RIPE FOR INVESTMENT

Portugal 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

PTPC is incorporating sustainability and digital technologies to add further value to the sector.

Rita Moura
BIOGRAPHY
Rita Moura obtained a degree in civil engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico of Universidade Técnica de Lisboa. Moura has worked for the Teixeira Duarte Group since 1986 and is currently responsible for its rehabilitation studies and projects. She also coordinates structural inspection and research and development activities, duties that she previously performed as studies and projects manager at BEL, S.A., until its merger with Teixeira Duarte – Engenharia e Construções, S.A. She is the president of the Portuguese Construction Technology Platform (PTPC); member of the Council Board of ENCORD; and member of the board of the Portuguese Association of Structural Engineering (APEE), among others. She has had more than 50 technical articles published by the national and international press and has organized more than 20 technical conferences.

How do PTPC and Cluster AEC maximizes innovation and boost the overall competitiveness of Portugal's construction industry?

In Portugal, people have excellent ICT skills and must be brought into the construction sphere. PTPC is in talks with other partners in the ICT field to add value to construction. We not only think about the physical part of construction, but also the information connected with infrastructure. We intend to work with companies in the ICT and communications systems sector to enter the field of smart structures. For example, it is possible to place sensors to monetize and measure functions and generate information. AI and the IoT are extremely relevant in this context. We are doing everything we can to extract the appropriate profit and contribute to society through the use of technology.

How do you work to ensure the best possible synergies between associations, technical institutes, and private players in the construction and infrastructure sector?

PTPC's starting point was major construction companies, though it also rapidly brings in designers, consultants, universities, start-ups, SMEs, and various associations. We look beyond the construction industry and create relationships with companies from other sectors such as ICT companies and their cluster in Portugal. We work with many players also outside the construction sector as well as associations and public entities.

How do you boost sustainability in the construction industry to minimize the impact on the environment?

Sustainability is a crucial issue for the construction sector. Our industry is the number-one consumer of natural resources from the outset of any building project, and we are directly or indirectly responsible for around 40% of CO2 emissions. Sustainability is not something new for the construction industry; it is part of its DNA. If we want to be competitive, it is essential to make excellent use of natural resources, recycle, minimize waste, and use less energy in construction. We have to be sustainable; this is the number-one issue for the construction industry.

What are the objectives behind the PTPC proposed think tank?

We are in the process of developing the idea and are producing a proposal to discuss with the government. Infrastructure development is vital for the country and should be prioritized. We are involving many experts from PTPC and Cluster AEC to make the proposal interesting, including information for potential investors about the value and feasibility of possible projects.

What are your expectations for the performance of Portugal's economy?

Regarding long-term investments, the infrastructure sector is promising. We have a great deal of activity in the real estate sector and prices are booming, mainly in Lisbon and Porto. However, there is also significant potential in tourism in other parts of the country. The government rightly wants to increase investment in industry in general, and such investments are essential because we do not want to have an economy based solely on tourism. At present, Portugal is ready to receive more investment in industry because it has an excellent transportation network and digital connectivity.

What are some of your top priorities for PTPC in the coming years to continue to support the construction industry's development?

We need to work more with architects because PTPC is a managing entity of Cluster AEC, which leads in architecture, engineering, and construction. Another focus is being up to date in digital technology and having a digital attitude. We need flexible companies that can respond to their clients' needs. This means we have to work with start-ups in a different way to help our companies during this digital transformation. This disruption is both a challenge and an opportunity for our industry and we have to open it up. We are focused on Industry 4.0 and on the circular economy and have to apply all our expertise to this. Universities are working closely with PTPC, which we are also pleased with. We have all the conditions to succeed, including a country with excellent potential, and are extremely ambitious with our plans.