Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - TOKFORCEIFIADE (Transfer of knowledge for building capacities for change management in Portugal)

This transfer of knowledge (ToK) project, with the aim of building capacities for change management in Portugal towards sustainable development, was implemented in a small Portuguese small and medium enterprise (SME), namely CEIFA, from 1 May 2005 to 30 June 2008.

The host institution's main interest was less academic than practical. In accordance with the Technical Annex, the guest researchers were not expected to spend too much time writing academic papers, making lectures or presenting papers in conferences; they should rather closely work with CEIFA's staff on the transfer of theoretic concepts and knowledge to practical applications. The project was designed and implemented according to this main objective. Nevertheless, the guest researchers participated in a large number of events to their own benefit and launched several training actions, some of them exclusively directed to our staff, others open to public participation.

As the title of the project suggests, TOKFORCEIFIADE was expected to promote specific technical and scientific competences in different areas, in order to 'build capacities for change management'. Each researcher was requested to define, in accordance with the coordinator, a unique research project, which he (or she) then developed during his (her) stay in CEIFA. We agreed with the guest researchers that the geographic scope of the research should focus on the Oeste region in Portugal. Moreover, all research activities should be developed with the aim to stimulate follow up projects beyond the end of the fellowships. From the perspective of the host organisation, the project should also conduct to a coherent, integrating result. For this purpose, we charged one of the guest researchers, who stayed with us 24 months, to supervise and coordinate all activities.

Passing the entire process in review, we became convinced that these early decisions were the golden key for its success. In fact, the guest researchers had quite diverse backgrounds, since they consisted of an ecological economist, an informatics expert, an architect and two designers. The diversity of approaches by which they addressed the same issue, i.e. the sustainable regional development, was an extraordinary enriching aspect of the project. However, if there was not a sort of invisible hand keeping things running coherently, we would certainly not achieve the objectives of the project so perfectly, for the mutual benefit of the guest researchers and CEIFA.

At the end of the project we were convinced that it opened horizons not only for CEIFA, but also for other institutions and individuals that participated in the actions promoted by our guest researchers. It stimulated new projects, based on the closure of material and energy loops, which was established as an effective instrument to enhance sustainable regional development. CEIFA gained new capacities in the analysis and evaluation of complex systems, particularly concerning the use of computational tools for supporting decision making and scenario analysis processes. The software Umberto, which was introduced in our enterprise by one of the guest researchers, became a main work instrument of our staff for the solution of diverse problems involving economic, technical and environmental challenges. In particular, this instrument was also used in the search of optimal options for products, i.e. for eco-design, and for sustainability oriented local and regional development strategies.

Though the Oeste region still has a strong rural character, it is subject of a growing urbanisation pressure. Issues related to urbanism and architecture present therefore main challenges for the sustainable regional development. The work with one of our guest researchers in eco-architecture allowed CEIFA to extend its former focus on building waste management to a more integrated approach. By the time of the project completion we were working on sustainable construction, which involved decision making processes alongside the entire life cycle of buildings. We developed tools that allowed for an integrated approach of the problem from the planning phase by architects and landlords to the management of materials by workers at the building site, in order to implement eco-efficient solutions for energy and material management in the building sector.

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