The SME Innovation Award COTEC-BPI annually distinguishes an SME that has stood out on the national scene for its innovative attitude and activity.
Meet the companies that have been distinguished with the SME Innovation Award COTEC-BPI over the past years.
Winner 2021: ebankIT
ebankIT – an IT sector company – integrates the COTEC Innovation SME Network and is an inspiring example of excellence of the Portuguese business fabric, for its innovation management practices with impact on growth and profitability. Founded in 2006, ebankIT develops an omnichannel platform to support the financial sector, offering a fast, clean, intelligent, and innovative digital banking experience, by producing software to assist banks in the modernization or creation of their digital channels. Currently, with 98.4% exports and with main markets such as Canada, South Africa, Romania, Kuwait, and Uganda, it has a very targeted bet, in the short term, on the North American markets. In parallel to strong growth potential and solid financial results, ebankIT invests substantially in R&D and Innovation and develops a distinctive culture by investing in Talent, in the training and retention of its highly qualified employees, promoting an internal culture of innovation and proximity between the different hierarchical levels of the organization.
2020 Winner: BERD – Bridge Design, Research, and Engineering
BERD – One Bridge One Solution is in the TOP 3 World Leaders in the area of Methods and Solutions for Bridge Construction. Founded in 2006, a spin-off of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, it has so far participated in the construction of more than 20 bridges and viaducts on 5 continents. In 2016 it launched a new Business Unit, Modular Bridge Solutions, whose first contract consisted of the supply of more than 150 modular bridges for the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Peru.
Winner 2019: Inovafil Fiação, SA
Created in 2011, the company has a set of shareholders with strong interests in the textile area, who contribute knowledge and facilitate, with their experience, the entry into the market in which it is positioned. With facilities in Guimarães and Vila Nova de Famalicão, INOVAFIL is a textile company dedicated to the production of highly differentiated yarns, both for the fashion market and the technical textiles market. The strategic focus on flexibility and total quality has led INOVAFIL to control production processes through an internal laboratory that operates 24/24h and to reconfigure the workforce for production by lot, on demand.
The company has created an innovation department for the creation of special yarns aimed at new applications in areas such as health, military, or sports, and has strong links with the academic world, in particular the University of Minho and the Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory. The production of “intelligent yarns” – functional, technical, and performance textile yarns – also involves efforts in the production of recycled and ecological yarns, as well as R&D activities in cellulosic fibers and genetic analyses for the responsible sourcing of cotton.
With a production capacity of 160 tonnes of yarn per month, it exports to more than 20 countries, with a focus on France, Spain, and the United States of America. The company recorded a turnover in 2018 of close to 22 million euros, 41% of which resulted from exports.
Winner 2018: JPM – Automação e Equipamentos Industriais, SA
JPM was founded in 1994, in Vale de Cambra, by José Paulo Martins da Silva, initially providing electricity and automation services for industry.
In 2009, JPM had an important milestone that would shape the future of its value proposition to the market, the creation of JPM Group. This foundation had an important mission and objective, the professionalisation of the company’s management, the expansion and verticalisation of the areas of knowledge in individual companies. This group would become JPM Renováveis – with the mission of offering sustainable and renewable energy solutions for industries – and, later, Jointsteel (joint venture with the Belgian company Timmerman EHS), with the mission of manufacturing stainless steel equipment and process solutions.
From its know-how based on industrial conveyors, automation and palletising, today JPM is a world player in the intralogistics market, a factory of factories. With over 500km of conveyors installed, over 2,000 installations made worldwide, JPM is present in over 40 geographies.
The company recorded in 2017 a turnover close to 12 million euros, 40% of which resulting from export
Winner 2017: Introsys – Integration for Robotic Systems, Integração de Sistemas Robóticos, SA
Operating in the international market since 2004, INTROSYS has become a reference in the area of robotic control systems, being responsible for the design of software for robots and industrial armed arms, with special focus on the Automotive and Aeronautical Industry. Currently, in addition to the products it develops, both in the area of mobile robotics and automation, the company also already offers training for the automotive industry, being present in countries like India, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Russia, among others.
