have in our labs and in our knowledge centres, that we can bring into the equation; the companies, our partners, and our alumni that are game-changing the world today in numerous organizations.

We want to tap into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, start-ups, funding entities, corporate VCs, we need to tap into governments and public stakeholders. It’s a quadruple helix approach when we get the higher education, the research, combined with companies, citizens, and the public sector. This is a playground for collaboration and needs to be a playground for coalitions.

Think of this Nova SBE Innovation Ecosystem as a jazz band

it might seem that now and then the guitar player is playing for himself, the drummer is holding the beat, and the bass player is trying to maintain the rhythm, and the singer is trying to convey a message. In jazz, sometimes it feels like they are doing their own thing, which, is true. They are doing their own thing, but if we listen carefully, they combine, it makes sense – their individuality builds a better collective. This is my metaphor for this innovation ecosystem. We can experiment like in jazz bands, improvise and fail! This is a safe space for failure! I hate failure, we all avoid it, but we need to accept that most likely we are going to fail. What we do with failure is what matters – how we learn, how fast we learn, because changing on the outside is faster and inevitable, and we need to keep up. This ecosystem is an adaptive one, like a living organism, it’s not and will never be closed. It is a never-ending circle.

What we are trying is to bring a new ambition, because the challenges are demanding, the rate of change is faster than ever, it’s exponential. These are the pioneer companies that believed in this ecosystem, besides the Nova SBE partners, that brought their innovation teams to campus: Imprensa Nacional, Casa da Moeda, Cybergym, NOS, CEIIA, Grupo Ageas Portugal, Morais Leitão, Oceano Fresco, and SIBS.

We already have guitar players, and drummers, bass and saxophone players, and singers. They are here: our Co.Innovation Lab has developed more than 100 projects since 2017, almost 1.500 corporate partners-participants, close to 1.000 students participants; our Digital Experience Lab has already implemented 5 digital transformation academies, since 2018, one Digital Acceleration Index at scale; the Westmont Tourism Institute of Tourism & Hospitality that was inaugurated this year and already has had 15 sessions of innovation programs, 12 speakers, and 6 summer internships; our Haddad Entrepreneurship Institute has incubated over 60 start-ups, creating 250 jobs, and raised a total investment of 45 million euros since 2017; the Data & Social Sciences Lab is one of the 40 recognized infrastructures of the Portuguese roadmap for research infrastructures with more than 1.200 researchers.

Our Nova SBE Ecosystem is a good way of exposing our students to the real world and the real challenges for businesses. Over the years we have partnered with players like Nestlé and Grupo Ageas Portugal to create hackathons joining companies, experts, and students.

We can’t address every problem at the same time, so we have decided to focus on five main topics and for each topic, we will have our Innovation Circle:

- Financial Services & Sustainable Finance

- Smart Cities & Communities

- Health & Wellbeing

- Space, Green & Blue Economy

- Hospitality & Customer Journeys

Each circle will be an active network that, of course, will collaborate with the other networks. In each circle, we can provide leading-edge collaboration through serendipity that fosters disruptive innovation. We will have four main activities in each of the circles:

- An acceleration program to fast-track new ideas and products

- A research program to apply the knowledge of our knowledge centres, researchers, and faculty

-- A networking and development program to learn from each other

-Student project programs to develop project-based learning

Ready to start innovating with us?

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