In Blog, PTC Member Profiles

Afonso Salema, CEO, Start Campus

Afonso Salema
Start Campus

Start Campus

Afonso Salema is responsible for the development of the SINES project by Start Campus. This hyperscale data center campus will be one of Europe’s largest data center campuses and will respond to growing demand from large international technology companies. It will benefit from strategic advantages such as ocean water cooling systems, access to the high voltage power grid, and connectivity through the connection to high-capacity international fiber optic cables with North America, Africa, and South America. Prior to Start Campus, Afonso spent 15 years in investment banking, covering the renewable energy and infrastructure sectors.

How can telecommunications technologies help humanity?

I love this question and it prompts me to recall the book The Victorian Internet, by Tom Standage. The book highlights how the world changed due to the introduction of the telegraph. The true revolution is not the Internet, and the faster and more bandwidth capabilities, the real revolution was how it completely changed the way that we communicate — with our families, our co-workers, and with our friends. For example, I have a commitment with my children that every single day at 6 p.m. their local time that I would call, no matter where I am in the world. If we go back to post-World War II, people would go weeks or months without receiving letters and wondering what was going on with their loved ones. Today, we can speak with our children every day before they go to bed. And that’s amazing.


I think that evolution is positive. We can see how cultures have started to fit together and work together. It’s all about new communication and the availability of communication because if all these cultures were completely isolated, there’s no cultural interchange. There’s no learning the best about each other. Every single one of us is living our own life. Telecommunications completely changed the world and that’s what makes us, as humans, unique. We are now a living, breathing, unified global world where you can speak with someone somewhere in China and find things in common; for example, the latest movie that was released. None of this would be available if we didn’t have telecommunications, and it is because we have it that humanity can achieve the next level of civilization. It is critical.

How can corporations and researchers best serve the next generation?

The fact that the Internet was started by a military project that very soon turned into a university exchange project — a way for universities to share knowledge, that’s the best way. The best thing that corporations and researchers can do for the next generation is to share knowledge with them and help them evolve. As Isaac Newton said, the only reason we are here is by standing on the shoulders of giants. What this effectively means is that knowledge is built on strong foundations that keep on growing, and it’s up to the current generation of corporations and researchers to set the basis for the next generation that leads and helps us achieve even higher levels of excellence.

Is it important for companies to continue to innovate their organization or offerings, and why?

Looking back over the past 100 years, one thing is certain: Things have changed. We’re always changing and innovating. So if companies do not reinvent themselves, if they are not starting to look at new projects and make sure that they know what their clients are looking for help with, then someone else will and the company that did not continue to innovate will eventually disappear. 20 years ago, the top 20 companies were very different from today’s top 20 companies. 20 years ago, energy companies dominated the world economy; now it’s the tech companies. How will it be in 20 years’ time? Different, since change is the only constant. We can see that corporations need to be one step ahead. And when you’re developing a product, you need to already start thinking about where you are going to go with it — what  is the next level?

What value does PTC hold for you/your company?

Networking without a doubt. As a European company and part of the global digital infrastructure industry, we are part of PTC because it is the primary industry organization to exchange new ideas and to see where the global industry is moving and maturing. Headquartered in Portugal, in some ways our country is super developed — we have fiber to every home — however, in other instances we are immature. As a member of PTC, we get to work with partners that allow us to identify challenges, opportunities, and a pathway to achieve our goals.

What would you share with those interested in becoming a PTC Member?

From a European point of view, the euro-telecommunications market has been driven and evolved by the incumbents, who still hold a huge grip on communications infrastructure within various individual European countries. What PTC empowers companies to do is to help find ways to overcome the incumbent’s grip, and actually offer new network and IP communication services. Creating more competition, improving services, and reducing costs in the process.

What advice would you share with current and future graduates interested in this field?

Start Campus is in the data center industry, and with a broader focus we’re a pure digital infrastructure company. What does that mean, and why should this appeal to future workforces to keep the lights on? We keep the world moving and communicating with digital infrastructure. The fact that digital infrastructure companies exist, it’s what makes day-to-day lives seem seamless from a simple food order to communicating with your closest friends, colleagues, and family on the other side of the world.

What is something that not that many people know about you?

I have a twin brother.

What has been a positive outcome organizationally or individually given the current state of the world?

The reality is that the global digital infrastructure industry just exploded. That’s a silver lining.

About Start Campus
Fully powered by renewable and affordable energy, Start Campus offers 100% sustainable facilities. The strategic locations are fully powered by renewable and cost-efficient energy, providing a state-of-the-art ecosystem. The facilities have a low TCO due to the repurposing of energy using ocean water for cooling, solar/wind power, and its location on a repurposed energy grid. By locating facilities outside of large metro regions, Start Campus makes a positive impact on net contributions by providing a new industry within local communities, complete with employment and new skills.

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