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MIT – Portugal

The MIT – Portugal Program is centred on Engineering Systems, namely those concerning Design and Advanced Industrial Production Systems Engineering, Energy Systems, Transport Systems and Bio-engineering Systems.

This Programme was launched on 11th October 2006 in Lisbon after evaluation and preparatory work following the collaboration agreement signed by the Government and MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology in February 2006, encompassing areas in Engineering and Management for intervention.

In the Engineering area, collaboration with the MIT Engineering Systems Division is centred on four thematic areas: Design and Advanced Industrial Production Systems Engineering, Energy Systems, Transport Systems and Bio-engineering Systems. The collaboration involves scientific and technological cooperation in specific areas, beefing up the R&D capacity and post-graduate education at Portuguese institutions in the international context, and entrepreneurial development so as to exemplify a new dimension of education and research in engineering in Europe.

In the Management sphere, the collaboration is together with the Sloan School of Management and involves designing and preparing an international MBA Programme and a programme of PhD seminars to begin in 2006, entitled the Lisbon-Sloan Seminar Series in Management Science. These activities shall involve various Portuguese economics and management schools, including the Universidade Católica Portuguesa’s Economic and Business Sciences Faculty (FCEE/UCP), the Universidade Nova de Lisboa’s Economics and Management Faculty (FE/UNL), the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE) and the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa’s Higher Economics and Management Institute (ISEG/UTL).

The Universidade Nova de Lisboa’s Economics Faculty (FE/UNL), the Universidade Católica Portuguesa’s Economic and Business Sciences Faculty and the MIT Sloan School of Management commemorated the beginning of classes under the joint MBA programme to train top-level managers on 7 January 2009, which puts into practice the agreement. The beginning of classes under this programme, which is called The Lisbon MBA, is the culmination of a process of more than three years’ preparation and will be taught in Lisbon, with the active participation of the MIT Sloan School of Management, where students will enjoy immersion periods during training. The first class of this recently-started programme includes 32 students from 6 countries (Brazil, China, United States of America, France, India and Portugal). The programme intends to train more than 300 managers over the next 5 years. The foreign student quotient will gradually rise to roughly 50% of the total number of students from the 5th year of the programme, when an estimated 100 students will be admitted each year.  The institutions involved in The Lisbon MBA want to see it placed among the best 100 in the world within 5 years and thus give Portugal a leading position on the global MBA circuit.

The Engineering collaboration agreement involves 7 higher education institutions and 6 universities and the respective research centres and units for the thematic areas covered by the agreement, 6 Associate Laboratories and one State Laboratory.

A commitment agreement was also signed by the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and a group of 10 enterprises in the car sector based in Portugal, which reacted to the signature of the MIT – Portugal Program by making a commitment - the like of which had never been seen before in Portugal – to doubling their internal spending on R&D by the end of 2009, with the target of reaching an average 6% of total takings over the 2007-2013 period. Another of the targets to which these enterprises have signed up is the hiring of people with PhDs to mirror best international practice, providing 30 new contracts to holders of these degrees by the end of 2009, as well as 60 new contracts for specialists over the next 5 years, namely in the scope of the specialists to be trained under the MIT- Portugal Programme. They have also undertaken to stimulate the registering of international patents, guaranteeing that they shall quadruple numbers by 2009 in comparison with the figures registered internationally in 2005, and to double their involvement in R&D projects in the scope of the European R&D Framework Programme.

A further 8 enterprises, predominantly from the energy sector, have recently joined this programme.

In January 2010, the MIT – Portugal Program had already involved a total of 208 PhD students in joint programs involving several Portuguese Universities, in the areas of energy, transports, engineering design and bioengineering. These programs were supported by industry affiliates and encouraged the implementation of mobilizing programs of R&D of international scope in areas of recognized interest and potential, particularly in the areas of sustainable energy and transports, of the application of stem cells and tissue engineering in new regenerative medicine therapies, and in the development of new products for mobility and medical equipment systems.

The MIT – Portugal Program includes the development of specific graduate education initiatives with high international recognition and with an impact on advanced specialized training of top level professionals in Portugal. It also contributes to developing research clusters involving the largest companies operating in Portugal. In particular, the MIT – Portugal Program had already involved a total of 129 Executive Master students in the areas of sustainable energy and transports, and in product development and advanced production systems.

Also by January 2010, the MIT – Portugal Program already had involved 236 Portuguese faculty and 59 MIT faculty in research and education activities, and it had supported 140 MIT students with research grants, 23 contracts of researchers or professors, and 8 Post-Doctoral contracts.

At the 1st MIT – Portugal Program Annual Conference: "Engineering for Better Jobs" organized on July 7, 2009, a strategy for the MIT – Portugal Program was presented which resulted from the growing involvement of research centers and companies and had the aim of focusing the program on three main areas of application, namely: 

  • Sustainable energy and transports systems; 
  • Stem cells and tissue engineering for new regenerative medicine therapies; 
  • Product development and design engineering, with particular application in electric vehicles systems. 

The strategic reformulation of the MIT – Portugal Program, which had been discussed at the 6th Meeting of the MIT – Portugal Program Governing Council, on April 27, 2009, at the MIT, and appeared in writing in the strategy document “MIT – Portugal – A Strategy Reexamined”, aims at concentrating efforts to address the challenges that emerge from the present international crisis, through directed research and advanced industry-science relations with high potential to lead to comparative advantages for Portugal. These challenges call for new solutions and offer great opportunities for investment in knowledge, people and new competencies, as a lever for economic and social competitiveness.

The MIT – Portugal Program focuses on Engineering Systems, in which MIT is a world leader. So, this program provides a comparative advantage to Portugal in Europe in an emerging area of increasing importance in modern societies. The area of Engineering Systems considers complex systems, often large, combining technical, social and human interactions and taking into account the increasing interaction of social and economic aspects with engineering. Within this program, this area considers sustainable energy and transports systems, the development of new products including those associated with electric vehicles, and new medical therapies including those with stem cells and tissue engineering. All of these are areas of high potential employment growth in the coming decades, in particular of skilled employment, in which Portugal has to evolve and to differentiate in the European context.

The President of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) represents the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education on the MIT – Portugal Program Governing Committee, which is chaired by the President of the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and also involves from Portugal the Director of the MIT – Portugal Program in Portugal.

Last updated ( 24/10/2011 )