MPP has built a knowledge integration network that ties its education and research activities directly to a community of innovation stakeholders such as companies, hospitals, or venture capitalists. MPP has gathered a network of more than 50 national and international industry affiliates, including Continental, Energias de Portugal (EDP), Galp Energia, Rolls Royce, Siemens, Unicer – Bebidas de Portugal, and VW Autoeuropa. All curricula implemented by MPP were strongly geared towards specific industry needs with the help of industry input. Students are encouraged (and in some focus areas, required) to perform their thesis research in collaboration with an industry partner, ideally on a topic that was generated by the industry affiliate. Some PhD programs require students to have an industry adviser in their doctoral committee, and to spend repeated internships in industry – another exception for Portuguese Doctoral programs.
This comprehensive approach towards education, research, and socio-economic needs follows the KIC (Knowledge Integration Community) model previously applied by the Cambridge-MIT Initiative (Acworth, 2008).
Joint R&D Projects with Industry
Auto Class Project - Automatic classification and quality control for car tires
In 2009 the tire industry was in a crisis. The CEO of Mabor Lousado, the Portuguese subsidiary of Continental AG, identified a challenge: automatic classification and quality control for car tires. Such technology would help maintain Lousado’s position among the best of Continental’s twelve passenger tire plants.
Continental has connections with many universities and hosts many interns. However, it favored MIT Portugal’s unique, holistic approach to academic-industry relationships. The partnership has resulted in three PhD research projects, and the company expects to leverage the research findings at other plants, as well.
The MIT Portugal Program has partnered with Portuguese utility company GALP Energia to develop a web portal to help consumers to monitor their energy consumption. The portal will also provide carbon footprint, personalized energy efficiency tips, and other information. The project started in 2011 with the installation of energy monitoring equipment in the homes and cars of 60 Lisbon-area residents.
By the end of 2012 the project will reach 120 households. Data will show whether consumers informed about their consumption will improve their energy efficiency and maintain the change as an enduring behavioral pattern.
Extending life through faster stem-cell development
This project with the Portuguese Institute for Oncology - IPO Lisbon develops expedited isolation and ex vivo expansion of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). It focuses on using MSCs in the treatment of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). A common complication of bone marrow transplantation, GVHD is a severe and fatal disease: the functional immune cells in the transplanted marrow recognize the recipient as “foreign” and attack immunologically.
Eight patients have already benefited from this work, three with acute GVHD, one with extensive chronic GVHD, and four with other diseases treatable with MSCs.
Scusse - Smart Combination of passenger transport modes and services in Urban areas for maximum System Sustainability and Efficiency
This project with industry partner Geotaxis analyzes how new urban transport solutions interact with traditional transport modes and fit with current travel patterns and lifestyles.
One result, a shared taxi solution, presents a high implementation potential, showing an average 20 percent cost reduction for shared taxi riders, a potential win-win-win for passengers, operators, and society. The project’s models significantly expand the ability to characterize transport supply and demand with detailed spatialtemporal resolution that allows for the space and time matching required for shared transport.