Sonae IM, the division of Portuguese conglomerate Sonae with stakes in several telecoms-oriented cybersecurity and software businesses, including RAFM market leader WeDo, has entered into a partnership with the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) that will see academics collaborating on research to address real-world business challenges. The venture, entitled ‘Sonae IM Lab @ FEUP’ will fund and oversee the work of researchers studying for doctorates and master’s degrees. Sonae IM’s press release promises that:
Selected students will be able to develop their projects with guaranteed scholarships, seizing the opportunity to collaborate directly with the company and make use of its training, technical and human resources, access to funding to present results nationally and internationally, among other benefits.
Eduardo Piedade, CEO of Sonae IM, said that:
…setting up this lab… will strengthen Sonae IM strategy of investing in innovative businesses and technologies at a global scale. This partnership, which we predict to be extremely fruitful, fills us with great pride, not only because it will provide opportunities to co-create highly valuable knowledge in the corporate world, but also because of its contribution for the qualification of future expert professionals in the sector.
FEUP is the largest faculty at the University of Porto (UPORTO) with 600 teachers and researchers educating almost 8,000 students across 63 courses.
Sonae IM describe themselves as ‘strategists and investors’ focused on tech companies working in the retail and telecommunications sectors. WeDo represents approximately half of the revenues generated by Sonae IM, which also holds minority stakes in a range of smaller cybersecurity-oriented firms. They have likely calculated that a collective investment in research will generate better returns than if each business they own engaged in separate collaborations with academia. Anyone with a knowledge of the projects undertaken by the FEUP researchers will hence obtain a good insight into Sonae IM’s predicted drivers of growth.
The importance of research and development to the direction of Sonae Group is perhaps underlined by the presence of Claudia Azevedo, Sonae Group CEO, sitting in the front row of the small launch party (photographed above).
A short video about the collaboration (in Portuguese, with English subtitles) can be seen below.