Riccardo Fini addresses academic entrepreneurship in Italy

On February 18 Porto Business School was the meeting point for students, researchers, policy makers and executives, to participate in a talk titled “Fifteen Years of Academic Entrepreneurship in Italy,” by Riccardo Fini, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Bologna (UNIBO), and Research Fellow at Imperial College Business School London.

View Riccardo Fini’s presentation slides

Riccardo Fini has been collecting and studying solid evidence about the characteristics and the performance of startups and spinoffs in academic environments in Italy for over 15 years. Providing a thorough overview of this area of entrepreneurial activity, Fini presented the TASTE project (Taking Stock: External engagement by academics), which aims at systematically mapping entrepreneurship from Italian university labs, providing reliable data to better understand the determinants of their high growth, and key success formulas. As the principal investigator of this project, Riccardo Fini has studied, using a multileveled-structured database, the performance levels, patenting activities and strategies that have shaped the academic entrepreneurship environment in Italy throughout the years. For this work to stay relevant, however, it is important to “keep it alive, and updated,” stated Fini, who recently shared all the information collected in the scope of the project with the Italian Government.

His research is mostly focused on the individual-level determinants of entrepreneurship, aiming at contributing to the theoretical debate on the foundation of entrepreneurial activities. The data and the analysis that Riccardo Fini brought to the audience’s attention were important contributions to help understand the importance of monitoring successes and failures, and understanding the key ingredients for longevity, in new, maturing, and established companies of academic origins, something that seems to be missing in the Portuguese entrepreneurial environment, as discussed with the audience throughout the talk.

Analogous efforts are being thought out for Portugal. The challenges are well identified, and “these are the facts and figures that Portugal needs to obtain from a similar initiative,” emphasized José Manuel Mendonça, Scientific Director of UTEN Portugal. The synergies and collaborations that arise from the international partnerships with American universities can be an important leverage for a detailed and wide analysis, and this is where the UTEN Portugal Program plays a key role, with its broad network of Technology Transfer Offices, Laboratories, and Incubators. According to Jorge Farinha, the vice-president of Porto Business School, who is “proud to host these joint events,” networking moments, as well as presenting studies that can add value to Portugal, are important for the progress of the academic environment, and to keep the dialogue flowing.

This was UTEN’s first talk for 2015, in the hopes that this will be a year of collaborations, joint endeavors and international partnerships.

Riccardo Fini talk

José Manuel Mendonça at Riccardo Fini talk

audience at Riccardo Fini talk

Texas-Portugal Venture Growth Workshop, April 23

On Thursday, April 23, 2015 the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin will present a networking and matchmaking workshop among firms and technology incubators in Central Texas and the European Union, especially Portugal.

On Thursday, April 23, 2015 the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin will present a networking and matchmaking workshop among firms and technology incubators in Central Texas and the European Union, especially Portugal.

Co-sponsored with The University of Texas at Austin’s EU Center for Excellence, the workshop follows the 2015 TX-EU Summit on April 22 and is designed to deliver measurable business development for Central Texas and Portuguese technology firms through a one-day workshop.

What: Texas-Portugal Venture Growth Workshop
Date: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Time: 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Location: AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, UT Austin
Cost: Free and open to the public. Registration required.

Participants, including Central Texas and Portuguese tech incubator directors and their incubated companies, as well as venture capital experts, will learn about opportunities and best practices for launching or co-locating firms in the EU and in Central Texas.

For registration and full event details, please see the IC² Institute announcement.

Riccardo Fini to speak on academic entrepreneurship, February 18

Riccardo Fini of the University of Bologna will speak on Wednesday, February 18 on the topic, “Fifteen Years of Academic Entrepreneurship in Italy – Evidence from the Taste Project”.

On Wednesday, February 18, Riccardo Fini of the University of Bologna will speak at Porto Business School on the topic, “Fifteen Years of Academic Entrepreneurship in Italy – Evidence from the Taste Project”.


Over the last 20 years, the processes of knowledge transfer and commercialization of academic research through the creation of new research-based ventures (i.e., academic spin-offs) have gained momentum in Italy. The relevance of this phenomenon to policymakers and managers motivates the research efforts undertaken by the TASTE project, which systematically collects and analyzes multilevel, longitudinal data on the population of 95 Italian universities and their personnel, departments, patenting, entrepreneurial support, and spin-out activities. This talk will focus on the 1,010 companies that have spun off from Italian universities, analyzing their main characteristics, shareholding and founding teams, innovation and growth strategies, internationalization behaviors, and performances.

