USP Technological Incubator of Popular Cooperatives is a University Extension Program at the University of São Paulo that promotes solidarity economy.
Founded in 1998, from a study group led by Professor Paul Singer and by the initiative of the Coordenadoria Executiva de Cooperação Universitária e Atividades Especiais (CECAE), the ITCP-USP encourages and supports actions in communities in the periphery of São Paulo, forming groups to practice the self-management and its place in the market in various economic activities, such as food, clothing and sewing, urban agriculture, production of cleaning and hygiene products, services and computer assistance. Workers that search alternatives to earn money against inequality and unemployment are organized in work cooperatives, whose basic principles are the collective ownership of production and distribution, democratic management and appreciation of the worker.
Such projects are created through a process of “incubation” which consists of continuing education aimed at the autonomy and emancipation of incubated groups, as well as the development of new relations of production and work. The relationship established for the groups is based on the concept of popular education of Paulo Freire, marked by dialogue between knowledge of the community and the academic knowledge. The inseparability of teaching, research and extension is another important assumption. Training and production of research are practices that are part of the intervention carried out by ITCP. Since 1999, the ITCP-USP makes up the Rede Nacional de ITCPs. Scattered throughout the country, currently, about 40 institutions of higher education have similar programs.