The MIT Portugal Program was launched in October 2006, and renewed in 2013, by the Portuguese Government to strengthen the country's knowledge base and international competitiveness through a strategic investment in people, knowledge and ideas. Government funding to MIT and partner Portuguese institutions supports this unique collaboration.
The program is a high-profile effort to demonstrate that an investment in science, technology and higher education can have a positive, lasting impact on the economy by addressing key societal issues through quality education and research in the emerging field of engineering systems.
As the intellectual foundation for the program, engineering systems integrates management sciences, economics, and policy in order to better understand, design, and implement the highly complex, technology-based systems on which society is increasingly dependent.
The program is supported by a national initiative involving five Portuguese universities and more than a dozen research centers that has targeted sustainable energy systems, transportation systems, Bioengineering systems and advanced manufacturing as key areas for economic development and societal impact.
In addition to these four focus areas, an anchor program includes projects to address fundamental research in engineering systems as well as flagship projects that integrate research across several of the focus areas.
The objectives, framework and structure of the collaboration were developed during a five month assessment study conducted by MIT between February and July 2006, which concluded that the excellence of the research identified in Portuguese research centers throughout the assessment exercise recommends that MIT foster collaborations with Portuguese institutions. Also, the study acknowledges that the commitment of the Portuguese Government in strengthening science and technology and in promoting international collaborations in higher education and in science and technology is making Portugal an interesting place for doing research and a relevant partner for future collaborations in the emerging knowledge-based, globalized economy.
The assessment involved extensive discussions and preliminary planning by faculty at MIT and in Portugal to determine the principle focus areas of investigation as well as key institutional, operational, financial and technical issues, and has resulted in two main foci for collaborative agreements. These are:
- a formal, ongoing cooperative arrangement in the area of management sciences which will be explored in a program design and planning process concerning a possible multi-year collaboration around management education and technology-based entrepreneurship; and
- a five-year agreement for research and education with an engineering systems focus, responding to the increasing size, scope and complexity of systems in today's global competitive environment.