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The Founding of ICTI – ICTI: Information & Communication Technologies Institute – Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon and Portugal To Launch Major Research and Education Collaboration
(Press release, founding of ICTI program :: October 27, 2006)

Carnegie Mellon University and the Portuguese government, through its Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, today announced plans to enter into a long-term collaboration to significantly expand research and education in the area of information and communication technologies. This collaboration will include an emphasis on information processing and networking, including applications to critical infrastructures and risk assessment, as well as complementary areas of applied mathematics, technology, innovation and policy.

The collaboration will result in the creation of a joint Information and Communication Technologies Institute, an international “virtual” institution with administration in Portugal and at Carnegie Mellon.

ICTI and the Carnegie Mellon-Portugal Program will involve professors, researchers and students from six colleges, eight departments, and six research centers and institutes at Carnegie Mellon and a large consortia of Portuguese research and education institutions, including 12 higher education institutions, four associate laboratories, one applied research institute and two governmental agencies.

Portuguese officials say these collaborations show the breadth of the Carnegie Mellon-Portugal Program and the high degree of enthusiasm demonstrated by the researchers and faculty in Portugal and at Carnegie Mellon.

An industrial affiliates program is also being planned. Portugal Telecom, the main telecommunications operator in Portugal, showed strong support for the development of the program, with other major national and multinational companies and a number of technology-based firms, including Critical Software, a leading Portuguese software company, committing to help define the program strategy and direction.

“The Portuguese government launched a technological plan as a political idea to mobilize the state, business and citizens around critical drivers of modernization: knowledge, technology and innovation. The duty of a responsible government with a look toward the future is undoubtedly to foster scientific and technological skills and to recognize the essential role of research and development activities,” said Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates.

“Carnegie Mellon is well-suited to collaborations with Portugal. Our partners have expressed an eagerness to pursue scientific and technological advances, particularly the opportunities created by an ever more connected world. We believe our agreement will mobilize people, knowledge and ideas to catalyze strong progress in communications technology, innovation and policy,” said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon.

The agreements are the result of a process started earlier this year, when the Portuguese government approached Carnegie Mellon and other leading institutions to explore possibilities for collaboration. The agreement signed today (October 27, 2006) in Aveiro, Portugal, came after months of assessment by Carnegie Mellon administrators and faculty, in consultation with the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

Portuguese Science Minister José Mariano Gago refers to this initiative as “a major step for the ongoing process of internationalization of Portuguese universities and to support innovative Portuguese companies and research laboratories at a global level.”

“This agreement with Portugal is an integral part of the international strategy for the College of Engineering and Carnegie Mellon CyLab,” said Pradeep Khosla, dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering. “It complements and strengthens our other existing international partnerships.”

“The government of Portugal has made a commitment for these partnerships, which will allow us to share best practices in many different fields which are Carnegie Mellon strengths. This is very exciting for all of us. We are very much partners in this effort,” said José M. F. Moura, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon. Moura also said the Carnegie Mellon-Portugal Program is part of a major initiative undertaken by the Portuguese government to strengthen the country’s knowledge base at an international level.

“Setting up a joint Information and Communication Technologies Institute among Portugal and Carnegie Mellon will strengthen trans-Atlantic cooperation in research and development, attracting new talents for science and technology, and fostering new developments in the complex interactions between information and communication technology (ICT) firms and Portugal’s social and economic fabric,” said Portuguese Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor. “It will be a unique opportunity to promote Portuguese research teams and institutions at an international level, together with the ICT industry.”

The overall budget for ICTI and the five-year collaborative project is about $77.4 million (USD). For its role, Carnegie Mellon will receive $42.6 million over five years. Corporate participants in the project include Portugal Telecom, Siemens Network, Novabase and a number of Portuguese technology-based companies.

Khosla said that the participation of Portugal Telecom is significant because it reflects the commitment of industry to develop and deploy techniques in information technology, networking and cybersecurity.

Henrique Granadeiro, chief executive officer for Portugal Telecom (PT), said, “We are looking forward to the participation of the PT Group in this venture, not only because of the involvement of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portuguese R&D institutions, and our industry partners, but also because of the role of Carnegie Mellon University, a world leader in the field of ICTs. We truly believe that this process will create new dynamics in innovation and training.”

“The agreement we are signing today represents another step forward regarding a new era for Portuguese technology development and innovation, and we look forward to work with our project partners,” said Rodrigo Costa, vice president of Portugal Telecom.

Rogerio Carapuça, chairman and CEO of Novabase, said, “The Carnegie Mellon-Portugal Program includes an important agenda, not only for universities and the research community but also for Portuguese ICT companies. Novabase is the biggest Portuguese IT company and, as such, is very pleased to contribute to the success of this program. Innovation is an embedded feature of our company and we hope to increase its quality even further within the scope of our activity as a Carnegie Mellon-Portugal industrial and institutional affiliate.”

“For a company like Critical Software, indeed for any technology-based SME company, knowledge and creativity are fundamental challenges. To face them we need the right context–a context where challenging and stimulating references are in place, best practices are well understood and the best teachers are available to teach us. This is what this program with Carnegie Mellon is all about. A fantastic opportunity to create the right context,” said Gonçalo Quadros, CEO of Critical Software.

With initial participation from about 40 members of the Carnegie Mellon faculty, the Carnegie Mellon-Portugal Program and the ICTI will have a research and education component. Students graduating from master’s or doctoral programs sponsored by the government of Portugal will have earned not one, but two degrees: one from Carnegie Mellon and the second from its Portuguese partner. The program will operate on an ambitious timeline, with the education partners planning to enroll students for the start of classes in fall 2007.

A separate research component will focus on scientific areas, including information processing and networks, critical infrastructure and risk assessment, applied mathematics and technology, innovation and policy. Moura will direct the ICTI at Carnegie Mellon. The director of the ICTI in Portugal will be nominated in the coming months.

Attending the signing were senior Carnegie Mellon officials and leaders from industry and Portuguese academic partners.

Read coverage about the creation of ICTI in Carnegie Mellon’s Piper (November 2006)

View the original press release