Day 3 – February 12 – Faro

Today was another full day of key meetings with government, business, and academia.  We started the day with a morning meeting with Duarte Padinha, a key leadership figure at the Portuguese Tourism Office for the Algarve.  It was a good open meeting where he shared strategy in branding the Algarve region, while highlighting the challenges in accurate or available metrics on tourism statistics and insightful analytics. Duarte provided us data in the categories that we seek in each meeting around improved economic development, public and private collaboration, and open data platform feedback.
After wrapping up at the tourism office, we quickly drive across the city to the University of Algarve to meet with Tomasz Boski, Vice Reitor.  Though Tomasz was fairly new in his role, he shared valuable insight including what he believed was working and not working between the university and the private business sector.  He was very interested in some of the IBM research we shared with him around water initiatives.  We gathered some valuable data points around the universities role in the region as well as their role in helping develop business and skills for the region.

At the conclusion of our meeting at the University, we met with a local business leader, Antonio Farinha, and his Vice President, Joao Pinto for lunch at a fantastic restaurant we had been to a couple of nights previously with the Mayor and our IBM Country GM.  During our lunch, we got a unique view of the Algarve region from one of the more successful businessmen who not only shared how his 200 year old company was driving economic development, but also what challenges he was facing in the region.  He invited us to his fishery later in the day which we gladly accepted.  He was very open to sharing his thoughts and ideas and what he believed was necessary to drive economic growth in the region.

We wrapped up lunch and headed to our next meeting with the Regional Director for Economy in the Algarve, Gilberto Viegas. It was a brief meeting where he shared his thoughts and ideas from a government position on what challenges in economic growth the region was facing.

At the conclusion of that meeting, we quickly headed back to the hotel where we all changed in to clothes that would be more conducive to a visit to Antonio Farinha’s fishery.  This was the highlight of the day for all of us as he gave us a very detailed view into the operations for growing, harvesting, inspecting, and distributing their products (clams, mussels, oysters, fish, etc) from their aquaculture operations.
So as we sit and write our update for the day, we are all pretty tired, but feel it was an incredibly productive day.  Tomorrow we start all over again at 6am as we get ready to head up to Lisbon for a full day of meetings with government stakeholders as well as collaborative meetings with our IBM Portugal colleagues.

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