For more information on Project TASTE, see:

When: 18:00 to 19:30 on Wednesday, February 18

Where: Porto Business School


About the speaker: Prof. Riccardo Fini

Riccardo FiniRiccardo Fini is Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and CIG Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Bologna (UNIBO). He’s also a Research Fellow at Imperial College Business School London, and Associate Dean and Director of the Master in Entrepreneurship at the University of Bologna Business School.

Before joining UNIBO, he researched at Ecole des Mines de Paris (2007), Case Western Reserve University Cleveland (2007-2009) and the University of Bozen (2009-2010). He was also IEF Marie Curie Research Fellow at Imperial College (2010-2011) and Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UNIBO (2011-2014). His research focuses on the individual-level determinants of entrepreneurship. His overall objective is to contribute to the theoretical debate on the foundation of entrepreneurial activities, explaining heterogeneity and deviance in their enactment. He’s now serving as principal investigator for the TASTE project, focused on technology-transfer activities by Italian academics. His research was published in Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Economic Growth, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Minerva, Research Policy and Journal of Technology Transfer.

He was invited to contribute to the University of Chicago Handbook on Technology Transfer and the Palgrave MacMillan Encyclopedia of Strategic Management. As a PI, he has been awarded more than € 300.000 of research funds, and he now coordinates two research teams at the University of Bologna and at Imperial College Business School London. He was recently featured in Nature, Times Higher Education and The New York Times.

Global Startup Program success story: Abyssal

Global Startup Program expands opportunities for 2013-2014 participant Abyssal

Abyssal logo

Abyssal ( develops integrated Subsea Navigation Solutions for Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). The company’s software, Abyssal OS, was developed after years of working with ROV pilots, subsea contractors, and oil & gas companies. Abyssal OS features advanced 3D technology, augmented reality, and precise navigation. These features allow it to operate safely in the world’s harshest aquatic environments, at depths up to 6,000 meters, or about 4 miles, while superior visualization for the ROV pilot helps reduce “down time” (time underwater), and thus decrease operational expenses. Headquartered in Matosinhos, Portugal, the company is led by Manuel Parente and Rafael Simão.

In February this year, Abyssal entrepreneurs Manuel Parente and Rafael Simão made an accelerated tour of the US oil and gas industry – landing in New Orleans and proceeding through Houston and finishing in Austin. It wasn’t their first attempt at promoting Abyssal in the United States. “A year ago we visited these same places and tried to break into this market on our own, without success,” admits Parente.

“Interest would be expressed when we were in a meeting, but nothing would happen after that,” adds Simão.

While they hoped the UTEN program with the IC² Institute would prove helpful to entering the US market, their expectations had to be re-scaled. Max Green was UTEN mentor for the Abyssal team. “We had four meetings that first day in New Orleans,” he describes, “and at the end of the day I said: Guys, let’s talk.” That first-day discussion transformed the Abyssal business model from one pursuing a $500 million total addressable market, to a potential market of $850 million annually. This market potential could be shifted by making two strategic changes: 1) moving from a purchase-based model to a rental & service-based model (preferred by the oil and gas industry); and 2) by identifying a new performance level to their product offering (also preferred by the market) to enable realtime onshore monitoring of ROV data, in addition to their current offering of two product levels: one to serve the pilot and another to serve the client.

“When we started the UTEN program we expected the IC² Institute team to be hands on, but didn’t expect to get the results we have so quickly… We now have three potential partnerships to consider. Our expectations have been surpassed by a thousand fold.”

– Margaret Cotrofeld, IC² Institute

Abyssal OS display
Learn more about the Abyssal Operating System for ROVs

Portugal Ventures collaborates with Global Startup Program

Portugal VenturesPortugal Ventures, a leading Portuguese VC firm, is collaborating with UTEN to help select companies reach global markets through the IC² Institute’s Global Startup Program.

An announcement on the Portugal Ventures website says:

Portugal Ventures has teamed up with the Portuguese Foundation For Science and Technology (FCT) to promote the international acceleration of its portfolio companies in Austin, Texas… Portugal Ventures and the Global Startup Program are operating as a cross-functional team to actively develop and expand international revenue opportunities for select companies.

Administered by the IC² Institute at UT Austin, the Global Startup Program offers a year-long business development and incubation program to assist companies in realizing their international potential more rapidly and economically. Using Austin, Texas, as their launch-pad to the United States and the world, companies selected for the program will receive support from dedicated business development specialists and access to a seasoned advisory team.

The collaboration with the Global Startup Program is aligned with Portugal Ventures’ Acceleration and Innovation Hubs in the World program, which already operates two centers in San Francisco and Boston to help Portuguese companies connect with North American capital and markets.

The Global Startup Program is accepting applications from Portuguese companies through June 30. For complete information see the Global Startup Program call on the UTEN website.

