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National Programme for Scientific Equipment Renewal

History

The National Programme for Scientific Equipment Renewal (PNRC) was launched by FCT with the objective of renewing the national research infrastructure, by financing the expansion, updating and acquisition of scientific equipment. A public call for applications was open from December 10, 2001 to April 3, 2002. At the end of this period, 421 valid applications had been received, involving 5,343 different apparatuses, totaling 308.3 M€. The evaluation process was concluded in 2004, and applications were evaluated, in all scientific areas, by panels composed almost exclusively by foreign experts or portuguese experts residing abroad. The reports produced by the evaluation panels were analysed by the FCT Board, assisted by the Presidents of its Scientific Councils.

The distribution per scientific area of these applications, the financing and number of full-time equivalent researchers (FTERs) involved in them, and other relevant information, are indicated in Table 1.

Table 1. Applications, FTERs and funding per scientific area*
Scientific domain Number of applications Number of applications approved Number of FTERs (with PhD) involved Funding
Requested (k€) Awarded (k€) Awarded / requested (%)
Mathematics 2 0 16 1,295.60 0.00 0.00
Physics 31 18 466 26,191.50 6,391.39 24.40
Chemistry 38 21 763 22,745.40 6,127.31 26.94
Biological Sciences 53 29 850 39,109.50 9,767.09 24.97
Earth and Space Sciences 24 12 409 31,026.80 3,432.59 11.06
Marine Sciences 11 7 263 23,994.30 9,194.51 38,32
Agricultural Sciences 32 14 287 12,364.70 2,328.50 18.83
Health Sciences 51 15 619 34,827.50 7,036.40 20.20
Civil Engineering 28 11 278 20,263.20 4,412.49 21.78
Mechanical Engineering 30 15 383 17,049.30 2,936.87 17.23
Materials Science and Engineering 37 25 680 33,833.70 9,360.02 27.66
Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology 18 13 313 14,430.30 3,758.30 26.04
Electrical and Computer Engineering 37 22 352 18,626.50 4,799.62 25.77
Economics and Management 4 2 38 1,561.10 349.97 22.42
Sociology, Anthropology, Demography and Geography 5 2 135 5,525.50 850.00 15.38
Educational Sciences 3 0 24 611.20 0.00 0.00
Psychology 7 2 33 1,727.00 305.10 17.67
Linguistics 2 1 12 522.60 120.00 22.96
Art and Architecture 4 2 33 1,751.70 397.99 22.72
Philosophy 1 1 4 182.10 100.00 54.91
History 3 2 23 621.40 322.75 51.94
TOTAL 421 214 5981 308,260.90 71,990.90 23.35

The rules of the PNRC prescribed the sharing amongst national institutions of expensive, large-scale equipment, to be used, in an articulated manner, by the scientific community. In accordance, a significant number of these equipments were incorporated in National Networks, abiding by specific contractual, usage and monitoring conditions. Based on the recommendations of the evaluation panels and the needs and capabilities of national institutions, six National Networks of Scientific Equipment were defined, namely, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Mass Spectrometry, Electron Microscopy, Advanced Computing, Functional Brain Imaging and Geophysics.

The location and characteristics of the equipment to be purchased was decided with the scientists responsible for these Networks. A global financing of 19.8 M€ was allocated to them. The distribution of this funding amongst the institutions that integrated each Network, and the corresponding management and monitoring models, were decided in the same way.

The great majority of the final contracts with the different institutions were celebrated by December 2005.

Globally, taking into account both the contracts corresponding to individual applications (214), and those corresponding to the Networks (27), 91.8 M€ were granted by FCT through this programme, corresponding to 30% of the total funding requested by all institutions that took part in the PNRC public call. The funding support of FCT was exclusively devoted to direct costs of equipment acquisition. The institutions where the equipment was located were responsible for a level of co-funding of about 10% of the overall cost. This co-funding was essentially to pay the installation, calibration and maintenance of the equipment.

The approved funding had the following sources: 59.1% was co-financed by FEDER European Community funds through POCI 2010 - Operational Programme for Science and Innovation 2010 (the average rate of FEDER funding was 53.8% with the remainder being supported by national funding) and 40.9% was financed entirely from national funds (OE) through Project PIDDAC "Reequipamento Científico".

The implementation of PNRC lasted until the end of 2011, having been completed, the final report validated and approved by the FCT, 241 projects that correspond to 100% of funded projects, 97% of total global investment and 96.9% of predicted maximum total funding allocated.

The regional distribution of funding awarded to 241 projects completed (Chart A) is as follows: Norte (25.9%), Centro (21.7%), Lisboa e Vale do Tejo (37.6%), Alentejo (0,9%), Algarve (2%), Madeira (0.4%), Açores (0.2%) and Not- included in a Region (11.4%).

Regarding the distribution of funding by scientific area (Chart B), 70% is divided between the following areas: Biological Sciences (11%), Materials Science and Engineering (11%), Marine Sciences (9%), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance National Network (7%), Chemistry (7%), Physics (7%), Health Sciences (8%), Electronics and Computer Engineering (5%) and Civil Engineering (5%), while the remaining areas recorded values below 5% of the total.

The relevant information about funded projects and purchased equipment available for use by the scientific community can be found in the database created for this purpose.