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UT Austin-Portugal Program

General InformationTypes Of Cooperation ActivitiesTarget GroupsFinancing
Country Code: P227
Name of Programme: UT Austin-Portugal Program
Organisation responsible for the programme: FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Foundation for Science and Technology) Under the scope of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education
Type of organisation: Foundation
Country: Portugal
Web Link:
Starting Date 2007
Ending date
Joint initiative involving more than one Ministry? (if applicable)

Programme Description
General and specific objectives
The long-term collaboration established between The University of Texas at Austin (UTAustin) and Portuguese research and higher education institutions, as agreed between the Portuguese Science Foundation (FCT) and UTAustin, on the basis of the Assessment Report submitted in February 2007 by UT-Austin to the Government of Portugal. The goal of the assessment was to identify beneficial partnerships in targeted areas of mutual interest for educational and research excellence as well as accelerated economic development within Portugal as an enabler for new jobs and sustainable wealth creation.
Based on a 5-month (March-July 2006) assessment of a range of potential areas of cooperation it was decided to initially focus on two programme areas:
i) The development of an interdisciplinary research and advanced training programme in Digital Media, including the development of Master and PhD programmes; and
ii) The creation of a University Technology Enterprise Network (UTEN). During August-November 2006 two additional programme areas were considered for interdisciplinary research and advanced training, namely: Mathematics and Advanced Computing.
In addition, it was decided to launch the necessary institutional framework to explore additional fields for cooperation and to enter into an open collaborative framework in order to foster collaborative actions in other emerging scientific fields, including nano and molecular science, robotics, and biotechnology. All programme efforts will be subject to continuous monitoring, evaluation, and adjustments within the collaboration.
Consequently, an important component of the UTAustin-Portugal Programme lies in its institutional framework. As such, all the activities launched under the auspices of the UTAustin-Portugal Programme by UTAustin and by the FCT and partner institutions should be focused on creating a single governance structure, designated as the “International Collaboratory for Emerging Technologies”, or CoLab, which was launched without a legal personality and has two bases: one in Portugal, the CoLab@Portugal, and other at UTAustin, the CoLab@UTAustin.

Priority actions
The activities of CoLab are divided in three major groups:
i. Interdisciplinary research and advanced education activities in areas encompassing digital media, advanced computing and mathematics;
ii. On-job training for entrepreneurs and technology transfer officers and related technology commercialization activities, including internships and an exchange programme for entrepreneurs and technology transfer officers, in a way to form a “University Technology Enterprise Network”, UTEN; and
iii. Continuous identification and promotion of cooperation in emerging technologies between UTAustin and Portuguese institutions.

Management and coordination
Foundation for Science and Technology - Under the scope of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education
Expected or achieved outputs, outcomes and impacts
Interdisciplinary research and advanced education
This includes three different areas with the vision to foster interdisciplinary research and advanced education, in a way to help generate new knowledge leading to wealth creation.
The goal is to develop a close agenda bringing together Digital Media, Advanced Computing and Mathematics, so that CoLab can build on existing competences and foster a new scientific agenda at an international level. The various components are described in the following paragraphs.
Digital Media
The Digital Media Programme focuses on education, research, and business development in digital information content and new media production and distribution including:
a. Digital and interactive media, and new distribution systems for small and large screens and over the Internet
b. Online journalism
c. Interactive documentaries and interactive systems
d. Wireless technologies and systems for new media distribution leading to platforms to enhance digital inclusion, and learning systems for unskilled people with special emphasis on the handicapped and elderly
A PhD Programme was formed at the New University of Lisbon and The University of Porto in collaboration with The College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. Digital Media emerging challenges in entrepreneurship and technology venturing were associated with new media technology commercialization in international markets across a variety of initiatives.
The emphasis is on the full value chain associated with advanced digital media. The overall goal is to have students explore media technologies and their design implications as well as evolving connections between technology, design, social and cultural domains, and business development. The curriculum of the MA degree is stronger in hands-on production and experimentation, while the PhD degree adds theory and critical discourse to these subject areas that will function as core courses in the first two years of a PhD programme. Courses in research methods are important for both degrees and encourage students to develop innovative and creative research projects.
Advanced Computing
Advanced and grid computing enables the integration of widely dispersed computers, data repositories, and scientific instruments into a connected cyber-infrastructure that allows scientists, engineers, and information technology workers to become more productive through collaboration. The collaboration of researchers at UT-Austin and Portuguese Associate Laboratories (namely LIP and LAETA) and universities (namely The University of Minho, The New University of Lisbon, The University of Coimbra, the Instituto Superior Tecnico of the Technical University of Lisbon and other Portuguese universities) includes a PhD Programme in Computer Science/Informatics with a particular focus on advanced and grid computing.
The emphasis is on using existing Portuguese PhD programmes as opposed to creating a standalone new PhD degree. Students enrolled in this new UT-Austin/Portugal programme will need to (i) attend specialized and advanced courses; (ii) study and work in research environments at the participating universities and their associated research centers, (iii) work on research projects that are related to advanced computing; and (iv) if appropriate prepare a PhD dissertation related to advanced computing and the framework of the joint research agendas identified by the participating research groups at UT-Austin and the participating Portuguese universities.
The project in the area of mathematics is aimed to develop advanced programmes of research and education in specific areas of mathematics of common interest and expertise to:
• Reinforce the scientific and learning capabilities in Portugal, as well as to promote the internationalization of research and graduate programmes in leading Portuguese universities;
• Stimulate mobility and scientific interaction of graduate students, researchers and post-docs among institutions;
• Attract to the involved Universities strongly motivated students who are able to integrate advanced research programmes in Mathematics and applications;
• Optimize resources, by promoting a PhD programme that involves the major universities in Lisbon and in Coimbra.
The cooperative initiative involves the Institute for Computational Engineering and Science (ICES) and the Department of Mathematics at UT-Austin and mathematical research centers and groups in four Portuguese universities, namely at the School of Sciences of UL (FCUL), the Instituto Superior Tecnico of UTL (IST-UTL), the School of Sciences and Technology of UNL (FCTUNL), and the School of Sciences and Technology of U. Coimbra (FCTUC).
University Technology Enterprise Network (UTEN)
A University Technology Enterprise Network (UTEN) works to accelerate wealth and job creation in targeted, science-based, new-generation Portuguese industries and firms, and will develop increasingly interrelated programmes across organizational and institutional boundaries to support the common objective of world-class research and education leading to accelerated science and technology-based enterprise innovation and commercialization. It is based on:
i. Systematic on-job training and competence building of technology-transfer professionals from Portuguese institutions, together with continuous providing of internships in the Austin Technology Incubator, the IC2 Institute and relevant leading institutions in Austin and the United States, as well as by a continuous exchange programme with technology transfer offices in Portugal;
ii. Systematic on-job training and competence building of technology-based entrepreneurs to be selected from Portuguese research and academic institutions in order to accelerate processes of science and technology commercialization, emphasizing overcoming key challenges in technology entrepreneurship;
iii. Enhanced access to U.S. and international markets, namely through assistance to be provided by the Austin Technology Incubator and the IC2 Institute.
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