The company recorded a turnover in 2016 close to 17 million euros, 84% of which resulted from exports. The company also has a unit in Mexico which is responsible for a turnover close to 3 million euros.
Winner ex-aequo 2016 : ERT Têxtil Portugal, SA
ERT Têxtil Portugal, SA is located in São João da Madeira, where it has been operating since 1992, manufacturing technical textiles. In the late 90’s the company took advantage of the opportunities then created for the development of the automobile industry in Portugal and in 2000 started supplying this sector. The administration modernized the company, making it grow and specialize and currently its products are applied, mainly, in the automotive sector (85%) – where it is the leader in the national market – in fashion and sports products (10%) and in components for boats and trains (5%).
In 2006 ERT began its internationalisation process, for which it established a national capital joint-venture with Coindu, giving rise to the constitution of ERT Group Automotive. This process allowed operations in Eastern Europe to be extended, closer to clients, while maintaining the centralisation of management functions in Portugal. In 2013 ERT became a shareholder of Plus Felt S.L., a Spanish company specialising in the production and marketing of acoustic insulation for motor vehicles and also acquired the entire share capital of the company Reiner Interieur S.R.O., in the Czech Republic, constituting ERT Automotive Bohemia. In 2014 ERT launched a Creative Innovation Centre that defines the strategic lines of research, development and innovation. From this Centre projects as distinct as the incorporation of lighting systems and innovative heating systems in textiles and flexible materials are developed, but work is also done on the development of human-machine interface projects for driving assistance. ERT Têxtil Portugal, SA is today represented in eight European countries and achieved more than 35 million euros in turnover in Portugal alone in 2015.
Winner ex-aequo 2016: i2S – Informática, Sistemas e Serviços, SA
i2S is exclusively dedicated to the development of software and the provision of support services for insurance activity. Founded in 1984 and currently, with approximately 250 employees and a turnover of around 15 million euros, i2S has its headquarters in Porto and offices in Lisbon, Madrid, Luanda, Maputo, and S. Paulo. From these locations, it supports more than 50 insurance companies and pension fund management companies, and more than 150 insurance brokers. Being a market leader in Portugal and Angola, i2S also has clients in Spain, France, Mozambique, Poland, and Cape Verde.
To support its growth strategy i2S has signed strategic partnerships with technological partners (Oracle, Microsoft, IBM), universities (UMinho, Porto), and integrators (Everis, PWC) among several others. Reference analysts like Gartner and Celent refer to i2S as a leading software vendor in the Niche Player quadrant regarding the ability to perform GIS solutions in the Magic Quadrant for Life Insurance Policy Administration Systems, Europe (Gartner) and that continues to consolidate its presence in the countries it chose as target (Celent).
Winner ex-aequo 2015: Palbit, SA
Palbit, SA was founded in 2004, but its origins date back to 1916, to secure the concession for the exploitation of the Palhal galena mines. Over time, the mining operation was extinguished and the company ceased its mining activity. In 1941, having a concession for the production of electricity, it was acquired by the SAPEC Group and, in 1952, it started producing parts and cutting tools using tungsten carbide. Today, Palbit has 93% of its capital in Portuguese shareholders and a Swedish shareholder with 7%, and its business is the development, production, and marketing of high-performance industrial tools made of hard metal, ultra-hard materials, and steel.
Palbit, SA operates in three business areas – cutting tools, anti-wear tools, and tools for quarries – and is present in 5 continents, with more than 80% exports to more than 50 different countries, mainly in the European market. The production of cutting tools generates 80% of the business volume, serving the automotive, energy, aerospace, and general engineering sectors.
Palbit, SA owns the capital of the trading company PALBIT – Comércio de Ferramentas, Lda (subsidiary in Brazil) and the trading company PALBIT MX, SA (Mexico).
In 2014, it recorded a consolidated turnover of 11.9 million euros.
