Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) main page.

Note for navigation with support technologies: in this page you find 3 main elements: search engine (shortcut key 1); the highlights at the main area of the page (shortcut key 2) e main menu (shortcut key 3).

Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)
Home  > Knowledge Networks  > News  > 6th Meeting of the MIT - Portugal Program Government Committee

6th Meeting of the MIT - Portugal Program Government Committee

 - 27/04/2009

MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology logo

The Board of Directors of the MIT – Portugal Program met on 27 April 2009, at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, for the 6th time since this Program was started around two and a half years ago, on 11 October 2006, under the scope of the Partnerships for the Future actions integrated within the Commitment to Science for Portugal’s Future initiative.

The Board of Directors of the MIT – Portugal Program is headed by the President of Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), João Sentieiro, and also includes the Chancellor of MIT, Phillip Clay, the Deanof MIT’s School of Engineering, Subra Suresh, the President of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), Luis Magalhães, and the directors of the Program at MIT and in Portugal, Daniel Roos and Paulo Ferrão, respectively.

The meeting of the Board of Directors also included, for part of its workings, the President of the External Evaluation Committee of the MIT - Portugal Program, Henk Sol, and the two executive directors of the various areas of the Program in Portugal (Paulo Ferrão, Joaquim Sampaio Cabral, António Cunha; José Manuel Viegas (site in Portuguese) could not take part but attended a working meeting strategically revising the Program which had taken place on the previous day) and members of MIT (David Marks, Dava Neuman, Joel Clark, Joseph Sussman).

The main aims of the meeting were to consider the progress report submitted by the Program Directors, to discuss and to approve the general guidelines and strategic revision of the Program, to approve the budget for the 3rd year of the Program, approve the regulations concerning Awards for Innovation in Education aimed at distinguishing professors highlighted by postgraduate students of the Program, to ratify the association to the Program of the companies SGC Energia and EDA – Electricidade dos Açores, ratify a Protocol for the Program with the Regional Government of the Azores and the University of the Azores regarding the project “Green Islands”.

A working meeting on the strategic revision of the MIT – Portugal Program took place on 26 April 2009 at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education from Portugal also announced their intention, on 27 April 2009, to reinforce the joint research Program started in 2006, with a view to maintaining and extending it to the areas of urban and regional energy sustainable systems, stem cells for regenerative medicine and the development of design engineering products.

The aim of reformulating the strategic plan for the MIT – Portugal Program was to meet emerging challenges to counteract the international crisis, through targeted research and advanced relations involving science and industry with potential to promote competitive advantages for Portugal and for MIT. The new diversified solutions will however share common aspects, given that they will be within the scope of the architecture of engineering systems dealing with complexity, uncertainty and emerging factors.

The terms of the agreement were confirmed between the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education for Portugal,  José Mariano Gago, the Chancellor of MIT, Phillip Clay, and the Director of the School of Engineering, Subra Suresh, during a meeting which took place at MIT before the meeting of the Governing Committee of the MIT – Portugal Program in which the Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and the Portuguese Consul in Boston, Manuela Barrios, were present. Both of these events resulted from the full discussion which had taken place in recent months between Portugal and MIT, permanently in contact with the industrial sector in Portugal and with the External Evaluation Committee of the MIT- Portugal Program, with a view to a significant expansion of research and training in engineering systems in many top Portuguese universities working in collaboration with MIT.

According to the Director of the MIT School of Engineering, Subra Suresh, the MIT – Portugal Program has allowed us to not only advance with the setting up of important teaching and research Programs, but also nurtured the development of plans to widen collaboration in future years. “The partnership has become more important now, given the global economic slowdown”, he added.

“The MIT - Portugal Program is the largest that the North-American institution is developing in Europe”, said the MIT Chancellor, Phillip Clay. We are satisfied with the results of the first two years of collaboration. We have developed seven new advanced training Programs, started joint research, Portuguese universities are working with MIT, there are Portuguese students at MIT, and new university-industry relations have been encouraged in Portugal. “We are going to continue building on this success with a renewed strategy, looking at promising research areas”, he emphasised.

After a successful two-and-a-half year experience, the MIT – Portugal Program has nurtured consortia between the main Portuguese engineering schools and laboratories and MIT research groups focused on strategic objectives such as:

  • The adoption of a holistic vision in the planning and modelling of energy systems should increase by 100% the penetration of renewable energies for the production of electricity in the short term, and in this way reducing dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. These objectives can be seen through the project “Green Islands” in the Azores, which seeks to demonstrate high levels of renewable energy penetration, using intelligent energy networks, suitable transport systems, energy efficiency schemes in buildings, management technologies based on active demand, as well as active integration of network management in electrical vehicles.
  • Innovative cellular therapies which have been trialled in the Portuguese Oncology Institute (IPO) Francisco Gentil Lisbon, since October 2007, and which have enabled a clear improvement in the quality and extension of life of the patients. We estimate that this research in stem cell biology and bio-processing will lead to an increase in our basic knowledge of stem cells and their potential uses, along with the specification of clinical technologies for controlled expansion and/or differentiation of the populations of adult stem cells.
  • The provision of new research competencies and capacities for the strategy in Portugal with the aim of leading niche markets for industries involved with movement in the next 5 years, with particular emphasis on electrical vehicles designed for urban environments, as well as facilitating the use of new structural and polymer materials in niche markets based on cars for residents which have low CO2 emissions and related systems.

The Program will reinforce research and teaching in various key areas of strategic importance, both for MIT and for Portugal. In the area of sustainable energy systems emphasis will be given to their integration into energy networks as well as in the energy economy and in industrial ecology. A new international company set up in Portugal, SGC Energy, will join in this effort under the scope of the Program for industrial partnership, and foster new research activities in bio-energy.

In the area of transportation systems the main focus will continue to be the design of large-scale complex transportation systems with a key social impact and which provide an opportunity for sustainable economic development throughout the country, with emphasis on high speed rail networks and the implementation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

Leveraging the PhD Program in bio-engineering is aimed at training a new generation of leaders in Portugal in innovative bio-engineering techniques, and considering the growing international relevance of research into stem cells, the reformulation of the MIT-Portugal Program seeks to endow the country with comparative advantages in the field of new medical developments, including innovative cellular therapies, tissue engineering for regenerative medicine, and in advanced medical devices, areas which can expect business opportunities related to improvement in the quality of life of the more senior citizens.

In the area of Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing (EDAM), the MIT – Portugal Program is centred on the adoption of new process and systems for the development of environmentally-friendly products, and with the potential for a sustainable automobile industry, in considering the market niche in urban resident cars with low C02 emissions and related systems.

Further information can be obtained at MIT – Portugal Program website .

Last updated ( 25/08/2011 )