Portuguese Universities and ICT Companies Work Closer Together

The Carnegie Mellon Portugal program launched three new innovation networks, with the goal to consolidate and expand the successful cooperation among all partner institutions and industrial affiliates. For this purpose, three different thematic events sponsored by FCT, one for each innovation network, will work together with corporate executives and members of the scientific community: Innovation Forum on Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection (NET-SCIP), Innovation Forum on Future Internet Services and Technologies (NET- FIT), Innovation Forum on Services and Technologies for Interactive Media (NET-STIM). The three networks will build on the ongoing research and education activities of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program, and are envisioned to become active platforms for fruitful interactions between industry and academia.

The Carnegie Mellon Portugal program launched three new innovation networks, with the goal to consolidate and expand the successful cooperation among all partner institutions and industrial affiliates. For this purpose, three different thematic events sponsored by FCT, one for each innovation network, will work together with corporate executives and members of the scientific community: Innovation Forum on Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection (NET-SCIP), Innovation Forum on Future Internet Services and Technologies (NET- FIT), Innovation Forum on Services and Technologies for Interactive Media (NET-STIM). The three networks will build on the ongoing research and education activities of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program, and are envisioned to become active platforms for fruitful interactions between industry and academia.

Security and Critical Infrastructures Protection (NET-SCIP)

The Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program thematic network on Security and Critical Infrastructures Protec-tion was launched on February 22, 2010. The goal is to promote an inter-disciplinary approach by which experts from engineering, basic sciences, economy, design, and psychology come together to create new knowledge and develop security solutions for all kind of users and compa-nies.

"Security is a devil that has to be worked out by companies," said Pradeep Khosla, Dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, during his guest presentation. Khosla emphasized the ongoing research projects under the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program that are generating critical mass, which enables competitive research, giving birth to new products and services. Khosla concluded his speech by saying that "research is done best when you work with the best people," and "smart people want to work with smart people."

João Barros, National Director of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program, made a general presentation about the Program, and the ongoing research projects. He showed the roadmap for CyLab Portugal, which will be created in June 2010. "This will be a virtual center of expertise in cyber-security that will further connect Portuguese universities and companies to CyLab at Carnegie Mellon University," said Barros.

At the first round-table, titled "Information and Communication Security," Manuel Garcia, from Portugal Telecom, moderated a table composed by Paulo Mateus, from Instituto Superior Técnico, Tiago Carvalho, from GMV Skysoft, Frank Pfenning, from Carnegie Mellon University, and André Zúquete, from Universidade de Aveiro. "Critical Infrastructures Protection" was the title of the second round-table moderated by Eduardo Tovar, from ISEP, and composed by Nuno Ferreira Neves, FCUL, António Sousa, EDISOFT, Maria Manuel Farinha, ISQ, and Jorge Rodrigues, Critical Software. The main conclusion of both discussions was that it is important to engage universities and companies to work side by side on research, and on solving important practical problems. This development could give comparative advantages to Portugal in this area that it is crucial to all nations. Another topic was the convergence of telecommunication networks, information systems and control technologies. Given the growing inter-dependence of all these systems, the impact of so called cyber-attacks is no longer secluded to information systems. It is now a real threat both to infrastructures and basic services on which we all depend in our everyday life. During this event, the participants discussed the role of ICT in helping and preventing acci-dents during a natural catastrophe like the one that hit, for example, Madeira Island in February.

Future Internet Technologies and Services (NET-FIT)

The Carnegie Mellon Portugal program thematic network on Future Internet Technologies and Services was launched on February 23, 2010. This network aims to gather the expertise of Portuguese research centers, private companies and government agencies in order to place Portugal at the forefront of innovation in key technologies and services for the Future Internet.

Alfredo Baptista, Chief Technology Officer of Portugal Telecom, in the opening session speech said that "the three networks launched by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program are very important to the World, to Portugal, and to the society." Manuel Heitor, Portuguese State Secretary for Science, Technology and Higher Education, followed emphasizing the first three years of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program focused on education, and "now it is time to move forward and create these networks, which are a challenge for researchers and compa-nies to build the future."

The guest presentation was made by Franco Accordino, of the European Commission’s Information Society. Accordino talked about ICT in the European Commission’s 7th Framework Program for Research, and also about the importance of a Future Internet Public Private Partnership under this framework.

The first round-table discussed the theme "Future Internet Technologies." João Barros, National Director of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, was the moderator of a table composed by Luís Caires, from Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT UNL), António Vidigal, from EDP Inovação, João Marques, from Nokia Siemens Networks, and Rui Aguiar, from Universidade de Aveiro. Luís Caires, from FCT UNL, is PI of the research project INTERFACES under the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, which aims to develop new techniques for enforcing security, integrity, and correctness requirements on distributed extensible web‐based applications by introducing novel, semantically rich notions of interface description languages. The project uses advanced type systems and logics. In his speech Caires argued that it is imperative to build new software tools which can create value and improve data processing. António Vidigal, from EDP Inovação, con-sidered that Portugal should bet on three specific areas: "software flexibility, smart grids, and on smart electric vehicles."

