UT Austin Portugal hosts session at National Science Summit 2020 to discuss Science and Innovation

Photo Credits: Ciência Viva

Bringing together beneficiaries and ambassadors of its Research and Education initiatives, the Program held a 90-minute session, in a hybrid format, on November 3.

Science as an advantage in trying times

This year’s edition of “Ciência 2020” aimed at promoting a discussion beyond the main topics and challenges of the national scientific agenda. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how science and innovation can help the country recover, both economically and socially, were center stage in the 8th edition of the event. Although uncertainty has flooded our daily routines, a period of innovative technologies and scientific development has also emerged. Experts from different technical and research fields and economic sectors seem to be working amid the unknown and looking for answers.

The annual meeting looked to encourage interactions between researchers, the business sector and the general public – even if in a more digital format this time around. The plenary sessions were streamed online, and there was a virtual exhibition where the audience could catch up on I&D developments.

R&D projects and mobility initiatives at the forefront of knowledge transfer

The session “UT Austin Portugal: A meeting of minds an ocean apart”, on November 3, served as an opportunity to reflect on the joint venture between Portugal and UT Austin, which started more than a decade ago. Celebrating achievements and showcasing newly funded projects with high innovation potential, the event aimed at a community of researchers, entrepreneurs and technology and innovation enthusiasts, both in Lisbon and online.

With over 180 participants watching from home, UT Austin Portugal’s session within the Summit included the testimony of the Portuguese Principal Investigator (PI) of the Program’s 2017 Exploratory Research Project DREAM, Carla Cruz, who showed the audience the results of a transatlantic research undertaking on cancer treatment. The project’s team developed a drug delivery system for HPC infection therapy, through a topical product for genital and dermal application with an anti-cancer effect. Representing the 2019 Strategic Research Project TOFT-PET for Proton Therapy, Stefaan Tavernier, Co-President of PETsys Electronics, talked about the project’s mission to develop an improved PET system prototype to be used in Proton Therapy equipment, suited for radiation monitoring of head and neck cancers. In his turn, Tiago Hormigo, co-founder of Spin.Works, presented project uPGRADE, which seeks to create the first-of-its-kind nanosatellite dedicated to observing Earth’s gravitational field variations.

The agenda also included a presentation on the Advanced Computing Training Program – an initiative that ran through 2018 and 2019, with the support of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). These pilot editions allowed researchers from organizations in Portugal to spend some time at UT Austin and get the chance to receive hands-on training in one of the world’s most sophisticated computing infrastructure.

The event provided the opportunity to showcase a promotional video introducing the 11 Strategic Projects of the UT Austin Portugal Program, approved under the scope of the “Go Portugal – Global Science and Technology Partnerships Portugal” initiative.

Photo Credits: Ciência Viva

The current national context and travel restrictions proved, once again, to be no impediment to bring together “highly qualified, motivated minds, who work together to foster all areas of the Program”, stated José Manuel Mendonça, National Director of the Program, in his closing remarks.

Ciência 2020 is promoted by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) in collaboration with Ciência Viva – National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture, and the Parliamentary Education and Science Commission, and has the institutional support of the Government through the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

You can watch the full session here.