André Lopes

Cotec / Universidade NOVA


COTEC / Universidade NOVA



Project type



Software, Data Management, Project Management

My responsabilities

Assisted during the multiple discovery sessions, defined requirements, produced wireframes and did lo-fi testing, produced the Design System and Layout, and provided support to the external Development team.


Nelson Alves (Head of Design), André Lopes (Product Designer), Priscila Prado (Project Manager) and an external development team.

Work done at



Who's Cotec?

COTEC is a private non-profit association established in 2003 with the support of the President and Prime Minister of Portugal, dedicated to fostering innovation and competitiveness in Portuguese companies. The association's mission is to enhance the competitiveness of Portuguese companies through the promotion of innovation and the dissemination of knowledge.

The organization collaborates with its members and institutions in the National Innovation System to achieve its goals through various initiatives. The project undertaken by COTEC is challenging due to the involvement of multiple stakeholders with different objectives and the impact of economic, social, educational, and cultural factors specific to Portugal.

What did they want to do?

COTEC wanted to create an internal platform, in partnership with a Doctorate student at Universidade NOVA, that would allow companies to assess their risk level and to support them in applying to fundings.

This platform would allow users to enter their company’s basic info, create a timetable for their tasks and see how likely they were to slip, depending on the tasks, compare projects that belonged to the same category and see which one would be more viable, and so on.

How was it done?

The project started out with the first thing that any project requires: understanding it.

This was an extremely intricate doctorate thesis, with dozens of complex formulas behind it, with very distinct areas of performance, project categorization, project comparison, time slippage projections, risk assessment, and project documentation and evaluation.

We started with several workshop sessions to deconstruct this very long and detailed thesis and analysing the Excel files that supported this platform. Due to everyone’s limited availability, we had to break up these sessions into smaller ones and it took almost two weeks until we had something clear enough so we could start working.

Writing the projects requirements was the second step at this point. This would validate if we had a clear understanding of the process and it allowed the development teams to start preparing their background work and provide estimates.

The requirements were essential to validate our knowledge of what COTEC wanted to create.

Once they were approved by the client and the development team, we had green light to continue to the wireframes and start mapping out the user journey.

The wireframes started to come to life quite easily because, besides having the doctorate thesis, COTEC also had Excel support files which allowed users to perform the risk analysis and tests. These support files had already a very clear distinction between the platform sections.

We constantly validated these wireflows with the development team, to ensure its feasibility. After a few iterations and validations with the client and the doctorate student, we were ready to start giving this platform a good-looking face.

This process usually starts with reference searching, analyzing the brand identity (which in this case, there wasn't any as it was an internal tool) and selecting 3 or 4 screens that are different between them and that best represent the platform.

These screens are explored to try and best the look and feel that best suits this platform until we get into something that can escalate to a Design System.

Above is an example of an iterative process of one page in particular, upon which we decided to use as a almost-dark mode, in order to distinguish the most important module of the platform: the risk analysis.

With the Look & Feel already being used to kickstart the initial UI, we were ready to move on to transform these visuals into something that could be replicated into various screens and that had a systematic application.

What was unexpected?

One of the biggest challenge was the fact that this project had a few months of pause as the doctorate student waited for funding. This waiting process, like in any other project, can sometimes be detrimental to its efficiency, as we tend to forget which decisions were made and why and even some of its features.

Thankfully, this waiting period was just of a few months. We also had the requirements written down and already validated and it was a matter of reading them and going through the wireframes once more, and we were back on track.

Another challenge was definitely the thesis’ complexity. It was incredibly difficult to understand it at first, but session after session, the workshops proved to be valuable in letting us ask questions and validate our interpretations.

The last challenge to mention, was having the client’s and the student’s availability to meet and have these discovery sessions. This is a common issue that we have to deal with and there’s not really anything else we can do but find solutions to it and work around their schedules.

This is also where working asynchronously helps tremendously in speeding up this process, specially when recording videos of our interpretations and gather feedback when it best suits the client’s schedule.

What was the result?

The result was a platform that brought to life a tool for analysing companies and projects’ risks before applying for public and private funds.

This analysis was made by assessing if the project would be able to sustain itself either within the budget of the time available to complete it, by calculating its risk using a set of formulas defined by the thesis and using Monte Carlo simulations.

The platform was divided in 4 modules: Project Analysis, Project Planning, Project Evaluation and Comparison, and Risk Calculation. By completing these four modules, the user would have a much clearer understanding of the project’s viability, use the data to help it stand out in investment applications and even be able to adjust either the budget or time to decrease its risk.

Next project - Staples B2C/B2B