The professional trajectory of engineer Bruno Rondani, 33, focused on business innovation and strategy from the start. In 2001, while still an undergraduate in electrical engineering at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), he obtained an internship at the headquarters of the French company Thales, which carries out work in the aerospace and defense sectors. It was there, in France, that Rondani was first introduced to innovation and business.
Upon returning to Brazil to complete his degree, he was hired by Omnisys, a company that had signed an agreement with Thales (Omnisys was later acquired by the French company, in 2006). “While still an intern, I applied to have Omnisys participate in the Innovative Research in Small Businesses Program (Pipe-FAPESP), which supported us with R$1.2 million.” With these funds, the company set up its research center in partnership with Unicamp and the Institute for Technological Research (IPT), in São Caetano do Sul (SP), and Rondani was promoted to project manager.
In 2003, he began a master’s degree in engineering at Unicamp. “At the same time, I started to get involved with project management and obtaining funding for technological research at the company,” says Rondani, who left Omnisys in 2004 and founded Allagi at the Unicamp Technology Business Incubator. The company specializes in open innovation services—a term coined by the American Henry Chesbrough. Open innovation is based on the use of paths inside and outside the company to leverage the development of new technologies. “The objective was to help companies establish innovation partnerships with universities and put together proposals to obtain funding.” Telefônica was among Allagi’s first clients.
In 2008, Rondani left Allagi management (he remains a partner) to devote himself to a doctorate in business administration at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo (FGV-SP). “I felt the need for new ideas. I came from the sciences, but wanted to delve into the world of business,” he says. However, it did not take long for Rondani to realize that he was not content with just one project. That same year, he established the Brazilian Center for Open Innovation, responsible for organizing seminars on the subject in Brazil. Rondani’s work attracted the attention of Saab, the Swedish company specialized in aircraft production.
“They wanted to set up an R&D center in Brazil, and I became responsible for that operation.” With Saab’s support, Rondani established the Swedish-Brazilian Research and Innovation Center in São Bernardo do Campo, an accomplishment eventually became his dissertation topic. After completing his doctorate, Rondani devoted himself to the Open Innovation Center, which in 2013 became Wenovate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging and promoting innovation projects. These include holding Open Innovation Week, one of the biggest international events on the topic, and promoting training and certification programs related to open innovation.
Rondani has also taught courses and lectured at several institutions in Brazil and abroad, including the FEI School of Engineering in São Paulo, the Business School of the Institute of Management Foundation, and the Continuing Education Program at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (USP). “Innovation is a hybrid area that involves economics, technology, management, science and law. Increasingly, universities and industry are joining forces, and so we can no longer think of a career just in science, or only in business,” says Rondani.