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PORTUGUESE RESEARCH POLICY

The Portuguese research landscape has undergone a profound transformation in the last fifteen years. In particular, the creation in 1995, for the first time in Portugal, of the Ministry for Science and Technology and the definition by the government of a strategic vision and the decision of assigning a high priority to R&D has contributed for the reinforcement and development of the Science and Technology System. The introduction, in 1996, of a systematic evaluation process (every three years) based on international and independent panels and a more active international participation and cooperation have contributed to increase the international awareness regarding the science produced in Portugal and hence to increase the international reputation of our scientific community.

At the same time Portugal has benefited from considerable structural funds for Science and Technology through successive QCAs. Observing the evolution of some key figures along time can monitor the results of these changes.
 
The following table presents the figures for a few indicators that show the modifications undergone by the national scientific and technological system.
 
EVOLUTION OF A FEW INDICATORS OF THE NSTS
 
 
YEAR
Total I&D
personnel (FTE)*
Total nr. Researchers (FTE)*
Ratio
Res./Pop. (%)
Ratio R&D/GDP (%)
1988
10 883
6 561
60
0.41
1990
12 043
7 736
64
0.51
1992
13 448
9 451
70
0.61
1995
15 465
11 599
75
0.57
1997
18 035
13 642
76
0.62
1999
20 806
15 751
76
0.76
2001
22 970
17 724
77
0.85
2003
25 529
20 242
79
0.79
Source: Eurostat                                                          * FTE: full time equivalent
 
 
The evolution is characterized by a significant growth of the human and financial resources allocated to research (the reduction observed in 2003 was due to changes on the public policies, however, this trend has been completely reversed by the present government that has given again a high priority to Science, Technology and Innovation).
 
In fact, the creation of a considerable sector of non-–profit private research organizations, the enlarged capacity to train new researchers and to participate in national and international research programmes as well as in European and international academic networks was determined by the demanding requisites and goals set to the university based research units and reinforced with the emergence of the Associate Laboratories (reference institutions which have been ranked as excellent units by the international evaluation panels).
 
 
The dimension of the NSTS (measured by the total I&D personnel) more than doubled (from 10,883 FTE in 1988 to 25,529 FTE in 2003) in the last fifteen years. The number of PhDs more that triplicate, in the same period, as did the scientific production internationally cited (400 articles per inhabitant and year, representing 0.56% of the total number of articles worldwide in 2003). The umber of researchers per thousand active workers is 3.5 in 2003 (OCES, 2005).
 
In 2003, the contribution to the R&D expenses of the private sector was 0.24% of GDP. Without the fundamental contribution of the economic private sector, namely the industry, it will not be possible to sustain the growing qualified manpower of productive employment in R&D – economic, social and political sustainability of this level of effort has to result from a global effort. It is in this context that the present government has challenged the economic sector to triplicate their contributions until 2009, in order to achieve 0,75% of GDP.
 
The fast scientific and technological development of the country is hence a national priority and goals are defined aiming at recovering the lag as compared to developed countries. This is the engagement of the present government towards Science. It translates into a set of values for the indicators currently used for measuring the scientific and technological development of countries.
 
The following goals are pointed out:
 
-         To reach 5.5 researchers (FTE) per thousand active workers (in 2003 the number was 3.5 in Portugal and 5.5 in EU25)
-         To change from 1,000 to 1,500 doctors per year, increasing also the percentage of PhD in Sciences and Engineering
-         To increase by 50% the scientific production internationally cited, growing from 400 to 600 scientific publications per million of inhabitant
-         To triplicate the number of patents registered at the European US Patent Offices (in 2003 the figures were 4.1 and 1.3 per million of inhabitants, respectively)
 
To attain these goals it is necessary to launch several programmes, as well as mobilizing the whole country, in particular scientists and their organizations.
 
The proposed orientations aim at an enlarged participation in this movement that also implies renovation and expansion of the social base of the scientific and technological development in Portugal, through the direct involvement of scientific and technological professions, private and public organizations, as well as students and their families and the population in general. The growing appropriation of scientific and technological culture is, necessarily, one of the pillars of these orientations.
 
The five orientations are:
 
-         To invest in Knowledge and scientific and technological competence, measured at the highest international level
-         To invest in the human resources and in the Scientific and Technological Culture
-         To invest in public and private R&D organizations, in their reinforcement, responsibility, internal organization and networked infrastructure
-         To invest in internationalisation, strictness and evaluation
-         To invest in the economic valuation of research
 
 
A large range of measures are launched to enforce these orientations that will require an increase of the 2007 budget awarded by the Government to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education in the amount of 250 Meuros as compared to 2006 budget. This increment to Science and Technology budget must be extended to 2008 and 2009, till set goals have been reached.
 
In the framework of this “Engagement to Science” a complete and profound revision of the network of scientific organizations will take place in order to ensure the reliability and the quality of the national scientific and technological system, by international standards, in the context of accelerated growth.
 
Goals to be attained will be defined for the organizations adequate to the their mission, in particular in the technological areas and engineering, in respect to external investment too be attracted, to the minimum level of participation of enterprises in their activities or in common projects and to the intensity of referral to services provided or to scientific and technological dissemination. In applied science areas, the majority of research contracts will have to take the form of research projects in consortia with enterprises.
 
Finally, the structure of the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) will be reinforced to ensure its role of institutional reference and warranty of the evaluation and financing system and to enable its capacity to attract internationally recognized authorities in R&D evaluation and management while a State foundation.
 
For further information, please visit the following sites:
 
 
 
 
 
The visit to section Portuguese research landscape will complete the information about the S&T in Portugal