Winner ex-aequo 2015: TEKEVER – Tecnologias da Informação, SA
The Group was founded in 2001 by computer science and computing engineers from Instituto Superior Técnico, developing its platform that integrates mobility and artificial intelligence technologies for workflow management. The Group’s activities are organized in two main areas – Information Technologies and Aerospace, Defence, and Security.
Tekever is responsible for the development of EDP’s mobile system, the third largest in Europe, supporting more than 5,000 people daily and integrating the work processes of the company’s back office. In the SME segment, Tekever developed Mobizy, distinguished in the WSA awards – granted by the UN – as the best business app in 2015.
Tekever develops the control systems and manufactures the unmanned aircraft (drones) that will be used in the maritime surveillance of European Union countries in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, as part of a consortium created by the European Maritime Safety Agency and the European Space Agency. It recently presented the Brainflight project, giving an unprecedented public demonstration of a mind-controlled drone.
Tekever is also establishing itself internationally in the space communications sector and the production of nano- and microsatellites.
The company’s main product in the space area is called Gamalink, which is the basis for the company’s participation in missions of the European Space Agency. In the area of nano and microsatellites, the company is finalizing the first satellite entirely made in Portugal. It is called GAMASAT in honor of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator.
The Group is made up of seven companies, with about 120 employees, exporting about 75% of a turnover close to 20 million euros. The company also has subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, and China.
Winner ex-aequo 2014: Celoplás – Plásticos para a Indústria, SA
Created in 1989 in Braga district, Celoplás is dedicated to the design, development and production of moulds and high-precision components by the injection moulding process for the electrical, electronics and automotive industries and, more recently, for the health sector.
With 150 employees, Celoplás produces about 150 million components per year, which makes it the market leader in Portugal in its segment.
In 2013, it invoiced about 23 million euros, and more than 95% of its production is directly and indirectly intended for export to European countries, such as Germany, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Sweden, Bulgaria, as well as other countries, namely; Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, India or China.
Companies such as Tyco, Bosch, Yazaki, Daimler, Denso, Leica, Browning, Ideal Standard, Visteon or Preh use components produced by Celoplás. The whole organisation is developed in accordance with the Quality, Environment and Innovation Management Systems, according to ISO 9001, ISO TS 16949, ISO 14001 and NP 4457 standards.
With strong links to the academic world, especially the Universities of Coimbra (IPN), Porto (DEMEc and INEGI) and Minho, where Celoplás was the founder of the Polymer Engineering Innovation Centre (PIEP), Celoplás continuously invests in RDI projects, particularly in the development, design and manufacture of components at micro-scale (e.g. micro connectors for optical fibres), as well as in the development of devices for medical applications, either as implants or as drug delivery systems, always using polymeric materials.
Winner ex-aequo 2014: Vision-Box® – Soluções de Visão por Computador, SA
Founded in 2001 by researchers from INETI, Vision-Box® is a leading provider of solutions for automated border control and electronic identity management, having implemented over 3000 innovative solutions on 5 continents, and adding 90% of the market share of border automation at the European level and 30% worldwide.
Already 150 countries whose governments, border authorities and airports have entrusted Vision Box® with the security of their people and goods, in three main areas of activity:
Automated Border Control Solutions: Vision-Box® has been collaborating with airports, airlines and border control authorities to improve people identification processes, making them faster, safer and more efficient, through the automated authentication of identification documents and citizen recognition using biometrics (iris, face and/or fingerprints), to promote security, but also people’s experience. Vision-Box® has already installed over 900 solutions in more than 50 international airports, processing 20 million passengers per year.
Identity management solutions: Vision-Box® has developed a global approach to managing the lifecycle of electronic identification documents, which offers Governments full control of the data collection and distribution processes for Citizen Cards, Electronic Passports or any other relevant personal document. The 3000 installed solutions are enabling a better experience for citizens around the world, who can now enjoy faster and more secure processes.
Intelligent solutions for digital video management and security systems management: Vision Box® offers intelligent solutions covering intelligent video surveillance based on biometric identification, access control, and vehicle and object identification, among many others, improving security levels in the public and private sectors.
