The Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave (IPCA) was founded in 1994, through Decree-Law No. 304/94, of December 19th.

In June 1995, Prof. Doctor Eduardo Lopes Nunes. The first director of the Escola Superior de Gestão (ESG) was Prof. João Carvalho, with Dr. Manuel Barros. These three leaders constituted the first Installing Committee.

The year 1996 marked the beginning of IPCA’s academic activities, with 74 students divided into two bachelor’s courses: the Accounting and Public Finance course and the Business Accounting course, both with 37 students each.

In the following year, IPCA began its commitment to after-work education, by offering an Accounting course.

In June 2003, the second President of the IPCA, Prof. Doctor Norberto Cunha.

Although it was created in 1995, together with ESG, it was in 2004 that the Escola Superior de Tecnologia (EST) began its operations. This was a decisive milestone for the IPCA to later obtain its own legal nature and autonomy under the terms of the law. The first director was Prof. Dr Helena Bartolo.

In that first year, EST taught courses on Information Systems for Management and Industrial Informatics.

The year 2006 was marked by the second change in the presidency of the IPCA, a position that was now occupied by Prof. João Carvalho, appointed by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

In 2007, the IPCA Center for Research in Accounting and Taxation was created, which in 2009 received recognition from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

Two years later, in 2011, Prof. Doctor João Carvalho became the first IPCA President appointed by the General Council. In 2015, he was re-elected to the post.

Also in 2015, the third IPCA school was created, the Escola Superior de Design (ESD), which started to teach courses previously taught by EST: the degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design and the masters in Illustration and Animation and in Design and Development of Product. The first named director was Prof. Doctor Paula Tavares.

In October 2014, IPCA was a national protagonist, becoming one of the first institutions to teach Higher Professional Technical Courses (TeSP), reaching even the largest number of students in this type of offer. A bet that justified the inauguration of two poles: in Braga (2014) and in Guimarães (2015).

In 2017, due to illness, Prof. João Carvalho, had to resign as President, the position being temporarily assumed by Prof. Augustine Silva. On the 17th of July, Prof. Doctor Maria José Fernandes takes office as President of the IPCA.

Also in 2017, the fourth IPCA school was created, the Escola Superior de Hotelaria e Turismo (ESHT), which started to teach the degree course previously taught by ESG: Management of Tourist Activities. The training offer also extended to Masters, Higher Professional Technical Courses and Short Courses.

In the following year, IPCA becomes a Public Higher Education Institution of a foundational nature, under the terms of Law nº 62/2007, September 10th. In this context, the first IPCA Board of Trustees is elected.

In 2019, Pedro Fraga is elected President of the General Council of IPCA. It is in this year that the Higher Professional Technical School (ETESP) is approved by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor.



Between December 1994 and October 1996, the IPCA only had Casa “Campos Henriques”, located next to the Parque da Cidade de Barcelos, which would become the headquarters of the Central Services for 19 years.

The teaching activity began in temporary facilities, located in a residential neighborhood in the parish of Arcozelo, in Barcelos. The physical spaces, initially, consisted only of a block that included four classrooms, a computer room, a library, an auditorium, teachers’ offices, reception, reprographics and a bar.

Over the years, with the growth in the number of courses and students, the IPCA also increased its size in terms of facilities, occupying three spaces in Arcozelo: Complexo A (1996), Complexo B (1998) and the C Complex (2004).

In 2008, the current IPCA Campus was finally inaugurated, in the parish of Vila Frescaínha S. Martinho. In this first phase, the building for the activities of the Higher School of Management was built.

The official inauguration of the Campus took place on December 19, IPCA Day, in a ceremony presided over by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Mariano Gago, in what was the first visit by a member of the Government to the institute.

The following year, the Escola Superior de Tecnologia also moved to the IPCA Campus, staying in a temporary building that, in 2015, started to be occupied by the newly created Escola Superior de Design.

In 2010, Minister Mariano Gago returned to the IPCA Campus for the inauguration of the Cantina building, which now also houses the Social Action Services, a bar, a reprography and a multipurpose room.

Taking advantage of IPCA Day, on December 19, 2013, an old rural building was inaugurated, now refurbished and expanded, on the IPCA Campus, where the Central Services were transferred.

Three months later, in March 2014, the IPCA Campus saw the birth of the Center for Research and Development of Digital Games. The opening ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho.

In the same year, the former Central Services building, next to the Barcelos City Park, was repurposed for the installation of a Student Residence.

The entry into operation of the TeSP courses allowed IPCA to broaden its horizons and also to have a center in the city of Braga, in the IDITE Minho building. With the same objective, in 2015, the Polo de Guimarães was inaugurated, located in the Avepark – Science and Technology Park, in Caldas das Taipas.

Also in 2015, a new building was inaugurated on the IPCA Campus – Praxis XXI – where the Technical-Scientific Research Center of Cávado and Ave operates. A lending contract was also signed with the City Council of Barcelos with a view to transferring the building of the former Gonçalo Pereira School, in the center of the city, for the installation of the Higher School of Design.

It was in 2016 that the IPCA inaugurated the much-desired Pedestrian Access that connects the Polytechnic to the people of Barcelona and the city. At the opening ceremony attended by the Minister of Economy, Professor Doctor Manuel Caldeira Cabral.

On December 19, 2017, during the IPCA Day celebrations, the IPCA Central Square was inaugurated, a new centrality on the Campus. A square that serves the entire academic community and aims to promote an area of conviviality and connection between schools. That same day, the IPCA inaugurated the New Carral Access to the Campus from the circular road in the city of Barcelos. This access represents an important step in consolidating the IPCA campus, which now has more effective access.

The following year, on June 4, the José Mariano Gago Library is inaugurated. A library that was designed for more than ten years, during the visit of the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education at the time, José Mariano Gago, who referred to the Government’s commitment to the consolidation and affirmation of the IPCA. Also in 2018, the deed for the acquisition of the building where the Polo de Braga was signed was signed by the IPCA. As part of the IPCA Day, the Escola Superior de Tecnologia inaugurated its new facilities.

The following year, the IPCA arrived in the municipality of Vila Nova de Famalicão, more specifically at the former Didáxis facilities, in São Cosme. On the Campus, the Mechatronics Factory Lab (M.Factory Lab) starts operating, an industrial laboratory that will provide the best conditions for training in a practical context, in the areas of mechatronics, mechanics, robotics and industrial management.

In recent years, IPCA has invested heavily in its own modern facilities, providing a set of support services suitable for the proper functioning of the institution.

Welcome to an institution that is committed to teaching quality and excellence and to its affirmation in the national, European and international space.