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Technological Incubator for Popular Cooperatives (ITCP)

Author: Technological Incubator for Popular Cooperatives (ITCP)
Published Date: 12 March 2013

Background

The Technological Incubator for Popular Cooperatives (ITCP) was established at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1996 by Engineering Post-Graduate and Research Coordination with the mission of “fostering innovative action to promote economic inclusion and citizenship among the poorer segments of the population” [1]. It aspired to transfer the knowledge accumulated in the university to the socially and economically excluded segments of the society and hoped it would help them be a part of the formal economy.

It was established in response to growing unemployment in Brazil. ITCP, since its inception, has been working on market inclusion focusing on individuals and businesses that were never part of the formal economy and those who are gradually being marginalised. In addition, ITCP also helps in establishing workers’ cooperatives by providing required help and advice to the members of economically marginalised segments of the population so that they can enter the formal labour market. It also promotes popular organisations “to create network of solidarity generating work, income and citizenship through communal self-reliant enterprises, which in turn broaden the rights of those workers involved” [1].

The teams at ITCP are multidisciplinary, including professionals and technicians with varied background and knowledge, researchers and professors from various University, as well as graduate and post-graduate students.

Immediate and Broader Implications

With the help of ITCP, previously unskilled workers have been quick to find jobs and organisations have been able to receive better technology, advice and network of other companies to directly or indirectly learn from and do business with. Since its inception in 1996, ITCP has contributed directly to creating more than 1,200 new livelihoods and jobs in Rio de Janeiro [2].

The potential of ITCP was quickly recognised and it earned awards both domestically and internationally, including from the World Bank, for attempting to fight poverty. In addition to helping people find ways out of poverty, it has also given voices to these people by helping put forward new public policies and workers’ rights.

The ITCP model has been very popular, which has since been expanded to and supported at a national level, and are now part of many federal universities. In 1998, in collaboration between several institutions including FINEP, a government financing entity, Banco do Brasil, Banco do Brasil Foundation and the technological incubator at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University founded National Program of Incubators of Popular Cooperatives (“PRONINC”) (FINEP, 2012)[3].

In 1999, these incubators established the University ITCP Network in collaboration with Unitrabalho Foundation, which continues to bring new universities into the Network and currently there are 16 Brazilian universities from 10 different states [1].

Conclusion

Initiatives like ITCP shows how the vast knowledge of science, technology and innovation that are confined within the walls of higher institutions can be more closely linked to the challenges of poverty alleviation and social justice. It illustrates that marginalized communities could be the central focus of problem solving and the science and technological know-how can be utilised to seek the solutions.

Additionally, ITCP has acted as a conduit to these voiceless people by putting forward new public policies in front of the government on their behalf. This has further empowered these people by not only giving them chance to participate in the formal market place, but also given them voice in front of their government.

[1]The Technological Incubator for Popular Cooperatives (ITCP), 2012.http://www.itcp.coppe.ufrj.br/ingles.php. [ Accessed: July 23, 2012]

[2] Infodev, 2012.Technological Incubator of Popular Cooperatives of the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro ITCP (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil). [Online] Available at: http://www.infodev.org/en/Publisation.469.html. [Accessed: August, 20

[3] Financiadora De Estudos E Projectos (FINEP), 2012.Pronic. [online] Available at: http://www.finep.gov.br/pagina.asp?pag=25.70 [Accessed: August 20, 2012].