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Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)
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Research Institutions

Since 1996, the R&D centres and institutes of all knowledge areas in Portugal based in Higher Education institutions or private nonprofit associations are periodically subjected to international evaluations under the responsibility of the FCT – Science and Technology Foundation.

Legally, the State can grant the status of “Associate Laboratory” to institutions of high scientific and technological merit recognised as important players in national science and technology policy. Associate Laboratories sign special contracts with the FCT, committing them to follow a medium-term strategy in a few strategic areas of thrust, to adopt appropriate organisation and management structures, and to follow special human resources recruitment and training policies, for which they receive additional programatic funding from the FCT.

There are 4 Associate Laboratories in ICT, which are institutions of excellence that jointly have about 1,000 researchers, of whom more than 400 hold PhDs: INESC Porto – Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering of Porto (site in Portuguese); Laboratory of Systems and Robotics in Engineering and Science, formerly ISR Lisboa – Systems and Robotics Institute of Lisbon; Institute of Telecommunication and INESC ID – Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering: Research and Development in Lisbon.

Additionally, 13 other research units in ICT at other Portuguese institutions were classified as Excellent or Very Good in the last international assessment (conducted in 2007-2008), which jointly also have about 1,000 researchers, of whom more than 400 hold PhDs: Centro ALGORITMI; CEOT – Electronics, Optoelectronics and Telecommunications Centre, U. Algarve; CISUC – Informatics and Systems Centre, U. Coimbra; CITI – Informatics and Information Technologies Centre, U. Nova de Lisboa; CENTRIA – Artificial Intelligence Centrel, U. Nova de Lisboa; CISTER – Research Centre for Reliable Real Time Systems, I.P. Porto; GECAD – Knowledge and Decision Making Support Engineering Research Group, I.P. Porto; IEETA – Aveiro Electronic and Telematic Engineering Institute, U. Aveiro; INESC Coimbra – Coimbra Systems and Computers Institute; ISR Coimbra – Systems and Robotics Institute, Coimbra; ISR Porto – Systems and Robotics Institute, Porto; LIACC – Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Laboratory, U. Porto; LASIGE – Large Scale Informatics Systems Laboratory, U. Lisboa.

On the 16th of November 2006, the State awarded the status of Associate Laboratory to two groups of institutions with activities in the Nanotechnology:

On December 17, 2008, the Results of the International Assessment of Research Units 2007 carried out by FCT –Science and Technology Foundation were published. The process of international evaluation of research units in Portugal, initiated in 1996 and repeated in 1999-2000 and 2002-2004, follows international standards and examines, in particular, the best research works selected by each R&D unit, in order to focus on analysis of the scientific activities by independent experts, rather than mere quantitative indicators.

The distribution of institutions by classification levels, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor, became, respectively, 21%, 38%, 25%, 15% and 2% (compared with 21% 31%, 27%, 13%, 8% in 2003). The average number of doctoral researchers per unit increased substantially (in 2003 only 20% of the research units had more than 20 doctoral researchers, and in 2007 these units accounted for more than 50% of all the research units). The support of FCT was withdrawn from the research units ranked Fair or Poor and it was increased for the research units ranked Excellent and very Good. Besides, 46 new research units were approved from a total of 88 new proposals received, distributed by classification levels as follows: 9% Excellent, 42% Very Good, 49% Good.

The assessment was based on reports from 23 panels of international experts who evaluated and visited all the research units in 2007 and 2008. The process involved more than 250 experts from more than 15 countries, and the results included the classification assigned to each research unit and a separate report for each research unit with specific qualitative assessments.

In the 332 institutions that were reviewed worked 20,307 researchers, of which 8,759 PhDs. The system of regular (every 3 to 4 years since 1996) international and independent evaluation of all Portuguese scientific institutions has been decisive for Portugal, with the R&D activities in Portugal with the largest Growth in EU countries as indicated by the recently published results of the IPCTN 2007 – Survey of the National Scientific Potential 2007.

On February 3, 2009, the FCT –Science and Technology Foundation and the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) issued a Call for Pre-Proposals for Setting Up and Operating R&D Consortia, as outlined in Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 124/2006, of October 3 (text in Portuguese), on the Reform of National Laboratories. The creation of R&D consortia involves supporting the development of competitive R&D clusters and networks, their involvement in national and international partnerships and the mobilizing of their R&D capacity. The creation of R&D consortia aims at the modernization of the scientific and technological system, contributing to the Reform of National Laboratories, strengthening their cooperation with Associate Laboratories, other R&D units approved in the international assessments promoted by the FCT, Higher Education Institutions, enterprises and other public or private, domestic or foreign, institutions. Each consortium must allow the efficient build up of critical mass, with the necessary flexibility and adaptability to enhance synergies of human and material resources in diverse areas for public interest objectives. In the mentioned Resolution of the Council of Ministers the following consortia were explicitly listed, subject to consideration of other possible areas: Biosciences and Biotechnologies, with emphasis on applications to agriculture, forestry and fisheries (Biopolis), Nuclear Physics and Advanced Computing (Physics-N ) Public Risk (RISKS), Oceanography and Marine Sciences and Technologies (ocean); Space Sciences and Technologies (SPACE); Promotion of the Portuguese participation in European R&D Security Policy (Security).

The President of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), Luis Magalhães, and the President of the International Working Group on the Reform of National Laboratories established by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 198/2005 of December 28 (text in Portuguese), Jean-Pierre Contzen, visited the National Laboratories where they had preparatory meetings with the laboratories leadership for guiding the preparation of proposals to be presented. During the period of preparation of proposals, the President of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) met several times with representatives of National Laboratories and Associate Laboratories, at the request of their leadership, for clarification and advice on strategic aspects of the preparation of proposals, particularly with IICT – Institute for Tropical Scientific Research, IMM – Institute of Molecular Medicine, INRB – Institute of National Biological Resources, INSA – National Health Institute Ricardo Jorge, ITN – Technology and Nuclear Institute, and IPFN – Institute of Plasma and Nuclear Fusion, ITQB – Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology, LIP – Laboratory of Instrumentation and Experimental Particle Physics.

The evaluation of applications was done by the International Working Group on the Reform of National Laboratories. The President of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) met with this IP Group in evaluation meetings held in Lisbon.

Last updated ( 24/10/2011 )