Headquartered in Lisbon, Vision-Box® is expanding worldwide, with a presence in the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, USA, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Australia.
Winner ex-aequo 2013: Imperial – Produtos Alimentares, SA
Imperial, part of the RAR Group since 1973, is the largest national chocolate manufacturer and the owner of major Portuguese brands in the sector, such as Jubileu, Regina, Pintarolas and Pantagruel. Imperial recently inaugurated a new moulding and chocolate bar and bonbon packaging unit, complemented by a state-of-the-art chocolate paste production line. The company is continually renewing its offer, with new products accounting for more than 20% of turnover. Imperial markets its brands in more than 45 countries on the European, African, American and Asian continents, with turnover in foreign markets accounting for more than 20% of the company’s business. The company works with leading biotechnology schools (Aveiro, Minho, Porto and Porto Catholic Universities), with which it develops new formulas and carries out nutritional assessments of the ingredients used in its chocolates.
Winner ex-aequo 2013: WIT-Software – Consultoria e Software para an Internet Móvel, SA
Created in 2001 as a spin-off of IPN – Instituto Pedro Nunes and the University of Coimbra, WIT-Software develops advanced applications and services in the area of mobile telecommunications. It supplies its products to the largest mobile operator groups in Europe: Vodafone, Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, Orange-France Telecom, Telia Sonera and Telecom Italia. With an average growth rate of 30% per year in recent years and an average EBITDA margin of more than 35%, the company also has customers in the United States and Africa. The company has two further development centres, in Porto and Leiria, offices in Lisbon, and subsidiaries in Reading (UK) and San Jose (USA). With a long relationship and strong links to the academic world, WIT-Software maintains partnership projects in coordination with Portuguese universities – such as the Universities of Aveiro, Coimbra and Lisbon – and international entities such as the Fraunhofer Institute. Over the last decade, the company has channelled 25% of its human resources into R&D activities, a continuous investment that has been crucial for its differentiation strategy through innovation.
Winner 2012: Bluepharma – Indústria Farmacêutica, SA
A pharmaceutical company with Portuguese capital, headquartered in Coimbra, which is dedicated to the research and development, manufacturing and marketing of medicines, which it distributes throughout the world, namely in Europe, the USA, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It started its activity in February 2001, following the acquisition of an industrial unit belonging to the multinational Bayer. With several registered patents, Bluepharma frequently participates in R&D projects with Portuguese universities, and in recent years has promoted the launch of companies that are a direct result of this synergy. It establishes partnerships with local and international research centres and with multinational pharmaceutical companies, carrying out its activity in three distinct areas: 1) production of medicines for itself and third parties; 2) research, development and registration of medicines; and 3) marketing of generic medicines (holding an extensive portfolio of this type of medicine). In 2004, it won the European Regional Innovation Award as the Project of the Year, and in 2009 it obtained FDA certification for the development and production of solid forms, becoming the first Portuguese pharmaceutical company to be able to export them to the North American market.
Winner 2011: Derovo – Derivado de Ovos, SA
A company in the agro-food sector was created in 1994 to guarantee the survival and marketing of the production of 70 poultry farmers in difficulty. Starting from a subsistence condition, it reached the award of best Egg Products company in the World in 2002, among other awards such as the SIAL Innovation Awards. It was by investing heavily in R&D and innovation, one of its main strategic axes, that it rapidly evolved its product offer into new ways of marketing eggs, such as egg spray, pasteurised liquid egg – in whole egg, yolk and egg white versions -, boiled egg, Fullprotein (protein drink made from egg white and fruit), or the most recently launched – in January 2013 – ‘Egg Ready’, packaged instant fried egg. Alongside R&D and innovation, the company favours partnerships as a driver of development, as exemplified by the four-year partnership it established with the University of Minho and the company Valinox under the ‘Egg Ready project. With offices in Portugal and Spain, Derovo exports to some countries including Spain, France, the UK and Germany.
