SCIENCE AND INNOVATION IN 2014 (Correio do Minho)

The year 2014 was a starting point for new cycles supporting the activity of research and innovation: such as European, national, and regional funding programs as well as the evaluation process of the Portuguese research centers (which determine the provided funding).


OPINION | Vasco Teixeira *

The Portuguese National Funding Agency for Science, Research and Technology evaluated the research centers, a process with some controversy and heavily criticized, and the results were released in the end of the year: 11 centers were classified as Outstanding (the highest rating introduced in this evaluation process) and 52 with Excellent. Together, the evaluations of these 63 centers will translate into a funding of 47 million euros per year for operating expenses and strategic activities of R&D.

The evaluation process was object of several critics from the researchers, research centers directors and even the rectors. The 15 rectors of CRUP unveiled a consensus position, taken in October (before knowing the overall results of the evaluations) by sending a letter from CRUP to the Minister of Education and Science. In this letter to Nuno Crato they say that it is no longer possible to give the "benefit of the doubt" to the current evaluation process. Throughout the text the following can be read: "Despite being called attention to a number of evaluation errors, many entirely factual, several panels apologized in many ways not to draw consequences from it, keeping unexplained reviews. The non-presence evaluation to research units is, in our view an absolute failure. This evaluation process does not have the necessary quality. It is a missed opportunity for a national policy that promotes advanced knowledge and its resulting in a serious loss of confidence in the evaluation system, with almost total disregard for the opinions of the universities. "In 2014, Carlos Moedas was nominated European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, a strategic folder of the European Commission. Carlos Moedas will be responsible for the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation - Horizon 2020, the largest funding program for science and innovation worldwide and the third largest EU program, which started in 2014 and will run until 2020. One of the goals for his folder is to find policies to encourage the SMBs to invest in science and innovation. He also points as his priority the consolidation of the European Research Area

The Portugal 2020 will be part of the European Structural Funds from the EU between 2014 and 2020. In the last days of December the applications for support funds to the SMBs were open.

Many projects were developed in 2014, but it should be noted an R&D project of reference considered for being of national strategic interest and that foresees an investment of approximately 19 million by 2015. It is between Bosch Car Multimedia Portugal and the University of Minho and aims to the development and production of the future mobility concept in the automotive sector.

Highlighting some awards and distinctions for Science and Innovation in 2014:

The invention of the blue LED assigned the Nobel Prize for Physics 2014- to 3 Japanese scientists: Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano, University of Nagoya, Japan, and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California at Santa Barbara, USA.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Eric Betzig, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (USA), Stefan Hell of the Max Planck Institute (Germany), and William Moerner, of Stanford University (USA), for the development of the microscopy of super-resolution by fluorescence

The prize Antonio Champalimaud de Visão 2014 distinguished a group of 7 scientists from American universities for their role in the development of an effective therapy for the treatment of two major causes of vision loss and blindness in the world - the macular degeneration related with age and diabetic retinopathy.

Henrique Leitão doctorate in physics and professor at the University of Lisbon received the Pessoa Prize in 2014 distinguished himself in the dissemination of the history of science.

Pedro Raposo was selected as the next trustee of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the most important planetary in the United States of America.

The Fulbright Program was the winner of the Prince of Asturias prize of International Cooperation in 2014, recognizing the great value of the educational and cultural exchange, the increase and strengthening of relations and mutual understanding between the citizens of the world. Rui Costa, researcher of the Champalimaud Foundation, won the Prize Louis-Jeantet - Young Investigator Career Award which seeks to promote the best young talent in Europe in the field of biomedical research.

Rui Costa was honored for his work in the field of neuroscience, in particular, about the difficulties of learning.

Alexandre Madeira, HAS-Lab researcher, research center of the University of Minho associated with INESC TEC, was the winner of the IBM Portugal Scientific Award , with the thesis "Hybridization Logic: a generic approach to software reconfigurability" defended at the University of Minho.

The Blue Stain kit that allows early diagnosis of cancer and was developed by the Targetalent company, won the 16th Young Entrepreneur Prize awarded by ANJE. ANJE distinguished with an Honorable Mention Peekmed, which presents a technological solution for planning and 3D preview of orthopedic surgery. The Peekmed was founded by three students of the master in medical informatics from UMinho.

* Teacher and researcher at the University of Minho

Correio do Minho, January 3, 2015