Call for MIT Portugal PhD and Executive Masters is now open

In 10 years, MPP students and faculty have created 16 start-ups

MIT Portugal PhD and Executive Master Programs are soliciting applications for 2016-17. Graduate courses are a partnership between five Portuguese universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and are funded by the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia. Doctoral programs offer 40 PhD Scholarships (10 in each focus area), take place in both Portugal and at MIT, and cover research in the fields of Bioengineering Systems, Sustainable Energy Systems, Transportation Systems and Leaders for Technical Industries. PhD Programs are completed in three to four years, of which 6-12 months may be spent at MIT. The deadline for doctoral applications is April 13th. The deadline for the Executive Master’s is June 13th 2016.

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Research undertaken in these programs addresses real world challenges, such as developing a surgical superglue for the little hearts of babies born with congenital heart disease, creating a smart meter to save electricity through tailored efficiency measures, designing a Rail Bike adaptor to ride abandoned railways, or optimizing airline allocation and scheduling problems. Some of these innovations have moved to the start-up environment, while others continue under development. They are all examples of what happens at MIT Portugal: innovation focussed on industry and sustainable development.

Since its foundation in 2006, MIT Portugal has proven to be a fertile environment for entrepreneurship, in which sixteen start-ups have been created. Alumni from both courses work in Portuguese companies, such as Renova or PT, multinationals as Rolls-Royce, international organizations such as OECD, and hospitals such as Guy’s and St Thomas in London. Those who chose to pursue an academic career have found positions at Portuguese and international research institutions, from MIT to King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). MIT Portugal presents students with a unique opportunity to follow diverse and enriching career paths.

Courses are taught in English and held in an international environment with students representing over 28 nationalities. Students may also take part in test-bed projects in Sustainable Cities, developed in partnership with EDP, ADENE and the Lisbon City Council; Stem Cell Engineering & Regenerative Medicine, supported by Crioestaminal and Lisbon’s Hospital de Santa Marta; and Introduction of Advanced Materials Technologies, supported by Embraer and Optimal. In Portugal, Universidade de Lisboa, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Universidade de Coimbra, Universidade do Porto and Universidade do Minho take part in the Program.

PhD Programs (PD-F, 10 scholarships financed by FCT each)
Applications until April 13th (1st phase - scholarships)

  • Bioengineering Systems
  • Leaders for Technical Industries
  • Sustainable Energy Systems
  • Transportation Systems

Advanced Courses
Applications until June 13th

  • Bioengineering Systems (Advanced Course)
  • Technology Management Enterprise (Executive Master’s)
  • Sustainable Energy Systems (Executive Master’s)

Additional information is available through the website

February 15th, 2016

Green Detergents Developed from MIT Portugal Ph.D thesis win the “Green Project Awards”

January 8th, 2016


Did you know that, when cleaning your house, you may also be polluting the planet? The detergents that leave everything clean and shiny may also contain major pollutants derived from oil-based products, which have a high level of toxicity. An alternative has been developed by a team comprised of Nuno Faria, Ph.D. (MIT Portugal Alumnus), Frederico Ferreira (MIT Portugal/IST Professor) , and César Fonseca, Ph.D. (former researcher at LNEG and currently Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark). Their "Green Detergents: Biosurfactants from lignocellulosic biomass" have recently won the Jerónimo Martins/Green Project Awards, a prize given by Quercus, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), and GCI, to reward and foster sustainable development.

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Nuno Faria’s Ph.D. thesis undertaken at the MIT Portugal PhD program in Bioengineering at IST, and entitled “Yeast mannosylerythritol lipids from lignocellulose: A novel strategy for the production of jet biofuel,” was the basis of another FCT exploratory project, entitled “TAKE-OFF: Novel 'runways' for the bioconversion of lignocellulosics into jet biofuels2,” led by César Fonseca and Frederico Ferreira. “TAKE-OFF” aims for the development of new biofuels and bioproducts, such as biosurfactants, from lignocellulosic waste.

More than 90% of commercial surfactants (detergents) are chemically synthetized from non-renewable resources. Most are not biodegradable, and many have a negative environmental impact through the contamination of water. Green detergents present a cleaner alternative for home and industrial use, as well bringing new possibilities to the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

The use of biosurfactants instead of synthetic surfactants has significant advantages with regard to bio-degradability, non-toxicity, mild production conditions, and unique properties. The mannosylerythritol lipids (MEL), which are glycolipids with biosurfactants properties, are produced biologically by gender Pseudozyma yeast from vegetable oils.

The new technology developed by Faria, Ferreira, and Fonseca offers advantages over existing green technology based on the use and biological conversion of vegetable oils. The new technology allows for the use of biomass that does not compete directly with food. It therefore reduces the costs of raw materials and the environmental impact on production of vegetable oils, while allowing for less intensive product purification processes.

The team continues to develop its technology for commercialization. A new FCT project led by IST-ID is scheduled to begin soon, and the research team has established contacts with national and international companies for joint technological development and licensing. The first results are already visible in the team’s international patent, and in their several international publications on the research. They have also helped train 2 doctoral and 3 masters students in these exciting discoveries.

MPP alumna awarded with the Scientific Prize Mário Quartin Graça

ericacastanheiraÉrica Geraldes Castanheira PhD Thesis was distinguished with the Scientific Award Mário Quartin Graça , in the category "Technologies and Natural Sciences". Érica Geraldes Castanheira’s thesis  Environmental Sustainability Assessment of Soybean and Palm Biodiesel Systems : a Life -Cycle Approach  held within the framework of the MIT Portugal PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems at University of Coimbra under the supervion of Professor Fausto Freire. 