Winner 2010: Polisport Plásticos, SA
In the market since 1982, Polisport is dedicated to the design, development, production and marketing of innovative plastic components for two-wheeled vehicles. In the bicycle sector, Polisport’s main products are accessories such as helmets, mudguards, canisters, protectors and baby carriers, and it is in the latter that it concentrates its largest sales volume, in which it is the European leader. In the motorbike sector, the company produces plastic parts for first equipment and also for the after-market through replacement parts and own-brand parts, and also produces baby car seats. Polisport stands out by exporting to the international market for its quality, know-how, experience and flexibility, producing original plastic components for the biggest European motorbike manufacturers like KTM (Austria), Husqvarna (Italy), Gas Gas (Spain), and Suzuki (Spain), as well as spare parts and accessories for the final customer. Always with the aim of creating innovative products, the Portuguese company systematically cooperates in innovation with external partners in research, development, property registration and product testing/approval, and has also established international cooperation in the marketing and distribution of products.
Winner 2009: WeDo Technologies
WeDo Technologies provides specialist software and consultancy that can analyse vast amounts of an organisation’s data, helping to nullify or minimise business and operational inefficiencies, enabling a significant return on businesses’ investment through revenue protection and cost reduction. Founded in 2001, WeDo Technologies is the world leader in revenue and business assurance, working with some of the world’s leading companies in the retail, energy and financial sectors, as well as 140 telecommunications operators in more than 80 countries, through more than 470 highly skilled professionals of over 20 nationalities. With offices in 12 countries on 5 continents, and revenues of 55.1 million euros in 2012, WeDo’s expertise was initially acquired in the global telecoms market, but over the past few years, it has successfully implemented its solutions in a wide range of industries and markets worldwide, such as utilities, healthcare, financial services, transportation and retail. The company’s know-how is focused on business assurance for Telecom networks, with leadership in the areas of revenue assurance, roaming, commissions and credit & collections solutions. The company offers full lifecycle implementation capabilities so that an organisation’s products or solutions, whether new or existing, are fully integrated into an externally managed service. Its products have been nominated for world-class awards such as the Billing World Excellence Awards for ‘Best New Product’ in 2003 and the World Billing System Awards for ‘Best Revenue Assurance Project’ in 2005 and 2006.
Winner 2008: Critical Software, SA
Critical Software develops innovative and reliable technologies for the support of critical systems, oriented towards the specific needs of its clients, offering a range of services that include software integration, development, validation and verification. These solutions are developed on time, on-budget and on quality, reflecting our commitment to quality and technological innovation as agents for the introduction of competitive advantages in our clients’ information and business systems. Since its creation in 1998, Critical has been able to compete on a global scale, adapting to the most demanding environments and enabling a better understanding of its client’s business needs. The Portuguese and UK Armed Forces, AgustaWestland, EADS and Thales Alenia Space, the North American, European, Chinese and Japanese space agencies, Vodafone, PT or Deutsche Telekom, the Portucel-Soporcel Group, Infineon Technologies or Qimonda, EDP or Enersis, CGD, BES or the Bank of New York, and the Ministry of Justice or Internal Administration are some of those clients. Following a continuous and sustained growth over the years, Critical has about 250 highly qualified employees and headquarters in Coimbra, offices in Lisbon and Porto, and subsidiaries in several countries: Germany, Angola, Brazil, USA, Mozambique, UK and Singapore.
Winner ex-aequo 2007: ALERT Life Sciences Computing, SA
Founded in 1999, ALERT develops clinical software, dedicated to creating an integrated solution for the total computerization of healthcare in entire countries, HMOs, hospitals and primary care centres. Web and cloud-enabled, ALERT® solutions are variants of single product configurations, with only one line of development, characterized by their local configuration capacity in each market. These features enable ALERT to focus its efforts on a universal product that is constantly changing and is enriched by contributions from all over the world. ALERT® is currently the most international clinical solution, having been implemented in 500 healthcare facilities in 13 different countries and used by over 60 000 qualified healthcare professionals in national, state, regional and corporate projects in both the public and private sectors. The software is available in 6 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian and French. Considered one of the 21 Portuguese companies for the 21st century, ALERT’s clients include the Portuguese Ministry of Health, the Paris American Hospital (France), La Tour Hospital (Switzerland), Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (United Kingdom), TEC Salud – San José Tec Hospital in Monterrey (Mexico), the Secretary of State for Health of Minas Gerais (Brazil), and the Catholic University of Chile, among others. Its portfolio includes implementations for paper-free hospitals in Europe, the USA, the Middle East and Latin America. An example of internationalisation, the company has its headquarters in Portugal and has subsidiaries in Brazil, Mexico, USA, Spain, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Singapore, licensed partners in Mexico, Guatemala and Kuwait, and authorised distributors in Chile and Italy.
