A small company, with 17 members of staff and sales of R$ 1 million a year, supplying chemical products to companies like Rhodia, Petrobras, Kodak, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors and Votorantim, besides the Environmental Sanitation Technology Company (Cetesb) and the State of São Paulo Basic Sanitation Company (Sabesp). This is the commercial profile of Quimlab, a company installed in the Technological Incubator of the Paraíba Valley University (Univap), of São José dos Campos, which won the 2003 Incubated Company of the Year award, in an election organized by the National Association of Entities Fostering Enterprises with Advanced Technologies (Anprotec), an entity that brings together incubators and technology parks in the country.
Behind this success lies the recognition of the innovation of a company that developed and produces, in a way that is without precedent in the country, chemical patterns drawn up on metrological criteria. These are substances for industrial use that are employed in the calibration of instruments that measure parameters like pH, ionic conductivity or concentration of metals, for example, in analyses in which the presence of lead or iron in a foodstuff is verified. In this last case, the patterns serve to calibrate the equipment that carries out analyses by spectrophotometry, or an analysis of chemical elements in a material through the emission or absorption of light. Accordingly, Sabesp, for example, uses a product from Quimlab to verify the acidity of water. Petrobras investigates for the presence of lead and sulfur in gasoline, and the vehicle manufacturers carry out the quality control of the steel used by them, checking, for example, for the presence of copper, zinc or iron, in the sheets they buy fromthe steel mills. Kodak, in turn, analyzes the quality of the raw material that it uses to make X-ray films and photographic paper.
“This concern with quality is present in the companies certified under the ISO 9000 standard, which establishes the need for the measurements made in the productive process to be traced to internationally recognized patterns”, explains chemist Nilton Pereira Alves, a director of Quimlab. To set the company up, as shown in Pesquisa FAPESP n° 55, which began in 1997, called for a large quantity of chemical patterns to be imported from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Nist), a benchmark in this area world-wide that works in a similar way to the National Metrology, Normalization and Industrial Quality Institute (Inmetro) in Brazil.
“We brought the prototypes that served to develop and to assess our production, in accordance with the needs of the Brazilian industry”, says Alves. “Were it not for FAPESP’s investment, we would not have succeeded in setting the company up, nor in winning the prize.” Quimlab is to move to permanent premises, in a post-incubation phase, when the installations of the Univap Technology Park are concluded, at the end of 2004.
Alongside Quimlab, for the Anprotec award, were the Santa Rita do Sapucaí (MG) Municipal Company Incubator, as the Technology Based Incubator of the Year, for work carried out in the areas of information technology, and Polymar, from Fortaleza (CE), elected the Graduated Company (having left the incubator), for the development and production of functional foods and dietary supplements.
Chemical Metrology Laboratory (nº 97/13230-0); Modality Small Business Innovation Research Program (PIPE); Coordinator Nílton Pereira Alves – Quimlab; Investment R$ 71,716.00 and US$ 149,878.00