Today ends the second Portuguese presidency of the Eureka network, which brought together in Portugal over the past three days representatives of the 38 countries that are part of this intergovernmental initiative to support European innovation. Minister Mariano Gago takes a very positive view of this presidency, during which 33 projects with Portuguese participation were approved, representing an investment of 38 million euros between public and private financing.
In a press conference, the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education admits that the fact that Portugal had the network’s presidency this year encouraged Portuguese companies to present projects, multiplying the number of initiatives by eight national companies over the years. previous ones.
Mariano Gago stressed, however, that there is a context of growth in R&D in Portuguese companies, which was explosive between 2005 and 2007 and which continues the same trend in 2008 and 2009. This greater maturity of companies is also one of the differences felt in the face of the first Portuguese presidency of this innovation network in 1997.
On the sidelines of the conference, Lino Fernandes, president of the Innovation Agency that was responsible for organizing the Eureka conference and the Innovation Days, told TeK that the vast majority of these projects in which Portuguese entities participate have national leadership and that the most representative sectors are those linked to energy and sustainability.
1 year on-board presidency
As a review of the last year in which Portugal chaired the Eureka, Mariano Gago highlights the importance of expanding relations outside Europe, with the negotiation of the entry of South Korea as an associated state.
As I mentioned yesterday in a short interview with TeK Portugal, I already had experience in these negotiations in the previous Eureka presidency and helped in the last year also to stimulate the interest of European countries that are not yet part of the network, as well as countries outside Europe, such as Brazil, Argentina, Egypt and Singapore, which are expected to formalize their membership shortly.
This enlargement is considered fundamental since it is through the connection with other countries that Europe can strengthen its R&D network. Mariano Gago also highlighted the economic, political and scientific importance of this enlargement, but stressed that Eureka will continue to be a European project and that there will be no approved projects without the participation of European entities.
Another factor highlighted was the fact that the total number of projects approved by Eureka this year has also increased, but not as significantly as those with Portuguese participation. During the Portuguese presidency, 278 new Eureka projects were approved, an increase of 11.2%.
Mariano Gago also mentioned as positive that the economic crisis did not affect the investment of companies in R&D and that this investment is essential in a phase of greater economic contraction, an idea also underlined by European Commissioner Janez Potocnik in his speech.
«Investment in R&D is the smartest way to come out of the crisis stronger and better prepared for the future», said the European Commissioner.