João Marques, from Nokia Siemens Networks, emphasized the importance of creating solutions to solve problems that will come in three or four years, when 6 billion users will be online. Rui Aguiar, from Universidade de Aveiro, said that there are too many players involved in this area, so it is important to build consensus among the companies.

The second round-table, titled "Future Internet Services," was mo-derated by Luís Magalhães, President of UMIC, and composed by Alcino Lavrador, from PT Inovação, J. Basílio Simões, from ISA, Pedro Veiga, from FCCN, and Pradeep Khosla, Dean of the School of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Khosla believes that in the near future we will perceive big changes in two different areas: Education and Health Care. In Khosla’s opinion Education will be mobile, and the Health Care services will be in the hands of all. As an example, he talked about the research Project Vital Responder, which is carried out under the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program. This project uses a simple t-shirt to do an electrocardiogram (ECG). "This project puts a medical exam in everybody’s hands," said Khosla. Pedro Veiga, from FCCN, stated that in Portugal all universities work under the same network, so now the challenge is at the security level because of the electronic identification of users.

Mariano Gago, Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology, and Higher Education, ended the session emphasizing the importance of building this kind of networks, which enables research inside and outside universities, contributing significantly to the economic development of the country.

Services and Technologies for Interactive Media (NET-STIM)

On February 24, at Pavilhão do Conhecimento, in Lisbon, the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program launched the thematic network on Services and Technologies for Interactive Media. This thematic network intends to gather the expertise of Portuguese research centers, private companies, and govern-ment agencies in order to place Portugal at the forefront of innovation in key interactive technologies and services for digital media.

Manuel Heitor, Portuguese State Secretary for Science, Technology, and Higher Education, made a positive remark about all the partnerships developed by the Portuguese govern-ment with American universities (MIT and Austin, for example). In his speech Manuel Heitor argued that the goal of the Portuguese government in launching three partnerships at the same time was to ensure competition among them, and also to enable the creation of national research networks. "Now the partnerships, besides promoting higher qualification, are a platform of discussion were researchers from Portuguese universities, and from Carnegie Mellon, with entrepreneurs from Portuguese companies work side by side," said Manuel Heitor.

"Technologies for Interactive Media" was the theme of the first round-table mode-rated by Nuno Nunes, scientific director of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program. This round-table was composed by António Câmara, from YDreams, Pedro Branco, from Engage Lab, Joaquim Jorge, from INESC-ID, Miguel Peixoto de Oliveira, from Edigma, Verónica Orvalho, from Faculdade de Ciências of Universi-dade do Porto (FCUP), and by Diogo Terroso, from NearInteraction. António Câmara, from YDreams, talked about the work developed by his company in the interactive technologies areas, and also about his relation with Ph.D. coworker: "I usually tell them to become loose and to submit their more incredible ideas to us," adding "they have to give us confidence that they can do it." Verónica Orvalho, researcher from FCUP, talked about her project which intends to help autistic children to recognize facial expressions. Diogo Terroso, from NearInteraction, considers that the future of the Interactive Media will be based on design, "in gestural interfaces which will recognize our body and facial expressions."

"Services for Interactive Media" was the theme of the second round-table, which was moderated by Nuno Correia, Co-Director of Digital Media, UT Austin Pro-gram, and composed by Carlos Amaral, from Priberam, Isabel Trancoso, from INESC-ID, António Silva, from Nonius, Heitor Alvelos, from Faculdade de Belas Artes of Universidade do Porto (FBAUP), Pedro Quintas, from Collab/Novabase, Valentina Nisi, from Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, and José Carlos Gonçalves, from Lógica Ibérica. Carlos Amaral, from Priberam, advocated for a closer relation between universities and companies. Amaral gave the positive example of André Martins, Ph.D. student in Language Technologies in the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, which brought to Priberam new ideas, like launching the Priberam Machine Learning Lunch Seminars 2010. Isabel Trancoso, from INESC-ID, emphasized the importance of working with Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, which has more people per capita working in Language Technologies areas worldwide.

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"We need to attract students to Science and Technology. We need to show them that to do research is very interesting," said Isabel Trancoso, from INESC-ID.

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António Silva, from Nonius, talked about the technology de-veloped to help locate children, and also about the project Hotel 3.0. Silva explained that in the near future it will be possible to have a Hotel that can recognize the client, and will be able to give him whatever he likes." Heitor Alvelos, from FBAUP, emphasized the importance "to do investment in everything that already exists in order to make it grow, and then invest in innovation." Alvelos also talked about the Future Places 2010 event, a project developed under the UT Austin Program. To Pedro Quintas companies should pull universities to work with them, but on the other hand it is important to get "a balance between technologies, ideas, and about what is possible in the short and long term. It is necessary for com-panies to transform innovation into products or services."

João Sentieiro, president of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, closed the Innovation Forum saying "it is urgent to do more and better. It is urgent to think of the future and to give sustainability to these three networks."

March 2010