From the total registration received, 26 registrations came from Portuguese competitors and six were effectively submitted. The large majority of the registered competitors were young architects recently graduated, with ages between 20 and 30 years old and organized in teams, five projects from teams and only one from an individual. Most of the competitors had no previous experience in PV while some had already participated in non-PV oriented competitions. From these, three Portuguese finalist projects were analyse in more detail: the winner project, Power Fold, from a young team of architects and designers, one of the honourable mentions, Sun Square, from an industrial designer and the Basic Housing Unit for Urban Natural Hazards from a multidisciplinary team of architects, engineers and managers.
The Power Fold project was the most innovative concept presented to the competition and is presented as a dynamic structure that by itself generates space, polarizing the city with renewable electricity production points. This project effectively appropriated the concept of a material that while generating green electricity can develop a wider set of functions and be combined with other materials. Design constraints, specifically mass production and communication were successfully addressed, being this one of the project added values. Despite the teams dynamic and innovation spirit, their core business is to create and had no previous ideas, knowledge or intention to develop the project after the competition. Nevertheless the team responded very positively to the idea of participating in an entrepreneurship course and actually won the entrepreneurship programme prize for best business idea with Power Fold. The team also entered two other competitions, for new products ideas and for new business ideas, having successfully reached the finalist entries in both. The market recognition of the project relevance and possibility to succeed was undoubtedly a motivation for the team to search for further support and to continue the project development. Nevertheless, the fact of being already an entrepreneurial team, as this team owns their own architecture atelier, was a decisive background for responding to the competition and continuing the project development process, as they are more aware of the opportunities and challenges entailed in new business start up. Having a pre-culture on entrepreneurship made new projects assessment a more appealing challenge and contributed to the definition and incentive on new ways of promoting and realizing their goals.
Sun Square concept is based on an autonomous, renewable and ecological multimedia esplanade fed with solar energy, by a structure of PV sunshades, presenting itself as one of the most feasible projects both in terms of structure and PV application. Despite being a very dynamic industrial designer, the market had already deceived this young professional and the idea of no evolution regarding these types of projects was entrained. With no basic ideas on how to develop the project, the designer did not withdraw to the perspectives on an entrepreneurship education, having effectively entered the entrepreneurship course. The idea was also presented to an Energy Agency and with the organizers support the design patent and copyright protection process was initiated. The use of conventional materials, even conventional PV products, allows possible partners and investors to perceive clearly the project’s aim and what might be the processes and economic aspects involved. On the perspective of innovation diffusion/adoption, and in this case, PV materials adoption, the designer is a clear case of success. Confirming is the participation in Lisbon Ideas Challenge second edition, clearly attracted by the technology and within a spirit that invites him to search for innovative integrating possibilities. All these facts allow concluding that the right stimulus from the market and the support from the competition organizers fostered this entrepreneurial individual to develop new skills regarding business conception and encouraged him to become committed with the technology and use it in other projects, fostering dissemination and networks expansion among pairs.
The Basic Housing Unit for Urban Natural Hazards (BHU UNH) presents a project for a selfmountable and mass-producible tent to use in critical situations. Although being designed for urban areas, this project does not respond to the competition’s objective, as it is meant for crisis periods. The authors based their idea on the conjunction of two technologies: a third generation photovoltaic film and an inflatable composite structure with bioclimatic principles. The competitor’s idea is to use organic solar cells that could be printed in the tent’s coating, a still not mature technology that needs detailed analysis when taken into consideration for a project. The BHU NUH team lack of more detailed knowledge regarding this technology made them advance some considerations that, extrapolated from the research field into the commercial sector, may conduct to high expectations, not feasible in the short term and with significant implications in the project feasibility. This team was the most advanced team in the competition in terms of their project development and also the most motivated one to continue developing the tent. The team developed the patent and project protection since the beginning and actively searched for technological support in the various areas. This dynamic spirit can be attributed not only to the team’s leader, but also to the team’s multidisciplinary background. This team was the only to work
with emerging technologies. This fact made them invest in an innovative project, that probably, if the team knew that organic cells were not ready to enter the market, as they thought, would drive them to pursue more presently feasible concepts and create this tent with a different design and using a market available technology. Having already contacted several partners, that could assure the technological support, and the fact that some of the team members had recently embraced new professional projects made them decide not to enter the entrepreneurship programme. Despite the initial positive feed back and the team pro-active initiatives, the market could not respond as effectively as they expected and the project evolution was compromised.
Concluding on architecture/design competitions potential to promote new product development one can affirm that the most likely hypothesis is that these initiatives do foster new product development, as long as the right accompaniment and effective feedback is assured, supporting the evolution and product development process. Portuguese young professionals in the fields of architecture and design present the potential to undertake user as innovators and entrepreneurship attitudes when developing PV urban structures, as long as the right incentives and adequate support is offered. Doing so, the products created will actively dynamize the market, even by interacting with mature companies and raising an innovative and competitive spirit on the market.