ISSUE 1471 JUNE 2007• 5/8
Publisher and Editor: Ken Pottinger, in-country consulting on Portugal since 1974
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logistics platform to assemble and adapt Chinese goods – incorporating some local R&D – for the EU market.Similar developments have occurred in Madrid andBarcelona. Miguel Quaresma warns that assemblyplants would only be authorized if they employed localrather than imported Chinese labour.
Technology: Virtual reality opportunity for SMEs
The Visionarium, Europarque in northern Portugalcould be turned into a virtual reality plant hosting the firstPortuguese Interactive Technology Complex, aninvestment of some
8 million, says a June 16 report.The complex will be developed by Insize, a venture thatpartners with an international consortium led by EONReality (US). EON is world software leader in managinginteractive visual content installed in universities andresearch centres. The unique selling point of theplanned investment is that it makes available to smalland medium sized enterprise a facility currently theexpensive domain of big multinationals. Manufacturerssuch as BMW have for instance abandoned crashtesting in favour of immersive virtual reality for validatingtheir safety criteria. Insize will make these outsourcedtools available to SMEs for 5-dimensional testing anddevelopment helping upgrade the value chain for thesefirms. João Vieira, driving force behind Insize says:"This is a pioneering initiative which will allow for thephysical experience of any project or environmentbefore it is actually created”. João Vieira, an immersiveenvironments architect, has just returned from Californiawhere he finalized the US partnership. Three years agohis idea won a prize from the Portuguese InnovationAgency. It was also selected by IAPMEI (the SMEsupport agency) for the Empreenda-Projectofiveprogramme under the Portuguese Technology Plan. Theinvestors have attracted funding and support afteridentifying Visionarium as the ideal environment for theproject.
Agriculture: Frulact aims to be European player
Frulact (Tortosendo, Covilhã , north) has opened a
12.5 million fruit processing plant with a 40 ton annualcapacity, doubling current output to meet growing exportdemand, particularly in France where it supplies the milkfood, ice cream and pastry processing markets. Frulactestablished in 1987, aims to become a European playerin the fruit processing industry, says João Miranda, itsmanaging director. The company currently ranks asIberian leader in its market and has set upmanufacturing plants in Morocco, Tunisia and Franceand currently exports fruit-based preparations under 800different brands to Libya, Egypt, Iran and the UnitedArab Emirates. The new plant at Parkurbis TechnologyPark will be followed by further investments of
5 millionin Morocco and Algeria. From its base in France whereacquired Granger Bouguet Pau at Vichy, the company isdriving its European expansion into Italy, Belgium andSwitzerland. It plans to extend sales into EasternEurope from Vichy. But the core of its operationsremains Portugal-based. João Miranda says the lifecycle of products is getting shorter and today lasts nolonger than two years. He said brands at the end of theirlife account for sales losses of 10-12%. “Our biggestchallenge is to influence and anticipate market trendsand create added value through innovation,” he said.Frulact imports 90% of its raw material from Spain,Morocco, Poland, Chile, India, South Africa andThailand. He said a kilo of pitted, frozen cherries fromSerbia including transport cost is still cheaper thanacquiring fresh cherries in Portugal. Profile: Fruit basedpreparations for the food industry; Turnover:
40million/year; 90% exported; Head office: Tortosendo,Covilhã; New products: 150 in 3 years; Investment inR&D: 3.5% of sales; Capacity: 65 tonnes; Annualaverage growth: 20%.
Labour: White Paper ready for consultations
According to a June 13 report, the committeeresponsible for drawing up the White Paper on LabourRelations has delivered its findings to Jose Vieira daSilva, Minister for Labour and Social Solidarity who willshortly put the document up for public consultation.Guidelines in the White Paper could result in substantiallabour law changes along the lines of a model thatappeals for closer relationships between the businessworld and trades unions. The White Paper will attemptto ensure that working hours, contract regulations andhiring and firing are decided on a bilateral basis – apractice already in place in companies such asAutoEuropa. The White Paper fails to discuss the“flexigurança” option a Danish inspired model whichcombines greater hiring and firing flexibility withimproved unemployment protection. “Flexigurança” isvery expensive to run. According to José Carlos PintoCoelho of Confederação do Turismo, the tourismconfederation: " Among EU member states, Portugal isfar and away the country with the least flexible labourregulations. The tourism sector needs more staff butcompanies are afraid to hire", he said. He urged morecontract flexibility. "A receptionist should be allowed andable to work behind the bar and vice versa dependingon the seasons. We also believe that any incompatibilitybetween management and staff should lead to individualnot collective dismissals”.
EXCHANGE: Currency rates: June 18, 1 EUR-PTE200.482; 1 USD-
0.745926, 1 UKP-