Winner ex-aequo 2007: Frulact – Ingredientes para a Indústria de Lacticínios, SA
Frulact is the leading Iberian company group in fruit-based preparations for the food, dairy, industrial bakery, ice cream and beverage industries. For 25 years, Frulact has supplied multinationals such as Nestlé and Danone with yoghurts and Unilever with juices and ice creams. The company, created by João Miranda and his father, Américo Miranda, and the only Portuguese company with this activity, maintains close collaboration with various institutions and entities of the Scientific and Technological System, boosting the generation and transmission of knowledge, and the differentiation and competitiveness of the company. Since the beginning of the project in 1987, internationalisation and innovation have been strong bets for the company, which now employs around 500 people. Founded in Maia, the company is an important case of internationalisation, with the Portuguese market only worth between 2.5% and 3% of the company’s turnover, which was around €90 million in 2012. With three factories in Portugal and production units in France, Morocco, Algeria and South Africa, Frulact is also present in various countries in Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, through exports. Alongside its internationalisation, Frulact continues to invest in innovation through FRUTECH – Research, Development and Innovation Centre installed in Maia, with around 40 technicians focused on the development of differentiated products and which includes pilot installations, food microbiology laboratories and physical-chemical and sensorial characterisation of fruit and its derivatives. The company has received numerous awards, such as those received in 2013 as Company of the Year, for the Excellens Oeconomia Award (PwC and Jornal de Negócios), or the Nutrition Awards in the Research and Development category, with the ‘FruShape – Fruta em formas’ project.
Winner 2006: PRIMAVERA – Business Software Solutions, SA
PRIMAVERA BSS is a company with Portuguese capital dedicated to the development and commercialisation of management solutions and platforms for the integration of business processes, providing solutions for all types of organisations and sectors of activity such as Public Administration, Commerce, Civil Construction, Industry or Services. Since 1993 it has been developing avant-garde solutions that respond in advance to the future needs of companies, which is why it is inscribed in the group of the 500 largest European companies with the greatest growth potential, a ranking promoted by Growth Plus. Some 40 thousand companies use PRIMAVERA solutions every day to optimise their business processes, investing in digitalisation and innovation. PRIMAVERA BSS’s internationalisation is also seen as a strategic factor that is fundamental to its future competitiveness, business diversification and excellence. The software company is present in Portugal, Spain, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and Kenya, and is the market leader in several of these countries. In terms of close collaboration, the technological partnership with Microsoft has enabled PRIMAVERA BSS to take part in important experimentation and research projects and promote the most advanced technological solutions to its users first hand. At the European level, PRIMAVERA BSS is also integrated into Microsoft’s Technology.NET experimentation programmes, a partnership that has enabled the organisation to present first hand to its users and partners solutions designed and developed entirely for the Web.
Winner 2005: Chipidea Microelectrónica, SA
A technology company founded in 1997 by a team of engineers led by José Epifâneo da Franca, Chipidea was the first Portuguese company dedicated to the design of advanced mixed-signal integrated circuits, in which it created unique know-how. Headquartered in TagusPark and with subsidiaries in the United States, Belgium, France, Poland and Macau, Chipidea licensed intellectual property for consumer electronic products (telecommunications, wireless, video and audio), which only entered the market after 2 to 3 years. The company was thus developing the analogue technology that would support products of the future. As a result of its success, it was sold to the American company MIPS Technologies in 2007 for 147 million euros.