Portugal - Economy - Science and Technology

Science and Technology

Scientific and technological research activities in Portugal are mainly conducted within a network of R&D units belonging to public universities and state-managed autonomous research institutions like the INETI – Instituto Nacional de Engenharia, Tecnologia e Inovação and the INRB – Instituto Nacional dos Recursos Biológicos. The funding and management of this research system is mainly conducted under the authority of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) itself and the MCTES's Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). The largest R&D units of the public universities by volume of research grants and peer-reviewed publications, include biosciences research institutions like the Instituto de Medicina Molecular, the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, the IPATIMUP, the Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular and the Abel Salazar Biomedical Sciences Institute.

Among the largest non-state-run research institutions in Portugal are the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência and the Champalimaud Foundation, a neuroscience and oncology research centre, which in addition awards every year one of the highest monetary prizes of any science prize in the world. A number of both national and multinational high-tech and industrial companies, are also responsible for research and development projects. One of the oldest learned societies of Portugal is the Sciences Academy of Lisbon, founded in 1779.

Iberian bilateral state-supported research efforts include the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory and the Ibercivis distributed computing platform, which are joint research programmes of both Portugal and Spain. Portugal is a member of several pan-European scientific organizations. These include the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), ITER, and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Portugal has the largest aquarium in Europe, the Lisbon Oceanarium, and the Portuguese have several other notable organizations focused on science-related exhibits and divulgation, like the state agency Ciência Viva, a programme of the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Technology to the promotion of a scientific and technological culture among the Portuguese population, the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, the National Museum of Natural History at the University of Lisbon, and the Visionarium.

With the emergence and growth of several science parks throughout the world that helped create many thousands of scientific, technological and knowledge-based businesses, Portugal started to develop several science parks across the country. These include the Taguspark (in Oeiras), the Coimbra iParque (in Coimbra), the biocant (in Cantanhede), the Madeira Tecnopolo (in Funchal), Sines Tecnopolo (in Sines), Tecmaia (in Maia) and Parkurbis (in Covilhã). Companies locate in the Portuguese science parks to take advantage of a variety of services ranging from financial and legal advice through to marketing and technological support.

Egas Moniz, a Portuguese physician who developed the cerebral angiography and leucotomy, received in 1949 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – he is the first Portuguese recipient of a Nobel Prize and the only in the sciences.

The European Innovation Scoreboard 2011, placed Portugal-based innovation in the 15th position, with an impressive increase in innovation expenditure and output.

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