Campus and Community

INESC: 40 years promoting Science and Knowledge

INESC celebrates its 40th anniversary with an event that includes three sessions on the future challenges. The Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers (INESC) celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers (INESC) celebrates its 40th anniversary. The celebrations will start on 6th July, in Porto. INESC invites society, companies and academia to look at the future and to look back at INESC history.

The courage and willingness to contribute to change were the goals of INESC right from the beginning. In 1978, three young university professors, José Tribolet, João Lourenço Fernandes and Luís Vidigal, met at a conference in New York. What could have been a circumstantial conversation ended up being the beginning of INESC.

In October 1978, José Fonseca de Moura joined José Tribolet and João Lourenço Fernandes. In September 1980, INESC started its activities in Lisbon, at Rua Alves Redol, nr 9, 3rd floor. Instituto Superior Técnico and INESC started a close and fruitful collaboration that lasts until today.

INESC and professor José Tribolet, founder and president of the institution, are intrinsically linked. “These 40 years were a journey that started ‘yesterday’. Time flies for those who are focused on ‘making things happen’, who are guided by solid values and simple objectives, inspired by engineering, and focused on the present, but always with one eye on the future ”, says the professor.

According to professor José Tribolet, “INESC is the result of our trust in the Portuguese scientific work. Over these 40 years we have been experiencing successes and setbacks. (…) And we have learnt to maintain economic, financial and human sustainability. Without complexes and united in a common purpose”.

One of the most striking moments occurs in 1999, when the structure of INESC changes. The new structure – “INESC System” – is composed of the original INESC – and the five INESC centres that exist today: INESC Coimbra, INESC-ID, INOV INESC InnovationINESC MN and INESC TEC. According to  INESC president, this change turned out to be an evolution that “enabled the system to be agile, creating freedom and flexibility in adapting to the dynamics that have been occurring in the 21st Century”. “I am sure that INESC would not exist today if we had not evolved this way”, adds the professor.

“We have managed to combine basic and applied research at INESC-ID”- president of INESC-ID

INESC-ID was one of the institutions that resulted from this restructuring in 1999. “We are proud to do basic and applied research, aiming to have a positive impact on society”, stresses the president of INESC-ID, professor Inês Lynce.

“We have managed to combine basic and applied research. INESC-ID has a history of start-ups that cleary demonstrates it”, says the professor. “I believe that we are able to demystify the prejudice that research has no practical impact. There is also a real and tangible effort in the projects we develop in partnership with national and international companies”, she adds.

“The 40 years of INESC demonstrates the dynamism of science and technology in Portugal” – president of INOV (INESC Innovation)

“INOV was created in 2001 and inherited from INESC the culture, the modus operandi, the virtues, the errors: which allowed us to become known at national and European level”, says engineer Fernando Moreira, president of INOV. “INOV was an INESC spin-off. The technical and scientific team was already part of several units of INESC, in Lisbon”, he adds. “INOV has evolved as an Interface Center”, explains the engineer.

Engineer Fernando Moreira highlighted the impact of INESC on national research. “INESC contribution to education and training” is the great result of the work developed by INESC and its institutes. “The training and advanced training provided by INESC, prepared thousands of young people at different academic levels”, says the president of INOV.

“Scientific research at INESC-MN has always been based on INESC principles“, co-director of INESC-MN

INESC Microsystems and Nanotechnologies (INESC MN) was created in 2002. Professor Susana Freitas, co-director of INESC MN, recalls “INESC MN brought together the team that worked at INESC’s clean room, a unique infrastructure in Portugal, built in the 80s, by visionary people”.

The clean room has allowed INESC-MN to carry out a unique activity in our country”. This infrastructure has been maintained and updated with new industrial equipment, and we are very well positioned to execute national and international industrial contracts”, she explains.

“Scientific research at INESC-MN has always been based on INESC principles“, explains professor Susana Freitas, namely the link with universities and companies. “We offer advanced training in cutting-edge technological areas – the access to clean room is a good example of that. Currently, the clean room and the strengthening of hardware microfabrication skills is what sets us apart from the others INESC centres”, points out the professor.

“I hope that INESC continues to be a leading institution in technological innovation, prepared to invest on strategic areas for Portugal, linked to society, independent and visionary, as it has always been”, says the co-director of INESC MN.

A celebration that invites us to think about the future

INESC’s 40th anniversary programme invites companies, academia and society to think about the challenges of the future. “We really want to honour the past and shape the future”, says professor Arlindo Oliveira, director of INESC.

The celebrations will take place in the three major university centres: Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra. On 8th October, at 5:00, Lisbon will host the second session entitled “The ability to create new technology-based companies”.

A session will be held in Porto this Monday, at the Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto. Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, and the Prime Minister, António Costa, will attend the session that will focus “mainly on business and academia”, explains professor Arlindo Oliveira.

“Over the years, the activities of the various INESC centres have become increasingly focused on knowledge transfer, without neglecting the importance of basic research”, adds the professor.

“These sessions will allow the youngest and those who are not familiar with INESC to understand the importance of INESC to the development of our country”.

The secret to INESC’s success: People

According to professor José Tribolet, INESC is not alone “our academic institutions (Instituto Superior Técnico – Universidade de Lisboa, Porto and Coimbra) and our business associates have very actively ensured and defended our position of institutional independence”.

People is the secret to INESC’s success. “The code of conduct at INESC centres is to believe in people and in their potential”, says professor José Tribolet. “INESC is made of people who share our vison and who make things happen”, he adds.

Professor José Tribolet feels grateful, happy and accomplished to have helped create a solid institution. “I would say, without exaggerating, that at least 50% of my foolish ideas ended up working out well and brought measurable gains to our country. Obviously, INESC is the most important one”.