Shahid Hafeez: “The collaborations between universities, incubation centres, students, and entrepreneurs are off the charts.”

At UPTEC, we have our doors open for new ideas, innovation, challenges and secondments. We welcome startups, big companies, universities and hubs from all over the world. Shahid Hafeez from the University of Vaasa, one of UPTEC’s partners in the OpenInnoTrain community, is the next interviewee of “Open Doors”, and he shares his three months of experience at UPTEC and the main reasons for joining our ecosystem.

Shahid Hafeez || Doctoral candidate and project researcher

University of Vaasa || Finland || 5618 Students and 611 Personnel

University of Vaasa: A university with a heart

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your research project.


Hi! I’m Shahid Hafeez, a doctoral candidate and project researcher at the School of Technology and Innovations, University of Vaasa in Finland. My research interests revolve around digital innovations, collaborative mechanisms, and knowledge sharing for technological innovations and creating new ventures.

So, how did I end up in Porto? It all started when a colleague told me about this exciting opportunity through OpenInnoTrain. After some discussions with my supervisor, Dr. Khuram Shahzad, I realized Porto was the place to be. Because it’s got this fantastic organic growth in new venture creation, plus strong collaborations among different ecosystem players. So, Porto was for my secondment!

Why did you choose to come to UPTEC?


During the planning phase, I did a basic search on projects, activities and practices of UPTEC in supporting new ideas creation, incubation and a large number of graduating startups. Based on the given attributes, UPTEC became my automatic choice as collaborations, knowledge and technology transfer are very close to my heart.

What expectations did you have before starting your secondment in Porto?


Honestly, I came with high hopes to learn a lot about support activities, practices, and projects that help startups in different phases of their lifecycle, particularly in their early phases.

Were your expectations met?


Now, let’s talk about my experience here. It’s been even better than I expected (and trust me, my expectations were pretty high). I’ve delved into various aspects of the incubation process. The people here are super friendly and extroverted – always up for a chat and willing to help. I’ve had great conversations with entrepreneurs who’ve turned ideas into products or services. And let’s not forget the ambitious students from Porto University, eager to embark on their innovative journeys. I’ve also chatted with different regional players who support this entrepreneurial ecosystem through different initiatives.

What aspects of your secondment in Porto did you especially enjoy?


Oh, it’s a hard one to crack; overall, it has been amazing. The collaborations between universities, incubation centres, students, and entrepreneurs are off the charts. And top-notch networking events. Oh, the food – it’s a flavour. The weather’s just right, and the city’s vibrant. Plus, the locals are always ready to lend a hand or offer guidance.

How will your project continue after your time here in Porto?


As for my mission, I’m benchmarking ecosystem practices in the Porto region. My goal? Share these learnings with stakeholders back in Vaasa, especially when it comes to new venture creation.

July 16, 2024

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