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US-Portugal Partnerships:UT Austin|Portugal international partnership renewed

The memorandum of understanding that ensures the continuity of the UT Austin|Portugal Programme for the next five years was signed on 5th November 2012, supported by an annual investment of €2M by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (*).

The UT Austin |Portugal Programme started in 2007 and enabled the collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin and universities and research centers in Portugal. Focusing on three academic areas – Digital Media, Advanced Computing and Mathematics – it also created a business network for the commercialization and internationalization of science and technology produced in Portugal – UTEN (University Technology Enterprise Network). Over the last five years, the Programme brought together over 40 university faculty and researchers as well as 120 students from Portuguese institutions (universities, research centers and laboratories), who benefited from regular visits to the University of Texas at Austin to study and develop their PhD projects further.

The UTEN is the main focus for the second phase of this partnership. Using the foundations already created by the UTEN, a nationwide Portuguese technology and knowledge transfer programme will be developed. Its aim is to support national companies to benefit from the results of research projects and to contribute to the professionalization of the activity of technology transfer. The UT Austin|Portugal Partnership stands out for its efforts in fostering links between academia and national companies. The CoLab (International Collaboratory for Emerging Technologies) developed initiatives in partnership with companies such as Zon (Prémio Zon Criatividade em Multimédia) and YDreams, which benefit both businesses as well as the programme community.

This is the second international FCT-funded partnership to be renewed for the next five years, after the renewal of the Carnegie Mellon-Portugal Programme, illustrating the commitment of the Portuguese Ministry for Education and Science to support and continue the work already developed by these Partnerships.

The agreement for the renewal of the MIT Portugal Programme for the next five years is also expected to take place in 2012, and the second phase of these partnerships will start in January 2013. The first phase of the Fraunhoffer-Portugal programme (with Germany) and the partnership with Harvard Medical School is still underway, with renewals planned for 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Following the recommendations of the report by the Academy of Finland, the second phase of these partnerships will see greater emphasis on joint research projects between universities, research centers and businesses, aimed at solving real-world problems, and involving students. This represents a change of focus from graduate training and development of critical mass, to enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship.

*The event was attended by the President of the FCT, Miguel Seabra, the National UT Austin|Portugal Programme Director, Nuno Correia, the Director of the University of Texas at Austin, Robert Peterson, as well as representatives of the Portuguese universities involved in this partnership.