This July the European Innovation Academy is holding its second summer program in Cascais, the Portuguese Riviera. University of Porto is sending 30 of their brightest students to innovate along 400 other participants from across the world. We sat down with Professor Carlos Brito from U.Porto to learn more about the university and take a peek into the future of education.

Professor Carlos Brito
Professor Carlos Brito – Pro-Rector of the University of Porto for innovation and entrepreneurship, Chairman of NET – New Ventures and Technologies, Vice-President of the Portuguese Management Association, and Knight of the Port Wine Brotherhood. A professor of marketing at the University of Porto and author of more than one hundred papers in conferences and journals, as well as of six books on marketing. “I am an intrapreneur who believes that the future of organisations and societies depends on the capacity to find innovative solutions for both planned and unexpected challenges.” 💫

Housing companies such as Farfetch, Blip, Mindera, AdClick, Yieldify and Byside, the city of Porto has turned into a booming start-up scene providing infrastructure and access to talent and funding for fast growing companies. We asked Prof Brito for a comment about the success of Porto. 

Looking for unexplored businesses is very important, so entrepreneurs need to be watchful to new opportunities. Sometimes the innovative character of a business is simply the result of joining two existing businesses and developing a new joint offer. A great example is the city of Porto and the surrounding area – it’s a blue ocean for entrepreneurship and more than 30% of Portuguese start-ups are created in this region. Joining the U.Porto, the best Portuguese university for innovation, with public institutions and an entrepreneurial business culture gave rise to a vibrant innovation ecosystem with a high growth potential.

Meeting up with a person who has been called the Portuguese Pioneer of Marketing led us to a longer discussion about marketing and branding with Prof Brito. Here are some of the highlights: 

Marketing helps companies to sell and create value by attracting and retaining customers in a mutually beneficial way. This means that we can use marketing in our daily life by developing a personal brand and managing it using marketing concepts such as segmentation and positioning and the marketing mix tools  – What are my skills? How do I promote myself? How do I distribute my work? What is my price?.

For entrepreneurs personal branding is a critical success factor since when launching a new venture, quite often based on technologies that have never been tested before, trust is a paramount. You need that both potential customers and investors trust on your project, and quite often this trust is based on the personal brand of the entrepreneur. This must be developed on the basis of three elements: awareness, image and engagement.

  1. An entrepreneur needs to be known. This requires communication skills: relational and networking competencies, effective social media impact, presence in scientific and business forums.
  2. The entrepreneur needs to develop his/her reputation. This means that you need to develop your personal value proposition: what are your distinctive and unique characteristics in terms of technical and managerial skills, resilience, creativity and so forth?
  3. The entrepreneur has to develop a strategy aimed at engaging other people in their project. Potential partners, staff members, customers and investors. This engagement has two sides: functional and emotional. The former relies on hard skills while emotional engagement is mainly fostered by soft skills. You have to work both!

Please describe one failure that has in the end been very beneficial for you.

I will answer your question borrowing an idea from Miguel de Unamuno, the great Spanish Basque intellectual. There are two types of people: those who are more sons of their past than parents of their future; and those who are more parents of the future than sons of the past. My positioning is being more father than son.

In your opinion how will technology and robotics influence the future of education?

This is probably the most important challenge education faces today. The digital revolution impacts on education because the expectations of the “customers” (i.e., the students, especially the youngest) are totally different now. The way they access to information, the way they learn and the relevance they give to formal education has changed dramatically. This means that the contents and methodologies of the programmes need to adapt to these new challenges brought by the digitalization of society. In this context, the development of human skills is critical – of course, side by side with tech and digital skills. In fact, when we foresee the impact of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, the key feature that distinguishes us from machines – that, in most cases, will substitute our jobs – is our human nature. This means that in the future we need more digital skills but also to develop our human skills (those that a machine cannot learn): creativity, emotional intelligence, motivation, loyalty, transparency, leadership, ethics, sense of justice…

Please recommend books/podcasts to future entrepreneurs: