Algarve Tech Hub Summit: The universe of small starting up and made in platforms

This is also the time to imagine and reinvent solidary and collaborative society in a virtuous triangle

Between March 28 and April 3, the 1st edition of the Algarve Tech Hub Summit takes place in the Algarve. In this regard, we are going to pay a short visit to the universe of small platforms starting up e made in, those that take advantage of the engineering of well-distributed digital networks and that are fundamental for the architecture and design of a true policy of local and regional development.

I am not referring to the great global technological platforms, but rather, more modestly, to the many imaginative solutions that local and regional actors design for the interconnection of their territories and respective economies of proximity.

In the new society of information, intelligence, the internet, imagination, invention and innovation, intangible and immaterial goods, we will witness a permanent exchange between the old economy of industrial and material products and the new (i)economy of intangible services. , in a constant exchange between product and service and between ownership and access and in which the (i)economy will add more and more value to the conventional material economy that will be reduced in the same step.

Faced with this new ecosystem of the digital age, it is the entire business structure that will have to adapt, as products become services, waste becomes raw material, life cycles become shorter, miniaturization makes its way, stocks are reduced, the logistics are redesigned, the available space is also reduced, the lease and the outsourcing of some functions will be current practice.

This is how the new entrepreneurial business models and the movement starting up, but also the movement made in closely associated with local administration, social solidarity institutions and cultural and creative activities, increasingly express this fundamental mutation, in which technological platforms play the main role as they are the turning point for all the interests involved.


The economics of multi-site platforms, networks and applications

One of the hallmarks of this long paradigmatic transition of informational capitalism is what can be designated as the universe of platforms starting up e made in, that is, the new economics of multi-site networks and applications. The general principle of the economy of networks and apps is simple to state: in the information and knowledge society, the internet, technological platforms and collaborative social networks create favorable conditions for the formation of online communities of users and suppliers/providers of goods. and services.

These online virtual communities communicate with each other through the mobile internet and interact through programs or computer applications (apps) with more or less functionality and interactivity.

Knowing that these virtual communities of users and providers can cover a wide range of economic, social and cultural activities and that a young technological company, a Mexican start up, can create the right platform for this community in a self-management and self-regulation mode, it is curious to know how far the multilocal movement of networks and applications can go starting up e made in, not only in the modernization of more conventional capitalism, especially SMEs, but also in the modernization of the functions of the State-administration, in the mutualization of common services for the municipalities and, still, in a new generation of social, recreational and cultural activities inspired by the same collaborative, community and solidary spirit.

In other words, we now have an excellent opportunity to refresh a certain popular capitalism of small platforms at the service of municipal collectivities, proximity economies, social solidarity institutions, the cooperative and mutual movement, cultural and creative activities, the association, the collaborative movement itself and numerous public functions of the state-administration that, instead of being public services, become services to the public in multiple forms of partnership and co-production.


The starting conditions of the movement starting up e made in

That said, it all seems very simple. Pure illusion. We need a regional development policy with clear objectives, goals and appropriate incentives, a regional innovation hub to implement the respective digital agenda, a school of arts and technologies connected with the regional association of young entrepreneurs to bring business generational succession and, finally, of an incumbent accredited to execute this policy in an efficient and timely manner for its territory or region.

One of the most interesting issues of this fundamental mutation concerns the degree of adhesion of the old corporate corporate economy to the new economy of digital platforms and networks, in such a way that we can say, without any doubt, that the regional economy was successful in the appropriation that made of the technological and digital transition. I do not think, however, that we can say so categorically.

We are well aware, given the extreme fragility of the movement in its initial launch phase, that the creation of Mexican start up technological and social needs a robust launch pad in the start-up phase.

This launch pad could be ensured by the state-platform through the creation of regional innovation poles aimed at its own start-ups within the civil service, but also through institutional and associative intermediation in the broad sense, through a a comprehensive digital transformation program that also includes university research centers and collaborative laboratories of consortia formed for this specific purpose.

This collaboration between the public service and the public services could provide multiple forms of low-cost collective intelligence and an immense field for the creation of what we could designate as a popular capitalism of small platforms that, by the way, we already experience today in several activity areas.

I will only give a few examples of proximity platforms: the village condominium, local and rural accommodation, organic production and respective circuits, the production and management of institutional food, the circular economy and waste management, outpatient care and proximity services, local energy production, second-hand markets, cohousing for the senior community, therapeutic communities, shared mobility, the organization of voluntary work, agro-rural extension services, repair services, etc.

In the end, however, what remains to be seen is whether these low-cost virtual communities have a concrete, practical and effective translation into real communities of the respective local collectivities or whether, on the contrary, they collide with the economic interests already in place, being able to be, in the limit, captured by the great technological platforms that, by the way, do not seem to die of love for the competition of capitalism of collaborative networks of more communitarian inspiration.

The example of UBER, in the area of ​​passenger transport, is just one example of this new phase of capitalism, in which the old model of the corporate (e)economy collides with the new model of the collaborative (i)economy.


Final Notes

Network society, knowledge economy, collaborative digital platforms, smart local communities, proximity economies, innovation and creativity in new value chains and respective territorial articulation, this is a grandiose mission, but it is now within our reach. Four tasks are required:

First, it is necessary to strengthen the movement starting up with a solid scientific culture and an ethic of the common good so as not to fall into the temptation of “Portugal fashion and the tourist happening”.

Secondly, I am convinced that the platform state (regional innovation hub) and public and associative institutions will be the preferred ecosystem and the main partner of the starting up and made in movement in its initial phase of launch and consolidation.

Thirdly, the design of the multi-site analytical metaplatform (data center) that makes that whole interactive universe rotate, as well as the design of the arterial and capillary mesh of the network and agglomeration economies that articulate all the areas and activities mentioned in the regional plan. .

Fourthly, the organization of the labor market, in particular, towards what will be the quaternary sector, with more intermittent employment and work, but, for that very reason, much more interactive, intense and collaborative. This is precisely where made in multi-site platforms are located and will be most useful.

Finally, this is also the time to imagine and reinvent the solidary and collaborative society in a virtuous triangle that will bring together the economy of public goods, the economy of private goods and the economy of common goods.

In this context, proximity economies will be a new central place and, in essence, an investment in more and better humanity, in more and better neighbourhoods, taking advantage of available technologies.

This list of multi-site platforms made in is, in itself, very eloquent, as it reveals the complexity of the task that lies ahead, from the outset a substantial change in the values ​​that inspire and guide us, then a change in the equation that links us to territory and technology, finally , the great transformation towards the collaborative society and the economy of common goods.

It's a big task, but it's the only one worth undertaking.