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Empowering the PhD

FCT has long recognised that talented

researchers underpin a strong and competitive

science base. The longstanding annual calls for

PhD studentships have been complemented

with a new ‘FCT PhD Programme’ funding

scheme, designed to support the best

research-based PhD programmes, as assessed

by international peer review, across all areas of

research. The 98 ‘FCT PhD Programmes’

selected to date take with them just under

2,500 studentships, to be awarded at a rate of

approximately 600 per year until 2018, and a

further €7m for courses, laboratory rotations

and fieldwork.

The first allocation includes seven PhD

programmes that have industry partners (40

companies altogether). In an industry setting,

these PhD programmes set the foundations for

greater academia-industry links and, crucially,

for increased uptake of PhD holders into

industry, the benefits of which are expected to

be felt in the next five years. The leverage

capacity of the PhD programmes in an industry

setting has been acknowledged by the regional


fter two decades of undisputed growth, the main challenge

facing R&I in Portugal in 2015 is to narrow the gap between

the excellent quantitative output (measured, for example, in the

number of researchers amongst the workforce and the number of

publications per million inhabitants) and the qualitative outputs of greater

impact of publications and more highly competitive European and

international research funding.

The Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), or Portuguese

Foundation for Science and Technology, has a clear goal of taking forward

and completing the measures applied to narrow this gap in order to boost

the international competitiveness of Portuguese R&D and crucially its

scientific, economic and social impact. Indeed, over the last three years,

several new, or thoroughly restructured, funding schemes have been put

in place. These schemes aim at bolstering the country’s entire science

base, from strengthening human capital to supporting the launch of

research infrastructures.

Regarding the latter, FCT set up the first ever Portuguese roadmap of

research infrastructures, thus placing the country on the European map

and providing the scientific community with essential tools for more

successful participation in continental and global frontier research

projects. The roadmap also provides political leverage to position

Portuguese teams in leading roles, influence future research agendas,

and facilitate a closer link with industry.

Staying the course

As the new president of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and


Maria Arménia Carrondo

details affirmative action nationally and

across the globe to realise Portugal’s R&I potential


H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L


N AT I O N A L F O C U S : P O R T U G A L

Maria Arménia