INL celebrates the Iberian Science Day with a joint initiative between Spain and Portugal

November 17, 2023

On November 17th, INL celebrated the Iberian Science Day: “An ode to the long years of scientific cooperation between Spain and Portugal”. Fostering a broad reflection on this relationship, the initiative was structured around two core moments: the introduction of the new INL Director General, Professor Clivia Sotomayor, and The European Chips Act event. The programme brought together high-level representatives of the European Commission and leading experts from Research & Technology Organisations to explore the forward position of both countries in the semiconductor industry and their potential to be a catalyst in the European Chips Act.

Starting the event and focusing on the Iberian Strategy in the Semiconductor Industry, Lucilla Sioli, Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry in the European Commission, reinforced the importance of assessing and identifying the needs of the semiconductors’ industry alongside international patterns, like the US and Japan. Presenting the Pilot Lines for the Joint Undertaking (JU) and following the importance of a cooperation between research and the industry, Yves Gigase, Head of Programmes of the Chips Joint Undertaking, highlighted the steps towards the application of the work done by universities and the EU’s goals: with an increased budget of 4.175 billion euros, this is a unique opportunity for Europe to act jointly and strengthen manufacturing activities. Knowing that the pilot lines start with fundamental research, Gigase aligned with what Diogo Vaz, Advisor and Semiconductor Specialist in the Cabinet of the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education in Portugal, proposed an aligned strategy between R&T and Innovation projects. As leader of the Portuguese Strategy for Semiconductors, Diogo Vaz noted the important assemblage between national priorities, European funding and the evaluation of the Portuguese landscape. Finally, Domènec Espriu Climent, Director General of  Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI) also took part in the session that disclosed the main prospects for the sector, stating that Spain complies with the Pilot Lines for the Chips Joint Undertaking. 

Then, introduced by François Rossi, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board to the INL Council, the official introduction of Professor Clivia represented a starting point for INL’s renewed impact in the landscape of nanoscience and nanotechnology. With interventions from Madalena Alves, President of the INL Council and of the Foundation of Science and Technology of Portugal (FCT), Raquel Yotti, Secretary General for Research in the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and Elvira Fortunato, Minister of Science, Technology, and Higher Education of Portugal, this session highlighted the efforts made in the past and the motivations for the future of INL. Stating that Professor Clivia is the first woman and ERC grant appointed for this position, Elvira Fortunato outlined the core aspects regarding Portugal’s investments in scientific endeavours: attracting and retaining talent, as well as promoting more initiatives where Portuguese and Spanish researchers can meet and critically discuss crucial topics. The Portuguese Minister also complimented INL’s unique status, which is a fundamental aspect when complying to the PRR’s goals: using public and European funds to create opportunities and improving society.

Taking the stage to present the aim of her period as INL’s DG, Professor Clivia Sotomayor Torres wants to support the physical understanding of the world, stating that “We have a contribution to the knowledge economy”. The point of departure is subsumed in three  preoccupations: consolidating and enhancing the scientific excellence of INL; marking the contribution to broader geographical areas, as those of developing countries; identifying and fostering incursions in INL’s specialization areas of research. All these obey to a principle: “Make time to reflect”. According to INL’s DG, scientists have to strongly reflect on their work, as well as being attentive to the world around them. Then, assessing the organization, Professor Clivia saluted the excellence in the support activities, as well as the overall motivation to engage with a wider sector at the international level. Concluding her prospects for the future, the new step is consolidated: excellent research that “looks beyond the immediate return”. 

The afternoon was dedicated to the European Chips Act, with two sessions supporting the reflection on Europe’s competitiveness and resilience in semiconductor technologies and applications. Ricardo Ferreira, Research Group Leader at INL, and Francisco Diaz, Professor at Universidad de Vigo, discussed both INL’s presence and the Spanish Pilot Lines within the EU chips Act. Then, closing the event, Professor Paulo Freitas moderated The European Chips Act Round Table, with interventions from Yves Gigase, Bruno Paing (VO for European Affairs of LETI, CEA-LETI), Patrick Bressler (Director of the International Cooperation, Emerging Technologies of the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics), Jo De Boeck (Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer of IMEC), Mário Amaral (Portuguese Delegate to the Chips JU Governing Board), Pedro Martín Jurado (Chief Operations Officer at Sociedad Estatal de Microelectrónica y Semiconductores) and Ricardo Ferreira

The Iberian Science Day was a fruitful and enriching initiative, gathering experts and leaders with the aim of jointly transforming society, always in the frame of scientific excellence and technological innovation.