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CMU Portugal Session at Ciência 2021 Summit

On June 28th, the CMU Portugal Program held the Session “The contribution of the CMU Portugal international partnership for the high-tech ecosystem in Portugal” at Encontro Ciência 2021 Summit, a discussion focused on the importance of the collaborations established under the Program throughout the years, in order to promote an innovation ecosystem that connects highly innovative companies of the data-driven economy.

Encontro Ciência is the central Science Conference in Portugal promoted by the Ministry of Science Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) along with Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). This edition was organized in a mixed format both online and onsite, due to the current pandemic situation limited seats were available.

The session started with a brief presentation from Inês Lynce and Nuno Nunes, CMU Portugal National Co-Directors, who introduced in first-hand the brand new video of the 12 new Large- Scale Projects with an overview of the research projects that are now being developed under the Program and that are, for the first time, led by a Portuguese company.

To summarize the industry involvement of the Program since its beginning in 2006, José M.F. Moura, CMU Portugal Director at CMU, offered an overview of the initiatives established throughout the years to promote Industry collaborations.

Since 2006, CMU Portugal has promoted 74 projects, most of them in collaboration with companies extending the network of the program to over 150 companies. The involvement with companies is also supported by 168 Ph.D. and 247 Masters students directly supported by the Program’s research projects and PhD and Masters scholarships. From these, 80% of Masters and 54% of Ph.D. alumni are now part of leading organizations and companies.

Additionally, since the third phase of the Program which began in 2018, 16 CMU Portugal Industrial Affiliates have committed to actively contribute to the advanced education and research programs of the partnership by investing in R&D, in advanced training of human resources, and in building a highly-skilled workforce dedicated to innovation activities. CMU Portugal Industry Affiliates includes three Portuguese Unicorn companies (Farfetch, Talkdesk, and Outsystems), three CMU Portugal startups (Feedzai, Unbabel, and Veniam), and ICT leaders (Accenture, Altice, CEiiA, NOS, Priberam, REN, Remote, Tekever, Thales, and Uniplaces). Furthermore, Farfetch, Feedzai, Outsystems, and Unbabel reinforced their commitment to the Program by leading four out of the twelve CMU Portugal Large-Scale Projects that started in 2020. CMU Portugal has also been a hub for faculty members, students, and alumni to launch their entrepreneurial initiatives. The Program has supported the creation and development of twelve startups and these companies have created over 1,000 highly skilled jobs.

To offer a broad insight of the Program’s involvement with Industry, the session counted on the participation of four leading ICT companies with a strong bond to the Program that shared their point of view on this association: Farfetch, Feedzai, Mambu and Outsystems. These four companies, all valued above $1 billion, are all highly involved with the Program: some are part of the CMU Portugal Industry Affiliates list, others are Large Scale project promoters, or even startups created under the scope of the Program.

The discussion panel was composed by Luís Carvalho from Farfetch, João Abril de Abreu from Outsystems, Pedro Bizarro from Feedzai, and Sofia Nunes from Mambu who began by summarizing their involvement with the program and the advantages of this partnership. The discussion was moderated by the two CMU Portugal National co-directors, Inês Lynce and Nuno Nunes.

First, João Abreu who is responsible for the Innovation and Academic Relations at OutSystems, spoke about the company’s connection to the CMU Portugal Program as an Industry Affiliate company since 2018 and now leading the Large-Scale project GOLEM, an initiative to create enterprise applications with no code through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a rich set of language abstractions.

Luis Carvalho, Senior Vice President of Technology at Farfetch, introduced the company’s vision of the collaboration with the Program since 2018 as an Industry Affiliate company. The luxury fashion platform is now leading the CMU Portugal Large Scale project IFETCH and expects to revolutionize the whole online shopping experience by changing how customers access information and make shopping decisions.

Pedro Bizarro is co-founder and CSO of Feedzai, a company with a long-lasting relationship with CMU Portugal: it was the 1st startup created under the scope of the Program; leads the CAMELOT project; is one of our Industry Affiliate companies; both founders were visiting faculty at CMU; and Paulo Marques is one of the CMU Portugal Scientific Directors. Pedro Bizarro spoke among other topics about the importance of talent acquisition that is made possible through the Program and stated that CMU Portugal touched Feedzai in many different ways throughout the years.

Sofia Nunes, one of the Mambu founders, has a background in Clinical Psychology and holds a Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction, an interdisciplinary experience that Nuno Nunes pointed out as an advantage to launch the idea for the company that started as the result of the research work developed by Sofia and two other colleagues during the CMU Portugal Master at ITI in Madeira. The Unicorn company is now based in Germany.

The dialogue continued focusing on some key issues related to Industry and University collaborations, emphasizing strengths and challenges. The four representatives offered a valued perspective and inputs on how these collaborations may be enhanced in the future under the attentive eye of Manuel Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education who was in the audience. The topics under discussion will surely allow all participants to define some action items to implement in future initiatives.

For more information you can watch the full video of the session available on our youtube channel.

The CMU Portugal Program was also represented in other sessions, namely with Inês Lynce as moderator at the Session “Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Virtual Reality” (June 28 I 11:30-13:00),  Nuno Nunes (June 29 I 14:00-15:30) as part of the session “Research and Development in Creative Industries” talking about “The new European Bauhaus” and Faculty members Ana Paiva, Mário Figueiredo, Arlindo Oliveira, André Martins and Industry Affiliated companies Feedzai and Unbabel (June 29 I 15:30). Our Large-Scale project Bee2wasteCrypto led by FutureCompta in collaboration with Técnico, Carnegie Mellon University, 3Drivers and NOVA IMS also presented on June 29 by Ian Scott.

Additionally, Inês Lynce was interviewed by the Event’s organization on the importance of this Science Summit and the proficient work being done by the Program to build solid Industry collaborations.

Paulo Marques is one of Feedzai founders and has been highly involved with the Program since day one, being the first faculty member from Coimbra to be certified as an adjunct professor at CMU. He was the first Director of the Master’s in Software Engineering from the Portugal side and continues his affiliation now as a CMU Portugal Scientific Director. Here’s his interview at Encontro Ciência where he referred to the Program as a transformative initiative:

João Abril de Abreu from Outsystems, who was part of the CMU Portugal Panel was also interviewed after the Program’s Session:


To watch other sessions or interviews you can visit the Event youtube at: