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Commitment to Science for Portugal’s Future

 - 29/03/2006

Logotipo da iniciativa Compromisso com a Ciência para o Futuro de PortugalOn 29 March 2006 the Government launched the Commitment to Science for Portugal’s Future initiative, through a speech by the Prime Minister in the Portuguese Parliament (text in Portuguese).

This initiative sets ambitious targets for 2009, and has adopted the following five major guidelines:

  • Investing in scientific knowledge and scientific and technical competence measurable at the highest international level.
  • Investing in Human Resources and Scientific and Technological Culture.
  • Investing in public and private R&D institutions, and consolidating these, their responsibilities, organisation and online infrastructures.
  • Investing in Internationalisation, Exigence and Evaluation.
  • Investing in Enhancing the Economic Value of Research.

Implementing this initiative involves beefing up the public S&T budget for 2007, increasing the public budget for competitive R&D funding, channelled through the FCT, GRICES and UMIC, with 254 million euros more than in 2006 (a 62% increase in the competitive funding of the S&T system by FCT, GRICES and UMIC from 2006 to 2007).

The specific measures involved in the initiative, which are contained in the document Commitment to Science for Portugal’s Future (text in Portuguese), include some of the following activities:

  • Launch of the first calls for tender for programme contracts with public or private scientific institutions in April 2006, with the objective of funding individual research work contracts through open competition and renowned international evaluation. The contracts-programme seeks to hire at least 1 000 PhDs by 2009 (text in Portuguese) and will be geared up towards increasing critical mass and creating new teams, as well as researcher mobility.
  • 60% increase in the number of new PhD and post-doctoral scholarships and five months' notice before the beginning of the scholarships from the competition launched in 2006.
  • Creation of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, based in Braga, as a benchmark international organisation sponsored by Spain and Portugal, yet open to other countries at a later date, with recruitment needs of 200 researchers to be recruited internationally.
  • Creation of 4 new Associated Laboratories in the fields of nanotechnology, energy and transport.
  • Setting up of an S&T network of international partnerships (text in Portuguese) on a large scale, taking in Higher Educational and research institutions, as well as companies working together with international scientific organisations, foreign universities and other benchmark global scientific and technology bodies. The first of these partnerships was the MIT – Portugal Programme, which was followed by partnership agreements with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Texas in Austin.
  • Reform of the State Laboratorie (text in Portuguese) based on the recommendations of an International Working Group: 5 State Laboratories were wound up or incorporated in other institutions; 2 were set up (National Energy and Geology Laboratory, National Biological Resources Laboratory); State Laboratory status was awarded to the Legal Medicine Institute; the implementation of the innovative R&D Consortium model was decided upon, as a private, not-for-profit body, linking State Laboratories, Associated Laboratories, companies and other national and foreign bodies, starting with the creation of 4 consortia (BIOPLIS for Biology and Biotechnology, Física-N for Nuclear Physics and High Energy and Distributed Computation, RISCOS for natural and environmental risk prevention and mitigation, OCEANO for Oceanography); the International Volcanology Centre was created in the Azores; a State Laboratory Promotion Programme was set up at the FCT, based on support for developing R&D centres and networks, their involvement in national and international partnerships and the competitive promotion of the most relevant R&D capabilities of each institution; an International Scientific and Technical Committee was set up to monitor the reforms.
  • The National GRID Initiative was launched on 28th April 2006 and included a call for tender for R&D projects and to demonstrate GRID computing, which was launched by the FCT in November 2006. This will be followed by a call for tender to improve infrastructures. Also of note was the launch of the Portugal-Spain GRID computing cooperation scheme, which was spearheaded at the Portugal-Spain Summit in November 2005 and which received a renewed boost at the 2006 Portugal-Spain Summit, in particular through the creation of the IBEROGRID network. The body responsible for carrying out the National GRID Initiative is the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) prepared the initiative’s programme framework, namely the document setting out its definition, and it plays an observation and monitoring role as regards the initiative’s development.

Calls for tender for Ciência Viva in Schools projects were carried out again, with roughly 900 projects approved in 2006. Approximately 700 student internships were conducted in research laboratories over the summer months in 2006. Thousands of Portuguese people were involved in Ciência Viva in the Summer over August and September, particularly in Astronomy, Biology, Geology, lighthouse visits and Engineering activities. The Ciência Viva Centres Network was updated and expanded to 13 Centres in various locations around the country. Another 5 are planned to open by the end of 2008. These activities are coordinated by the Ciência Viva – National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture (site in Portuguese).

Last updated ( 11/07/2011 )