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UT Austin|Portugal Program: second international partnership renewed

The memorandum of understanding that guarantees the continuity of the UT Austin|Portugal Program for the next five years was signed on November 5, 2012, representing an investment of 2 M€ per year, by the Foundation for Science and Technology(*).

Started in 2007, the UTAustin|Portugal Program has enabled collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin and universities and research centers in Portugal, focusing on three specific academic areas - Digital Media, Advanced Computing and Mathematics - as well as the creation of the business network for commercialization and internationalization of science and technology produced in Portugal - UTEN (University Technology Enterprise Network). In the last five years, the Program brought together more than 40 professors and researchers and 120 students from various Portuguese institutions, including universities, research centers and laboratories, who benefited from regular visits to the University of Texas at Austin, where they had the opportunity to study and deepen their doctoral projects.

The UTEN network will be a major focus for the second phase of this partnership. On the basis created by UTEN, a technology and knowledge transfer program of national scope will be developed, which aims to allow Portuguese companies to benefit from the results of research projects, and to contribute to the professionalization of the technology transfer activity.

The UTAustin|Portugal Program is particularly noteworthy for the effort to link the academic world and national companies, which the partnership has fostered. Through CoLab (International Collaboratory for Emerging Technologies) several initiatives have already been carried out in partnership with companies such as ZON (ZON Prize for Multimedia Creativity) and YDreams, resulting in added value for companies and for the Program community.

After the renewal of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, this is the second international partnership to ensure its continuity for another five years, revealing the commitment of the Ministry of Education and Science to support and follow up the work developed in these partnerships.

It is expected that the agreement for the renewal of the MIT-Portugal Program, also for five years, will be signed in 2012 and that the second phase of these three partnerships will start in January 2013. The first phase of the Fraunhoffer-Portugal program (with Germany) and the partnership with Harvard Medical School are still underway, with their renewals scheduled for 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Based on the evaluation conducted by the Academy of Finland, the second phase of the partnerships foresees a greater emphasis on joint research projects between universities/research centers and companies, directed at solving concrete problems and in which students and researchers participate. There will thus be a shift in focus from post-graduate training and the creation of critical mass, to a strengthening of innovation and entrepreneurship.

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