EURAXESS Members in Focus: Portugal

Categories: News

Tags: Europe | Portugal | Careers | Funding

Centuries of history and culture, and a prime location and Mediterranean lifestyle, make Portugal the right place to learn and do science. Speaking the language of the future, Portugal is a hub for creativity and innovation, a gateway to the world. It is a unique place to live and share good memories.

Portuguese research landscape 


With one of the oldest universities in Europe, the University of Coimbra, founded in 1290, Portugal has a long tradition in education and research. The country has also made significant progress in the last 25 years in enhancing its national research and innovation system, by extending its reach to a larger share of the population, by broadening its scope to all areas of knowledge, by fostering strong links with society, in particular with economic actors, and by always striving for excellent research as defined by international standards. In fact, the Portuguese research and innovation system is structurally internationalised, in part because of the relatively small size of the country and the need to share expertise with a broader community, but also because of the strong policy vision that we can only push the boundaries of modern science and technology in collaborative efforts, that have to go above and beyond national borders.

The main funding agency in Portugal is the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), responsible for the implementation of the public policies that arise from the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education. In 2016, the Government published its “Compromise with Knowledge and Science: the compromise with the future“, a strategic document that defined the policy ambitions up to 2020. Among them was the goal of reinforcing the scientific institutions, to expand and dignify the scientific careers, to continue the stimulus for internationalisation, and to develop, with the involvement of the scientific community, a set of research and innovation agendas in different thematic areas that should guide national policies up to 2030.

Facts & Figures

Portugal has 132 Higher Education Institutions spread throughout the country, supporting a community of almost 360 000 students, 12% of which are foreigners. In fact, the number of foreign students in Portugal increased by 95% in the last 7 years, a clear sign of the attractiveness of the country.


The national research and innovation system includes 307 research centres dedicated to all areas of knowledge, originating around 2000 doctorates completed each year, a 74% growth between 2000 and 2010. The strong and long-lasting support to S&T policies led to a 35-fold increase in scientific production in the last 25 years – actually, Portugal had the second highest average annual growth rate of publications between 2001 and 2014 within the EU.

The country also had a 45-fold increase in registered patents between 2001 and 2014. An innovation-friendly environment led to an annual rate of 31 000 new start-ups created every year, and almost 310 000 created between 2007 and 2015. This reflects a changing economic environment in the country, also reflected in the 130% increase of the technology-based firms between 2007 and 2010. To continue fostering this dynamic, the Government has recently launched the Collaborative Laboratories (Colabs), a new model of association between academia and the industry, where the main goal is to create skilled and scientific jobs in Portugal, both directly and indirectly, by implementing research and innovation agendas geared at creating economic and social value.

Bilateral and International cooperation

Portugal has a number of active, bilateral agreements in Science and Technology, most under the responsibility of FCT. These bilateral agreements normally support researcher mobility and, in some cases, collaborative projects.

International cooperation is a fundamental characteristic of the Portuguese Research and Innovation landscape.

About the Widening Fellowships

The results from the first years of MSCA in Horizon 2020 revealed the existence of a mobility gap across Europe and discrepancies between European countries in their ability to attract funding. To specifically address this gap in participation the new Widening Fellowships call will provide an additional opportunity to researchers of any nationality to acquire and transfer new knowledge and to work on research and innovation in Widening countries, including Portugal.

Along with the bilateral agreements, the country is an active member of several international organisations, such as ESA, which is a part of the national Space Programme, EMBO, EMBL or CERN. Portugal is also a very active participant in the COST programme, as well as in CYTED, the Ibero-american programme for science and technology for development.

Taking advantage of its historical connection to the ocean, of the privileged geographical location, and of the expertise that has been built during the last decades, Portugal has recently promoted the creation of the Atlantic International Research Centre (AIR Centre), an intergovernmental initiative to foster collaborative research activities on climate, land, space and oceans.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions at Portuguese institutions

Experienced researchers willing to move to Portugal can apply to an Individual Fellowship (IF) of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), irrespective of their country of origin.

Portugal is in the list of widening countries, and therefore, from 2018 to 2020, proposals above the quality threshold of 70% but not retained for funding through the MSCA IF call with a host institution in Portugal will be automatically reassigned to the Widening Fellowships call (unless the applicants explicitly opted-out).


Portugal as a destination

Besides its excellent universities and research centres, there are a number of reasons to justify the attractiveness of Portugal as a study and research destination. Not only the sun, the food and the friendliness of the people, but also the reasonable cost of living and of accommodation, the comprehensive health system, or knowing that the country has been among the top 5 countries in the Global Peace Index for a number of years now. In fact, there are at least 10 reasons to choose Portugal as a study and research destination. Find a job or a hosting institution and experience this beautiful country.