MPP Annual Conference Wrap-Up
On October 15, the MIT Portugal Program held its annual conference at the Pavilion of Knowledge – Ciência Viva Science Centre – in Lisbon.
This year’s theme was “Research and Reflection Amid Adversity,” which sought to explore and debate the importance of continuing academic and scientific work in the context of adversity.
For the first time the MPP annual conference ran in a hybrid format. The conference had over 40 in-person participants and more than 360 online viewers. The virtual format allowed for many more people to participate from many different locations around the globe.
The Welcome Session included remarks by Ana Noronha, Ciência Viva, Knowledge Pavilion; Pedro Arezes, Director MIT Portugal Program; and Helena Pereira, President of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).
During his speech Pedro Arezes highlighted that: “it has been clear we cannot slow down research and neither we should bypass reflection when facing adversity. These are critical tools for a solid decision making process for greater impact.” He also added: “The MIT Portugal Program targets global complex challenges, and our spaceship Earth is in need for our attention and help.” Which is why this conference had and discussion sessions on Earth and Climate Sciences, as well as a keynote talk on “Climate Emergency and Species Extinction Crisis – An Ocean’s Perspective.”
The Keynote Speaker was Emanuel Gonçalves, from Oceano Azul Foundation. His inspiring presentation shared a reflection on the recovery of nature ecosystems since Covid-19 lockdowns and how we can improve our positive impact on climate.
The first Conference session had all the 7 leading companies of the MPP2030 Flagship Projects. This session was moderate by Isabel Furtado, Member of the MPP Governing Committee – Portuguese Industry Representative, and focused on their expected impact on Portugal and the Portuguese people. These Flagship Projects represent an effort of more than 15 M€ on Climate Sciences, Earth Systems (Oceans to Near Space), Digital Transformation, and Sustainable Cities.
During session 2 Olivier de Weck (MIT); Miguel Bello (AirCentre); Ana Filipa Ponte (Deimos Engenharia); Bruno Ramos de Carvalho (Active Space Technologies) & Ricardo Conde (PT Space) shared their work research related to Oceans and Space.
Session 3 discussed Climate Science & Climate Change showing that we have a lot of work ahead of us. The session has the participation of Alexandra Moutinho (Técnico), Kerry Emanuel (MIT), Rafaela Matos (LNEC), Ricardo Trigo (Instituto Dom Luís, ULisboa), and was moderated by Júlia Seixas (FCT NOVA).
The winning teams of the Blue Origin Student Payload Competition, MiFiRE and EM²C, were also present to share their experience on this idea sprint challenge launched under the MIT Portugal.
Additionally, on display at the conference were thirty-four Conference Posters of MPP Flagships, Seed and Exploratory Projects created by both faculty researchers from MIT and Portuguese universities/companies. We also had Rodrigo Ventura conduct a live demo with Space CoBot and RAPOSA-NG robots.
The conference was concluded by Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education; Prof. Dava Newman, Director MIT Portugal Program, MIT; and Zita Martins, Co-Director MIT Portugal Program, Portugal. Manuel Heitor emphasized: “the international cooperation between Portugal and MIT” is to empower “Portuguese institutions and companies in innovation and internationalization through research projects with a direct impact on society.”
Prof. Dava Newman addressed the conference from Boston and said she’s proud of all that MPP2030 has achieved: “Now we have something incredible with all the 7 flagship projects in all MPP areas. Our ambitious are very bold. We are looking forward to the future.”
Zita Martins announced a new call for exploratory projects. She also invited the audience to join MIT Portugal for Ciencia2020, November 3rd, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Earth Day: “We will have a very interesting session with Dava Newman and also a set of talented researchers (PT and MIT) who just submitted a MPP sponsored proposal for the AI Moonshot Challenge.”
A big thank you to the Pavilion of Knowledge for hosting the event. And thank you to all the speakers, presenters, moderators, and participants! We also thank those who participated in the three special sessions before the conference MPP hosted with renowned experts about climate science and science communication.
We hope you had a great experience and that you may join us in future MIT Portugal moments. It was great to have you with us. The MIT Portugal Team hopes to see you again next year.
All sessions have been recorded and are available on our YouTube channel.