Event was chaired by Minister Manuel Heitor

The 1st Annual Meeting of Collaborative Laboratories (CoLAB) took place at the Cupertino de Miranda Foundation in Porto on 16th and 17th October. The session gathered 26 Collaborative Laboratories with the aim of promoting and monitoring their progressive evolution, as well as their integration in Portugal and Europe.

This initiative, organized by the National Innovation Agency (ANI) and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), was chaired by the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and had the active participation of about thirteen international experts, dedicated to different sectoral areas, who have followed the work developed by the CoLAB since its creation: Nicholas Veck, United Kingdom; Wolfgang Wahlster, Germany; Julián Florez Esnal, Spain; Egbert-Jan Sol, Netherlands; Hélène Kirchner, France; Kees de Gooijer, Netherlands; Joachim Tretzel, Netherlands; Konrad Mussenbrock, Germany; Mark Bucking, Germany; Thuy Le Toan, France; Bernd Hillemeier, Germany and Hans Werner Eirich, Germany.

Taking into account the context of the pandemic caused by COVID-19 and the measures of the Directorate General for Health, the session was held in hybrid format (face-to-face and online) and transmitted via live streaming.

The President of ANI, Eduardo Maldonado, welcomed the participants, and the meeting was opened by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa. The Deputy Secretary of State for the Economy, João Neves, the President of the Science and Technology Foundation, Helena Pereira, and the Secretary of State for the Enhancement of the Interior, Isabel Ferreira, complete the list of institutional attendances at the event.

The work started with the Coordinator of the International Panel of Experts, José Luís Encarnação, who initiated the presentations of the Collaborative Laboratories, organized by thematic areas: Health and Social Services; Materials, Circular Economy and Urban Sustainability; Agriculture; Energy and Sustainability; Biodiversity and Forest; Digital and Information Systems; Climate, Space and Oceans.

Each CoLAB had about 5 minutes to present its pitch and about 10 minutes to answer a set of questions. The session took place with an outstanding intervention and participation of the experts, who fostered a broad discussion of enormous relevance for the implementation and strategy of each of these CoLAB.

Eduardo Maldonado highlighted the importance of this event as a milestone for the future of the CoLAB, reinforcing that "the results and conclusions were excellent and we should be collectively proud" and adding that ANI "will continue to work closely with the Collaborative Laboratories implementing new dynamics and strategies". In the closing session, Manuel Heitor stressed the importance of each CoLAB, especially in crucial and economically fundamental sectoral areas, reiterating that "the Collaborative Laboratories fill an important space in the Portuguese National Innovation System".

This 1st edition of the Annual Meeting of CoLABS aimed to deepen the monitoring of the activities of the Collaborative Laboratories and their development in the context of regional, national and european research and innovation strategies, as well as to foster the debate on their role in the dynamics of innovation, job creation and qualified work in Portugal. The CoLAB have already created more than three hundred highly qualified jobs in Portugal, namely in the interior of the country, and are therefore well positioned to meet the objective of promoting 563 new highly qualified jobs by 2023. The work carried out by these entities has also resulted in successful cases of knowledge transfer to the economy, with impacts on internationalisation and the incorporation of technology into the business market.

ANI is the entity that monitors the implementation of the research and innovation agenda of all CoLAB. The process of recognition of Collaborative Laboratories is ensured by FCT.


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