CMU Portugal Program renewed until 2030 at the “GoPortugal: Global Science and Technology Partnerships Portugal” Conference in Porto

The CMU Portugal Program was renewed for another decade in an agreement signed between Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), represented by its Interim President, Professor Farnam Jahanian, and the Portuguese Government through the President of FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia), Professor Paulo Ferrão. The new agreement was officially launched on February 15th at a ceremony entitled “GoPortugal Global Science and Technology Partnerships Portugal,” which took place at CEiiA in Porto. This marked the beginning of the Portuguese Government initiative “Go Portugal” to promote innovation through international Partnerships between 2018 and 2030.

The official Ceremony was preceded in the morning by a Council of Ministers held at CEiiA that defined an innovation strategy for Portugal in three key areas: strengthening the country´s R&D capacity; knowledge transfer into the economy; and promoting highly qualified jobs. The GoPortugal Program is one of the pillars of this strategy that is focused on new collaboration agreements up to 2030 between Portugal and leading international institutions including Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and Fraunhofer Society (FhG) among others.

After the Council, Ministers joined a networking lunch with the participants of the Conference “GoPortugal: Global Science and Technology Partnerships Portugal” that included the Presidents, Directors, faculty and researchers from Universities and Politécnicos, as well as collaborators from many of the companies involved in the international partnerships.

The first part of the Ceremony “GoPORTUGAL: Promoting innovation through international partnerships” was dedicated to the renewal of the international partnerships, including the CMU Portugal Program. The Opening Session was hosted by Professor Manuel Heitor, the Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology, and Higher Education, who referred to the contributions that international partnerships have brought and can bring to Portuguese higher education and research institutions, emphasizing that innovation in science and technology is enhanced by global relationships with strategic partners that can strengthen Portugal´s position in the World. Mr. Rodrigo Costa, CEO of REN,  the concession holder of the country's two main energy infrastructure networks, the National Electricity Transmission Grid and the National Natural Gas Transportation Grid, referred the importance of global science and international partnerships to the Portuguese scientific community, in particular, by increasing joint participation of companies with universities in research and development activities, and  through the growing number of start-ups and entrepreneurial activities in Portugal.

The Ceremony continued with the signing of the cooperation agreement with each international partner, including agreements with multiple “Industrial affiliates.” The agreement was signed by FCT President Paulo Ferrão and by CMU Interim President Farnam Jahanian, officially launching a new phase of the CMU Portugal Program.

“This next chapter of the CMU-Portugal program will create a dynamic and productive ecosystem in Portugal, fueled by a relentless drive to innovate and enabled by the tools and resources to turn entrepreneurial ideas into tangible social and economic impact,” said Jahanian.


The agreement will extend the cooperation between CMU and FCT through 2030.

The ceremony also included agreements with twelve new Industrial Affiliate Companies of the CMU-Portugal Program: Altice represented by Alcino Lavrador (General Manager Altice Labs);  Accenture by Pedro Pombo Rodrigues (Managing Director); CEiiA by José Rui Felizardo (President); Farfetch by Cipriano Sousa (CTO); Feedzai by Paulo Marques (CTO); NOS by Jorge Graça (CTO); Talkdesk by Pedro Torres (Managing Director); Tekever by Pedro Sinogas (CEO); Thales by João António da Costa Araújo (CEO); Unbabel by Marcelo Lebre (VP of Engineering); Uniplaces by Miguel Santo Amaro (Co-Founder) and Veniam by Maria João Souto (COO).


The closing speech by the Portuguese Prime Minister focused on the importance of these Partnerships as part of the Government´s increasing investment in innovation and development with a goal to reach, by 2030, 3% of the Gross Domestic Product, one third public funds and two thirds private investment.

The second part of the event “GoPORTUGAL: collaborative laboratories, Atlantic interactions and the AIR Centre” focused on the new Atlantic interactions through the The Atlantic International Research Center (AIR) in collaboration with North American universities.  The CMU Portugal Program, with its focus on a data economy, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics, robotics, and autonomy, will contribute research to the AIR Center of common interest to academia and regional partners integrating space, climate, and oceans data of interest to North-South, South-North countries interactions and cooperate with the “INCoDe2030 – National Initiative on Digital Skills e2030” to further promote digital skills in Portugal.

Carnegie Mellon Portugal Technical Workshops

The signing ceremony was followed on February 16th by a series of technical workshops at UPTEC in Porto, open to the scientific community. The event hosted more than 140 participants, distributed by six workshops, which were held simultaneously during the morning, bringing together not only faculty from Carnegie Mellon University and Portuguese universities, but also researchers and engineers from the many companies that are committed to participating in the third phase of the program. 

The workshops were organized jointly by CMU and Portuguese Faculty to address research topics of interest to these different communities, starting the process of establishing fruitful collaborations for the future.

For more information about the workshops please visit the event´s website.

Workshop 1 – Cloud Computing and Big Data, by Justine Sherry (CMU) and Paolo Romano (IST, University of Lisbon /INESC-ID)

Workshop 2 – Deployable Robotics, by Pedro Lima (IST, University of Lisbon / ISR) and Rodrigo Ventura (IST, University of Lisbon / ISR)

Workshop 3 -  Human Centered Design by Nuno Nunes (CMU Portugal) and Valentina Nisi (Univ. Madeira / M-ITI). 

Workshop 4 – Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing by Manuela Veloso (CMU), Francisco S. Melo (IST, University of Lisbon /INESC-ID) and Isabel Trancoso (IST, University of Lisbon / INESC-ID).

Workshop 5 – Public Policy by Joana Mendonça (IST, University of Lisbon / IN+) and Granger Morgan (CMU)

Workshop 6 – Software Engineering by Bruno Cabral (University of Coimbra / CISUC) and Manuel "Mel" Rosso-Llopart (CMU)


In the afternoon the participants joined in a Plenary Session, hosted by Nuno Nunes and Rodrigo Rodrigues, Directors of the CMU|Portugal Program in Portugal that included a series of short interventions by the workshop organizers with a summary of the results from each workshop, followed by open discussion.


A brief look into the past and a glimpse into the future of the CMU Portugal Program

Ten years after the beginning of CMU Portugal Program, its success is revealed by its numbers:  the CMU Portugal Program has involved 42 Portuguese academic institutions, Carnegie Mellon University, and more than 120 industry affiliates; it has reached more than 900 students, researchers and faculty from both sides of the Atlantic; supported around 50 collaborative research projects; supported the projects of 15 Portuguese entrepreneurial teams in the United States, and boosted the creation of 11 startups, which have attracted more than $ 118 million in venture capital investment, mostly international, and created more than 400 skilled jobs.

Now, the overarching mission of Phase III is to foster industry-science relationships as agents of change on a data driven economy with research for social and economic impact.

This requires a robust collaboration with cities/regions and companies strongly invested in the program. As such, within ICT, the program will emphasize research missions that are of common interest between academia and their regional ecosystems in the context of the initiative recently launched by the Portuguese Government to further promote digital skills, “INCoDe2030 – National Initiative on Digital Skills e2030”. Addressing these mission statements will require interdisciplinary efforts, both within data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, and robotics areas and across different contributing disciplines such as energy, bioengineering, design, social sciences, public policy and entrepreneurship. These missions will continuously be identified through a close connection to the industrial partners of the program.

The Phase III of the program proposes to focus on high-impact science that takes advantage of the important opportunities provided by the data economy as a driver of growth and change. This vision should be followed by an agenda that leverages the strategic geopolitical position of Portugal in the Euro-Atlantic region, while also prioritizing the joint employment of doctorates and the advancement of post-graduate education and research in Portuguese institutions