From ugly duckling to unmistakable swan
In the 13 years (since 1998 when it was officially established) of the institute, INESC Porto has followed an astonishing path. What was once considered having the status of an ugly duckling is today the strongest component in the INESC world.
What is the secret, if there is a secret? We believe that it is the result of the meticulous and consistent implementation of a technology and science management model that in truth seems to have retained the genius intuition of its Portuguese founders, José Tribolet and Lourenço Fernandes, in the 80s.
On two levels: meticulous management and maintenance without diverging from the central model of generating knowledge and technology transfer.
Through its practice and success INESC Porto confronted the idea that technology transfer conflicts with the development of advanced science. On the contrary, the evidence today is that only with successful science is it possible to successfully transfer this knowledge.
Following a ministerial decree, the FCT has formally recognised and renewed INESC Porto’s status as an Associate Laboratory that no longer consists of just one institute, but a broader model with LIAAD, CRACS, UGEI and CISTER, as formal Associate Units. This statute will be recognised for 10 years. A fifth unit, HASLab (University of Minho), is awaiting evaluation by the FCT to also be integrated into the structure.
The new model now includes almost 600 researchers and 200 PhD holders. Pretty impressive, and this huge potential creates expectations. The great objective will be to manage the new Associate Laboratory following the same formula as that of INESC Porto. Policies and initiatives that bring internal cohesion and mutual knowledge and favour the development of synergies will need to be strengthened. The exact middle ground must be found between recognised autonomy for the Units in the Associate Laboratory and the expansion of the genetic make-up of INESC Porto into a wider universe.
It is clear that one of the key factors for cohesion is the creation of a unique identity that is recognised by all. Therefore, INESC Technology and Science – INESC TEC has been proposed for the new Associate Laboratory. Under this designation, which we hope the FCT will not delay in approving, everyone will be on the same team, regardless of their origin. The pedigree is not important, what is important is competence and supporting Portugal.