The framework for research and development (R&D) policy in Portugal was laid out in the 'Portugal 2030 Strategy', a partnership agreement between Portugal and the European Commission. This strategy comprises four thematic agendas:
- People first: a better demographic balance, greater inclusion, less inequality
- Digitalisation, innovation and skills as drivers of development
- Climate transition and resources sustainability
- An externally competitive and internally cohesive country
The key document setting out research and innovation strategy in Portugal post-2020 is the Technological and Business Innovation Strategy 2018-2030. It aims to converge Portugal with the rest of Europe by increasing the competitiveness of the Portuguese economy through research, development and innovation. Another document published by the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education is the Higher Education, Research and Innovation in Portugal Perspectives for 2030.
The two bodies within the government responsible for R&D policy are the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) and the Ministry for the Economy (ME). They are responsible for most funding streams and horizontal policies.
- The Ministry of the Economy designs, implements, executes and evaluates the policies regarding: competitivity; innovation; the internalisation of enterprises and the promotion of foreign trade; the promotion and attraction of foreign investment; tourism; consumer protection; public works; transport and communications.
- The key activities of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education consist in: the design and preparation of policy measures in the areas of science and technology; the promotion of the development, qualification, competitiveness and international evaluation of the S&T system; the organisation of S&T activities in the key domains of the international cooperation by promoting the diffusion of knowledge and technologies; participating in the international organisations; and contributing to the definition of EU S&T policy.
The National Innovation Agency (ANI) is a state-owned agency funded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education and the Ministry of Economy and Innovation. The ANI develops and coordinates activities to support technological and business innovation in Portugal, such as fiscal and financial incentives programmes, contributing to the consolidation of the National Innovation System (NIS).
The responsibility of defining, managing and implementing nationaltransport policies is held by the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. It is supported by the Ministry for the Environment and Energy Transition, the Ministry of the Sea and the Institute for Mobility and Transport which each inform the Ministry in their respective areas. By preparing sectoral documents and consulting the MCTES and ME, the Ministry contributes to setting transport research priorities.
The instruments of financing Portuguese research and development activities are:
- Research grants;
- Core and strategic funding schemes for R&D institutions;
- Re-equipment schemes and support for setting up and maintaining a national roadmap of research infrastructures;
- Access to international funding and network schemes;
- Private funding.
The Foundation of Science and Technology (FCT) is the main research funding agency for Portuguese research. It is a public organisation with administrative and financial autonomy, under the aegis of the MCTES. It is responsible for institutional and personal research funding in Portugal and for ensuring international partnerships under the ‘GoPortugal – Global Science and Technology Partnerships’ initiative. Funding is structured around the promotion of training and career development, the promotional of the institutional base in higher education and private non-profit sectors, the support to infrastructures, and the promotion and development of scientific activity.
Transport research is mainly funded by the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education through the Foundation for Science and Technology. The Ministry for Housing and Infrastructure also allocates funds, but to a lesser extent. Other public funding is provided for priority research topics and through national and regional programmes. International funding is provided by the European Union.
The main advisory body for research policy is the Higher Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSCTI), composed of representatives of the leading stakeholders of the system, including the Private Sector. Some universities are starting to set up Strategic or Social Councils, including the participation of different stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors.
An independent agency, Ciência Viva, implements programmes for the public awareness of science (largely through a contract delegating public responsibility to this agency). The association Ciência Viva has the participation of several private independent research organisations as well as FCT and AdI.
A network of Technological Centres (RECET) gathers a number of interface technology centres, mostly oriented towards the traditionally specialised sectors of the Portuguese economy. These technology centres have a very important sectoral role and are developed in partnership with the respective industrial associations
A Network of Offices for the Promotion of Industrial Property (GAPIs) was set up in partnership between INPI (National Institute for Industrial Property), Public and Private Sector research organisations (such as industrial associations or technology parks) to promote the use of industrial property, namely patenting, and to exploit research outcomes.
Current ongoing funding programmes include:
- Scientific Community Support Fund (FACC) - The scientific community and institutions in Portugal provide funding for select projects
- "Accessibility and Transport" Operational Programme (POAT) - Falls within the 3rd Portuguese Community Support Framework and focuses on enhancing the quality and efficiency of the transport system and to lessen the disparities between the coastal and inner regions.
- Recovery and Resilience Facility - The Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan is a national application programme, with an execution period until 2026, which will implement a set of reforms and investments that will enable the country to resume sustained economic growth, reinforcing the goal of convergence with Europe over the next decade.