Fraunhofer Portugal participated in a ceremony held at CEiiA, in Porto, leading to the renewal of the cooperation agreement between Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology), alongside with the creation of a new research centre focusing on the topics of smart agriculture and water management. The ceremony counted with the presence of António Costa, Portugal’s Prime Minister, Manuel Heitor, Portugal's Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and Paulo Ferrão, President of the Board of Directors of FCT.
This agreement fosters the collaboration in science and research between Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) and the University of Évora to create a new research centre, with hubs in both universities. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the FCT also agreed to continue investing in the successful work of Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS (FhP-AICOS), marking the 10th anniversary of its founding, extending the centre’s funding until 2023.
This new research centre will be focused primarily on smart agriculture and water management, namely, developing new technologies to address current challenges, improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The new research centre is slated to work in close collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) in Saxony and Thuringia (Germany). FhP-AICOS will also contribute with its expertise in information technology and emerging communications to this new initiative
With this new research centre, Fraunhofer Portugal will widen its operations, expanding its model of proven success that has allowed the institution to carry out applied research of direct utility to private and public institutions and of wide benefit to society. “Portugal is the ideal partner for Fraunhofer in terms of putting its smart agriculture concepts into practice. The country provides a wealth of scientific expertise, as well as the climatic conditions we need to supplement and expand our knowledge in this field” says Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. “There’s huge potential for applying modern information technology to optimize processes in the agriculture and forestry sector. Our application-oriented research will benefit not just Portugal and Germany, but other countries across the EU as well.”
Liliana Ferreira, President of the Executive Board of Fraunhofer Portugal, said that “this step forward reinforces Fraunhofer Portugal’s standing as a highly qualified and top-tier research organization, capable of meeting industry and society’s needs. We look forward to collaborating with Fraunhofer IKTS, UTAD and University of Évora, and creating a long-lasting impact on the agro-industrial market".
The first agreement between Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the FCT was signed in 2007 and enabled the creation of Fraunhofer Portugal and the creation of the first Fraunhofer R&D centre in Portugal, FhP-AICOS, the first Fraunhofer Institute in Europe outside of Germany.
Currently, Fraunhofer Portugal operates one research centre, FhP-AICOS, which is dedicated to developing Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) solutions. Established 10 years ago, FhP-AICOS has grown to become a leading R&D institution in the country, developing and creating innovative technology-based solutions, namely for those with the least access to ICT, the aging and elderly and populations of rural and developing countries.