The Scientific Award Mario Quartin Grace is a partnership between Banco Santander Totta and the House of Latin America, which aims to distinguish doctoral thesis carried out by Portuguese researchers or Latin American universities in Portugal or Latin America. The prize consists of a sum of 5,000 euros for each category .

The researcher developed a model for assessing the environmental sustainability of biodiesel produced from soy and palm grown in Latin America. The model considered all stages of the life cycle, from extraction of raw materials and natural resources, through processing, transport and use. The research allowed to define strategies and identify solutions to reduce environmental impacts in different biodiesel production chains, as well as a comparative analysis of the environmental impacts of biodiesel and fossil fuels. The results of this research showed the importance of changes in land use in biodiesel's carbon footprint and that the place and mode of production of oilseeds are crucial aspects in the environmental sustainability of biodiesel.

Érica Castanheira is currently a researcher at the Center for Industrial Ecology at the University of Coimbra under the Energy Sustainability Initiative .


In the media

 Diario Digital ; Sol ; PtJornal ; Notícias ao Minuto 

Food packages "speak" and help consumers make better-informed, economical & sustainable decisions

Mater Dynamics EPMater Dynamics, a Portuguese startup company, received the highest prize in the fourth “Energia de Portugal”.

The entrepreneurship contest, promoted by Expresso and EDP, culminated in an investment pitch competition, where Mater Dynamics won the € 20,000 prize.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, Portugal), one of every three meals is discarded, not eaten. Wasted meals from restaurants, catering services, and households represent 51% of global food waste.

Mater Dynamics developed a commercial sensor based on work by FCT-NOVA and MIT Portugal researchers Tiago Cunha Reis, Ana Machado, and Diana Fernandes. Their research included creation of sensors for monitoring the quality of food products. Small sensors can be applied to a package and communicate directly with a mobile phone, tablet, or computer. This would allow consumers to verify at any time which products they have at home and the freshness of each. Consumers could not only save money but reduce food waste.

The new sensor developed by Mater Dynamics, QStamp®, measures variables that affect the quality of food products and can communicate with a mobile app or other device. QStamp can monitor external factors, such as temperature and humidity, as well as measure the quality of the food product throughout its life cycle.

In addition, when applied to packages, QStamp lets consumers know via a mobile device or computer which products they have at home and whether these foods need to be replaced. Shopping becomes easier, as consumers can check via their phones to find out what they need to buy. Also, when a product’s shelf life is coming to an end, household members can receive a notification, which could help to avoid household food waste.

QStamp smart tags can be applied by consumers to their containers of daily use (plastic boxes, glass jars, freezer bags, and paper bags) or by food producers and processors directly to their products, allowing for better stock management and quality monitoring.

In the Media: 

Exame Informática ; Diário Económico ; Observador ; Sábado ; iOnlineNotícias ao minuto ; PPLware ; TecnoAlimentar 

doDOC, a startup by MIT Portugal alumni, was selected by the highly competitive Techstars Boston

doDOC, the Coimbra and Boston-based startup, was selected by Techstars  Boston. doDOC helps highly regulated enterprises to focus on the content, import and share highly complex documents with its web-based platform. It is the first Portuguese startup to win a spot in the prestigious business accelerator and it was found by three MIT Portugal PhD graduates Carlos Boto, Federico Cismondi and Paulo Melo.

[Comunicado de Imprensa em Português]

doDOC and its founders were chosen to participate in Techstars after an exhaustively competitive application process. We are extremely impressed with the quality of the projects being developed in Portugal, said Semyon Dukach, Managing Director of Techstars in Boston, Our investment in doDOC reflects our intensified efforts to identify and support the next generation of technology ventures wherever they are in the world, adding them to our track record of scalable successful businesses.

doDOC is focusing its market entry on pharmaceutic and biotech companies, hospitals and universities. Such organizations generate high volumes of documents and require an easy, secure and organized way of accessing and output the information contained in those documents. doDOC has developed a platform that optimizes such processes.

doDOC is a great example of the growth of the Portuguese Entrepreneurship Ecosystem during the last few years. The team behind doDOC first met in 2008 through the MIT Portugal Program. However, doDOC only gain form in February 2014 with the support of Coimbra University ArriscaC competition and the very early accelerator program INEO-Start, promoted by Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN), Coimbra University Business Incubator. Shortly after, Lisbon Challenge, an ambitious 3-month acceleration program, powered by Beta-i and sponsored by Caixa Capital, which provided consistent methods and resources to reach global markets and where doDOC won a spot among the TOP10 startups. Also the support of IAPMEI, through Passaporte para o Empreendedorismo was essential to the business and product development that led to the selection of  doDOC to join the Building Global Innovators, a program also sponsored by Caixa Capital, ISCTE-IUL and MIT Portugal. This accelerator, focused on innovation and in direct contact with the US market, was essential to place doDOC right on track to enroll in Techstars.

Carlos Boto, one of doDOC founders reveals: Techstars investment is a validation of doDOC’s technology and value proposition, and the entire team is proud of being the first Portuguese start-up to join the Techstars accelerator program. It’s recognition of the work and support from an entire community that worked with us towards this moment, which represents a unique opportunity for the future of doDOC.

doDOC Team Carlos Federico Paulo no MIT

In the media

Observador ; Computer World ; MIT News ; Publico P3 ; RTP ; Ver Portugal ;