This brief note is aimed to provide sample background information about the increasingly relevant capacity for science and technology in Portugal and to introduce main issues for discussion about the challenges the country is facing to sustain the growth of science and technology and actively participate in international knowledge networks and flows.
Portugal has recently overcome its traditional gap in scientific and technological development and achieved the average OECD level in terms of the number of researchers per thousand workforce (i.e., 7.2 full time researchers per thousand workforce in 2008, while it was 3.5 in 2005 and only 1.5 in the late 80´s). Overall R&D expenditure more than doubled over the last five years (it was 1.55% of GDP in 2008, while 0.81% in 2005, and only 0.4% in the late 80´s). At the same time, the system of higher education has been reformed, the social basis for recruitment of students was enlarged and industry-science links were reinforced, together with business expenditure in R&D (which represented 0.78% of GDP in 2008, while 0.31% in 2005 and less than 0.20% until some ten years ago).
Opportunities around emerging themes for knowledge exploration and discovery, as well as for advanced training, represent continuous challenges for small and medium size countries and Portugal has experienced such opportunities through strategic partnerships with leading partner worldwide, in a way requiring further emphasis across a diversified set of areas, from deep sea biotechnology in the North Atlantic, to the internet of the future, and involving building further competencies in the nano- and bio-sciences, as well as in engineering systems, advanced computing and system complexity.