The MIT Portugal Programme, an FCT initiative, is a strategic partnership between Portuguese Universities and Research Centers, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) and partners from industry and government.
Launched by the Portuguese Government in 2006, and renewed in 2013, its goal is to strengthen the country’s knowledge base and international competitiveness through a strategic investment in people, knowledge and ideas in innovative technology sectors.
MIT Portugal aims to create a vibrant, interactive and sustainable collaborative platform that educates future leaders in science, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation of technological systems.
At a research level, MIT Portugal is a platform to deliver world-class research in engineering systems through demonstrations in unique, integrated test-beds, fostering university-industry partnerships, contributing towards the innovation and development of emerging concepts associated with the design, testing, and implementation of new products and systems for global markets.
The MIT-Portugal Program Collaboration is based on a contractual arrangement between MIT and the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT).
The program has targeted Bioengineering Systems, Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing, Sustainable Energy Systems, and Transportation Systems as key areas for economic development and societal impact.
FCT will include a Director of the MIT Portugal Programme who reports to the FCT President and who will direct all of the activities that FCT agrees to undertake and/or support with MIT. The Portugal Programme at MIT will be led by an MIT faculty member who serves as "Director" and will typically hold an appointment in the Engineering Systems Division, which is serving as the lead unit at MIT.
The programme governance structure includes a Programme Governing Committee responsible for policy oversight with respect to overall objectives of the relationship as well as approval of the annual plan and budget allocation for the proposed activities in the annual plan; a Programme Operating Committee responsible for developing and initially approving annual plans in the focus areas; and an External Review Committee which will review and comment on the Annual Plan, and evaluate the Programme based on the specified Programme objectives.
The Programme Governing Committee and Programme Operating Committee will, simultaneously with their respective review and approval of MIT’s annual plan, apply the same review and approval process to the annual plan of each Portuguese institution that is committing to collaborate with MIT on a project or programme.
There have been two rounds of Calls for Proposals (2008 and 2009)
The 2008 open call was designed to finance scientific and technological research projects oriented toward specific themes within the Program’s four research application areas: Bioengineering Systems, Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing, Sustainable Enegy Systems, and Transportation Systems. Each research consortium was to include at least two Portuguese research centers, with the support of a company and a research team at MIT. This first competition did not include specific funding at MIT, and all applications were expected to adhere to the terms of reference developed within each thematic area.
The 2009 open call had as an underlying theme the application of the Engineering Systems approach to activities and processes of high technological intensity, and with strong economic and social relevance. Each project had to be developed in a network, involving collaboration among teams from different units of the National Science and Technology System, units of MIT, and companies or other non-academic institutions. This announcement was also open to all MIT faculty, whose participation in projects was supported by funds of the MIT Portugal Program at MIT. The call was open for projects on four research areas: Sustainable Energy and Transportation Systems, Stem Cell Engineering for Regenerative Medicine, Materials and Design Inspired Products, and Fundamentals of Engineering Systems.
Each research project had a maximum total financing from the Science and Technology Foundation of 200,000 Euros for the Portuguese institutions, and a maximum duration of 36 months.
For the four years, starting in January 2014, the MIT Portugal Programme will award, through FCT, 10 fellowships in each of the PhD Programs (Bioengineering, Leaders for Technical Industries, Sustainable Energy Systems and Transportation Systems).