UTEN announces Global Startup Program 2014 Call

UPDATE: The call deadline has been extended through
Monday, July 14.

The University Technology Enterprise Network (UTEN) has announced the 2014 call for applications to its Global Startup Program.

The Global Startup Program began in 2013 with the mission to provide business development, soft-landing, incubation, and acceleration opportunities to Portuguese technology-based companies. Companies participating in the 2013 program are Abyssal, Auditmark, Celfinet, Omniflow, and Tuizzi.

The 2014 call is open to companies in all technology sectors with ambitions to reach US and world markets. Assistance is tailored to both early-stage and mature ventures and provided through the IC² Institute of the University of Texas at Austin.

Applications will be accepted June 1-30 June 1 – July 14, 2014.

For details please see the Global Startup Program 2014 Call or contact

Digital Media Entrepreneurial Boot Camp, June 5-6, 2014

The UT Austin|Portugal Digital Media Program will offer a free, intensive entrepreneurial boot camp in Lisbon on June 5-6, 2014. Approximately 15-20 participants working in teams of 2-6 people will spend one and a half days bringing products through the stages of ideation, design, prototyping, and pitching. The program will be led by two accomplished entrepreneurs from the Austin and San Francisco start-up scenes, both with extensive experience in diverse aspects of digital media. Guests from the local entrepreneurial community in Lisbon will join them.

The deadline to apply is May 20, 2014. For complete information, see the UT Austin|Portugal website.

CMU|Portugal announces inRes acceleration program

inRes 2014: Very Early Stage Acceleration Program

The CMU Portugal Program welcomes applications for the 2014 Edition of inRes, short for “in Residence,” a very early stage acceleration program for entrepreneurial teams working in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), in Portugal.

CMU|Portugal logoinRes will provide entrepreneurial teams a training period in Portugal, followed by a six-week structured immersion period in Pittsburgh, in the U.S., anchored at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The participating teams will benefit from the exposure to a highly dense environment of world-leading research groups, and market and industry specialists, in a variety of high-tech areas.

The program is targeted to entrepreneurial teams that:

  • want to start a company and commercialize a technology;
  • have proven technical feasibility of their product or service;
  • have had enough initial interaction with their target markets and industries, to show minimally consistent product or service and business concepts;
  • and are not yet established companies regularly selling their products/services.

Applications for the inRes 2014 Call will be open until April 30, 2014.

Information sessions will be held April 2 (Coimbra and Porto) and April 3 (Lisbon). Register now.

inRes will be very intense and challenging, and will require a strong commitment from the teams. It will push them past their comfort zones, and require them to work at a steep pace, cope with high levels of uncertainty, and constantly reach out for contacts to further build and validate their business projects.

For more information, see the Carnegie Mellon Portugal inRes site.

Global Startup Roadshow, March 2014

March 10-18, 2014, members of the UTEN team will visit multiple incubators across Portugal to publicize the next call for applications to the Global Startup Program.

Marco Bravo and Greg Pogue of the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin will meet with dozens of startups that are interested in expanding to international markets and growing their business in the United States.

Stops on the tour will include Lisbon, Coimbra, Cantanhede, Aveiro, Porto, and Guimarães.

Global Startup began in 2013 to provide business development, soft-landing, incubation, business development, and acceleration opportunities for Portuguese technology-based companies. Its purpose is to assist the success of Portuguese entrepreneurial endeavors in both early and mature phases of development.

For more information, please contact Marco Bravo at or +1 512-475-8953.


► Read Success Stories from previous UTEN programs.

TA_101 antibody fragment structure

Call for papers: Multidisciplinary Approaches on Innovation

Workshop and online journal to launch September 3, 2013, at the University of Porto, Portugal.

On September 3, 2013, the University of Porto will host an international workshop entitled “Multidisciplinary Approaches on Innovation” to mark the launch of a new online journal.

From the call for papers:

“Innovation is a laboratory for applied creativity where development of innovative projects and exploration of new directions in different disciplines are dynamically perceived. Innovation enables a more conscious perception of place and its characteristics; it is an experimental space in which design methods can be used to examine and interrogate ideas, forms, structures, dreams and visions. Innovation is about transgressing boundaries of multiple disciplines in view of developing novelties or improving existing offerings, methods and processes while taking into account numerous dimensions and angles. It is also about opening new perspectives on the world of tomorrow. Innovation is also a state of mind, which has to be nurtured and cultivated. The currently turbulent environment renders innovation even more challenging, yet necessary, to reach the competitive edge and maintain sustainable advantage. The successful ability to innovate requires a multidisciplinary attitude towards understanding, designing and implementing an overarching innovation strategy.”

Abstracts for the workshop are due on May 1, 2013.

For complete information on the workshop and the new journal, please see: