Leaders of Braga public companies meet with INL for collaborative discussions

January 24, 2024

Executives representing five prominent public companies from Braga’s municipality gathered this past Monday, January 22nd 2024, for a pivotal meeting at INL. The visit was marked by a warm welcome from INL researchers and supporting professionals, with INL Director-General Clivia M. Sotomayor Torres hosting the delegation.

The primary objectives of the meeting were outlined by Sandra Cerqueira, Executive Board Member of TUB – Transportes Urbanos de Braga, who expressed gratitude to the INL Director-General for the hospitality and extended greetings on behalf of the attending members. The delegation, composed also by representatives Rui Morais and Paula Campos from Agere, Carlos Videira from BragaHabit, Gil Carvalho and Carlos Silva from InvestBraga, Joana Meneses Fernandes from Theatro Circo, and Teotónio Andrade dos Santos from TUB,  highlighted the purpose of their visit as a dual-fold initiative: to establish a first meeting of introduction with the recently appointed INL Director-General and to conduct a comprehensive review of past collaborations while exploring possibilities for future engagements.

The meeting, deemed essential for fostering strong partnerships between the public companies and INL, marked a significant step in aligning visions and strategies. Sotomayor Torres welcomed the collaborative spirit, emphasising the importance of sustained partnerships and open communication.

The discussions encompassed a retrospective examination of prior successful collaborations, such as an event branded “Hack-A-City” held in December 2019, which invited creative minds to explore ground-breaking tech solutions to be deployed in the city of Braga. Francisco Guimarães, IP and Knowledge Management Officer at INL, reminded the executives about this engaging and fruitful event, which included workshops on ways to find funding and methodologies to use cities as a testbed for technologies.

INL research group leader Begoña Espiña presented activities in the area of Water Quality, such as antifouling surfaces with nano/micro topographic modification, econanosafety protocols for material assessment, and adsorption of water contaminants by novel materials, using COF-covalent organic frameworks as an example. She also presented the project D4RUNOFF which aims to enhance water quality in urban areas. This project aims to create a framework for preventing and managing the pollution from excessive runoff water, which is increasing in urban areas due to climate change and can overwork and worsen the efficiency of wastewater treatment systems.

Highlighting the agendas within the Portuguese Resilience and Recovery Plan (PRR), Chief Business Strategic Relations Officer Paula Galvão described four of the 17 agendas in which INL participates. One of them is NGS (Next Generation Storage), catalysed by previous efforts from projects such as Baterias 2030 and the Portugal Battery Cluster, the core consortium then moved forward with this PRR agenda aiming for a complete electrification of mobility by 2035. The main challenge is to create a new technological ecosystem in the field of batteries that will position the national industry prominently in the global market.

Other PRR projects mentioned during this meeting, relevant due to the local industry involved in the consortia, included R2UTechnologies – “Modular System” Innovation Pact (R2U) which aims to create an innovative concept in the field of design, sustainability, customisation, intelligent buildings, and environmental protection.

Another PRR project involving local hospitals and health institutions is Health From Portugal, which aims to position Portugal as a world-class hub in the conception, development, and production of advanced solutions for the healthcare markets, focusing on four key areas: smart health solutions, health intelligent repository, improved clinical studies, and storage and benchmarking of clinical/economic data.

The BUILD project, a collaboration with the Braga City Council, was also presented by João Piteira, Systems Engineering group leader, during this meeting. The project aims to provide air quality sensors to citizens, specifically carbon dioxide sensors, which would provide data to map the concentration throughout the city of Braga.

The executives also engaged in pre-discussions about potential future initiatives, reflecting the commitment of both parties to advancing mutual interests in the area of arts and sciences, as well as in the aligned vision on public engagement. INL Science Communicator Catarina Moura presented ongoing engagements with the Braga Municipality such as the summer youth project called incluIR and the collaboration with Equilibrium Social Circus during their performance NanoCircus, scheduled for this Friday at INL. As Braga prepares to be Portugal’s Capital City of Culture 2025, INL is committed to continue bringing science to intermix with arts throughout the cultural activities of the city.

“We are thrilled to be here today, and look forward to our collaboration journey” stated Cerqueira, “it was a pleasure to have met Prof. Dr. Clivia Sotomayor and the rest of the INL team today”.

The INL DG echoed the sentiment, expressing optimism about the possibilities that could arise from strengthened collaboration. “We value the contributions of these esteemed companies, and we are committed to creating a conducive environment for future growth and social responsibility together” Sotomayor Torres remarked. The meeting concluded with a shared commitment to continued dialogue, setting the tone for a dynamic partnership with the public sector and INL.

Text by: Mariam Debs, Chief Operations Officer of the Research Office

Photography by: Filipa Bernardo, Conference Officer