SOS-MSMES: a Brazilian University Network Supporting Enterprises in the COVID-19 Crisis

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Myron Yovannidis

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Countries are facing different degrees of lockdown and social distancing all over the world due to COVID-19 pandemic. This scenario has put science in the spotlight and raised the university’s responsibility to develop a great number of projects addressing not only health issues, but social and economic problems. In Brazil, many enterprises are going bankrupt and suffering the negative effects of this economic crisis without precedents, particularly micro and small businesses which represent 99% of the Brazilian companies.

This risky scenario required urgent solutions. Thus, in a two-week task force, a group of eleven associate professors at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Business School created the SOS-MSMES project with the objective of providing advice and support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Staff and students from different university faculties, as well as alumni and professionals from the community were engaged in a collaborative advisory network. To date, it has provided support to 134 MSMES with 285 volunteers.

Dr. Daniela Brauner, Dr. Fernanda Reichert, Dr. Lisiane Closs, and Dr. Raquel Janissek-Muniz are Associate Professors in the Business School at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), ranked #1 among the Brazilian Federal Universities. They are co-creators of the SOS-MSMES project.

Dr. Daniela Brauner is currently director of the Centre for Business Studies and Research at UFRGS. She has been a research manager in the Brazilian National Research and Education Network leading both national and international collaborative projects. At UFRGS she is also Coordinator of the Network of Science and Technology Incubators of the Zenit Science Park. Her research interests include open innovation, data intelligence and business analytics. She is the SOS-MSMES project coordinator.

Dr. Fernanda Reichert is a Researcher at Nitec Innovation Research Center; IEA Future Lab and Parent in Science and leads Women and Innovation and Low-tech Innovation research projects. She has been a researcher at the Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC - UTAS). Her research interests include firm innovation capabilities, innovation in low-tech industries, women and innovation, maternity in science.

Dr. Lisiane Closs is a researcher at the International Career Observatory. She currently coordinates research projects on Learning Environments in Higher Education and on Teacher Training in Stricto Sensu Graduate Programs in Management. Dr. Closs has been a research visiting fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education working in collaboration with the Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC) project.

Dr. Raquel Janissek-Muniz is a coordinator at the Strategic and Anticipative Intelligence Brazil Research Group (IEA Future Lab). She has been working on research in the fields of Strategic Foresight, Weak Signals, and Anticipative Intelligence. Dr. Janissek-Muniz is the Director of the Centre for Business Studies and Research at UFRGS and she is the SOS-MSMES project vice-coordinator.