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Monitoring strategic priorities in Research and Innovation: the ocean as a case study

The Portuguese Strategy for Smart Specialisation is a cornerstone of Portugal 2020 – the Partnership Agreement between Portugal and the European Commission for the use of Structural Funds within the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financing Framework. The 15 priority areas established in the Strategy underpin the policy and funding decisions in Research and Innovation (R&I) in Portugal, over the next five years.

FCT is the Coordinator of the working group that has been set up to identify scientific output indicators that may allow the new priority areas to be monitored during the lifetime of the Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy. The objective of this project is to build a powerful management and policy tool that may be used to inform R&I policy decisions, both in the near and mid-term future.

The working group aims to coordinate and maximise efforts and expertise, bringing together technical staff and researchers from the FCT Office for Studies and Strategy, the General Directorate for Science and Education Statistics (DGEEC), the General Directorate for Ocean Policy (DGPM), the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, of the University of Lisbon and the Institut Francilien Recherche Innovation Societé (IFRIS), in France.

Faced with a complex problem, made up of several dimensions (knowledge, innovation, economy), the group has decided to start focusing on a single dimension from which to extract indicators: academic knowledge production. Furthermore, in order to develop and mature the methodological approach, they have selected the ocean economy priority as the first pilot case study, from which to replicate the methodology to the other priorities in the Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy. They will be looking for answers to questions such as: Which are the Portuguese ocean sciences knowledge clusters? Who are the main actors? How do they collaborate, both within Portugal and internationally?

The team has compiled preliminary cluster maps of the ocean sciences in Portugal, by co-occurrences of keywords provided by marine/maritime experts (e.g., coastal areas, deep sea, offshore, seabed), by topic, by city, by institution. These findings were presented to researchers from several Portuguese ocean sciences centres at a workshop held in July, for feedback from the research community, namely validation and suggestions for improvements. The researchers welcomed the work being carried out, recognising its value in creating a scientifically robust basis for future policy decisions. Several suggestions regarding keywords to be included in the query of the database were made, all of which the team welcomed, with a view to refining the query, so as to most accurately capture the panorama of ocean sciences clusters in Portugal.