Site Selection magazine
twitter linkedIn facebook email email email
From Site Selection magazine, July 2015

Poised to Prosper

Higher education infrastructure and a new incentives regime nurture a new generation of R&D in Portugal.

Home to the highly ranked University of Lisbon (with 48,000 students) Lisbon's capacity for innovation is known worldwide.
Photo courtesy of Turismo de Lisboa

by Adam Bruns

June 2015 saw the staging of Innovation Week at the University of Lisbon, ranked No. 2 in the recently released SCImago Ibero-American Institutions Ranking 2015, which ranks universities across the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America and the Caribbean. That sort of penchant for progress displayed by Portugal’s institutions is merging with a new set of research incentives to create an inviting formula for corporate R&D.

Data from Eurostat show that Portugal’s concentration of researchers, at 17 per 1,000 active workers, exceeds the EU average by 70 percent. And Portugal ranks as one of the top countries in Europe for the number of PhDs per 1,000 inhabitants. This proficiency has caught the notice of the US government, which this year organized a life sciences trade mission to Portugal, also in June.

3B Research Group
The 3B’s Research Group (Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics) at the University of Minho is a lead institution of the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.
Photo courtesy of 3B’s Research Group

Among the mandates of Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), the national funding agency for science and research in Portugal, is to “bring science and business together, by encouraging business sector investment in R&D and involving companies in researchers’ advanced training and recruitment.”

Among the main financial grants and tax incentives now available in Portugal:

  • Portugal 2020 — R&D — Technology Research and Development (TR&D): Available until 2020, TR&D supports the increase of research and innovation activities undertaken by companies, aligned with a smart specialization of the Portuguese economy, a stronger bond between companies and research entities, as well as an increase in the knowledge-based economy.
  • Tax Investment Code — Tax Incentives System for Corporate R&D: R&D expenses from qualifying companies may be credited against the corporate tax liability as determined by the Corporate Income Tax (CIT), and up to that amount, at the following rates: (i) standard rate of 32.5 percent of the eligible expenditure of the accounting period, and (ii) incremental rate of 50 percent of the increase of the eligible expenses over the simple average of the two previous accounting periods up to a limit of €1.5 million.

In general, a base rate of 25 percent of eligible R&D expenses is offered as an incentive, with bonus percentage points offered for R&D projects that involve industrial research or cooperative projects between companies.

Cash grants of up to €1 million are available for qualifying expenses that include technical staff; acquisition of technical and scientific assistance, consulting and services; purchases of scientific and technical instruments and equipment; and costs associated with registration patents and utility models. For incentives that exceed €1 million, 25 percent comes as an interest-free loan and 75 percent is available as a cash grant.

Networked Minds

Such investments only improve an already attractive landscape of research assets. Among the leading R&D centers in the country are the following university/government-based institutions, which cultivate cutting-edge knowledge in several fields:

INESC (Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers) is a non-profit association dedicated to education, science incubation, research activity and technological consulting. Since its founding in 1980, INESC has served as a model for university-industry collaboration.

The University of Lisbonwas No. 2 and the University of Porto rose to seventh place in the SCImago Ibero-American Institutions Ranking 2015 released in April. Other Portuguese universities ranked in the top 50 are the University of Coimbra(25th), theUniversity of Aveiro(27th), the New University of Lisbon (31st), and the University of Minho (33rd).

Instituto de Telecomunicações has as its mission to create and disseminate scientific knowledge in the field of telecommunications.

INEGI (Instituto de Engenharia Mecânica e Gestão Industrial) as of January 2015 joined with IDMEC-Porto to form a single institution: INEGI – Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

Created in 1985 to provide an interface between academia and the business world of industry and services as well as public administration, under IT Telecommunications and Electronics, INESC TEC (formerly INESC Norte, INESC Porto and INESC Porto) has five poles in Porto (headquarters), Braga and Vila Real and 12 R&D centers.

The I3S consortium, headed by UPorto, brings together four institutions and researchers from several schools of the university. In a new building to be completed this year, the I3S will have a research focus in cancer, host interaction and response and neurobiology and neurologic disorders.

The International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, created in 2005 near Braga by the governments of Spain and Portugal, is the first, and so far the only, fully international research organization in Europe in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. It is situated close to the Gualtar campus of Minho University.

This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of AICEP Portugal Global. For more information, visit

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


Related Articles

Subscribe to Site Selection

Most Popular Articles

Site Selection online is a worldwide service of Conway Data, Inc. ©1983-2024, all rights reserved. Data is from many sources and not warranted to be accurate or current. To unsubscribe from our print magazine, contact Julie Clarke. For general inquiries, visit our contact page. For technical inquiries contact the Webmaster.