Francisco Veloso said: “We Want to Educate Agents of Change”

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Francisco Veloso is the new Dean of the Catolica-Lisbon School of Business & Economics. Veloso is one of the scientific directors of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), and a member of the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Veloso was recently interviewed by a Portuguese journalist from the economic newspaper Diário Económico (pdf) about his strategy for the Catolica-Lisbon School of Business & Economics, his overview of the Portuguese academia and also about Portugal’s economy. Bellow we give you an idea about the key messages left by Francisco Veloso in this interview.

His goals for Catolica-Lisbon are to consolidate the institution internationalization and to produce more entrepreneurial students. Catolica-Lisbon is a triple-crown accredited institution (EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB), which is also part of the top 35 Business Schools according to the Financial Times rankings. It has “faculty from 10 different nationalities, and 30 per cent of the master students are foreigners,” reveals Francisco Veloso.

An expert in innovation and entrepreneurship, Francisco Veloso feels that it is important to support the creation of new companies, and it is crucial to mobilize the students to add value to the companies through the launching of new initiatives within them. Therefore, “at Catolica-Lisbon this is carried out by giving more opportunities to the students to put in practice entrepreneurship ideas during their studies,” explains Francisco Veloso adding “we already had the 24 Hours of Entrepreneurship, and this year we are promoting a Summer of Start Ups.” Veloso emphasizes that entrepreneurship is a very important area for Catolica-Lisbon, with six professors from four different countries teaching and doing research in this area.

Veloso supports the idea that the Portuguese universities should be more competitive, and find ways to encourage the researchers to mobilize more private and public competitive funds for their institution beyond the State support. Catolica-Lisbon School, for example, is a private institution that does not receive any direct support from the State.

Questioned about endogamy in Portuguese academia, Francisco Veloso answered that this is a problem because it limits the intellectual diversity of the institutions. He feels that the government should limit to 10 per cent the possibility of universities to hire their own doctorates, say for a period of 10 to 15 years. Afterwards, “when the system is mature enough this limit could even disappear,” he says.

Worried about the economic crisis that the country is facing, Veloso tries to contribute in finding ways to strengthen the country. He has been a member of the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship where, together with others, he has been working on proposals for new initiatives and policies to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Portugal.

Veloso considers himself an optimistic person, that’s why he left the US and came to Portugal to embrace the opportunity to become the Dean of the Catolica-Lisbon School. “We have a wonderful country, with fantastic people,” he says. Therefore, “it is crucial to put the country finances in order, because the country has a promising future with the opportunity to launch technology startups”. He leaves one idea to foster the development of technology-based companies: “to provide a grace period for payment of taxes.”

July 2012