21 February 2017 | General
COST Actions turn the spotlight on Portugal
Part of the Portuguese research community participating in COST networks met the EU Commissioner for Science, Research and Innovation, Mr Carlos Moedas, in Lisbon on Monday, 20 February. The lunch event stressed the added value that COST networks bring to the European R&D landscape.
The debate focused on the importance of enabling researchers to have their say on policy impact and research funding programmes. This way, research policies can keep abreast of recent discoveries or emerging topics. The event itself was an opportunity for Portugal-based researchers to share their experiences in COST and discuss such issues with Mr Manuel Heitor, the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, MEP Carlos Zorrinho, Mr António M. Cunha, President of the Conference of Rectors, and Prof. Paulo Ferrão, President of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. COST networks offer open spaces for researchers to bring their own ideas to life and to define what the next research priorities should be.
Dr Ángeles Rodríguez-Peña, President of the COST Association, emphasised how COST attracts young researchers, giving them the chance to collaborate internationally. This makes it easier for them to establish a career in their home countries. “Through its networking activities, COST actually eases the pressure of going abroad for a better career. It actually reduces brain drain,” Dr Rodríguez-Peña added.
More than 20 success stories from Portuguese researchers involved in COST Actions were collected in a brochure and presented in a poster session during the event. Among them, Raquel Conceição (University of Lisbon) explained that her chance to lead a COST Action helped her achieve a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor just five years after completing her PhD. This allowed her to return to Portugal after 2 years as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, UK. Ms Conceição's COST connection also meant that Portugal was involved in a new area of research on breast cancer detection using radar UWB (ultra-wideband). She and her team received several awards for their application-oriented research and scientific work as young scientists.
Portugal is one of the best performing COST Inclusiveness Target Countries, considering COST Action leadership and its overall participation in networking activities. Researchers working in Portugal are currently active in over 90% of all the running COST networks.
The event was organised in collaboration with the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).