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Fraunhofer establishes new research center in Portugal

Germany-headed research institute Fraunhofer has announced that it has joined forces with Portugal’s national funding agency for science, research and technology (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia FCT) to establish a new research center focusing on the topics of smart agriculture and water management. The Fraunhofer Center is set to commence its work in Portugal at the end of 2018. Both parties have put their name to a cooperation agreement, signed in Porto.

Portugal is the ideal partner for Fraunhofer in terms of putting its smart agriculture concepts into practice. The country provides a wealth of scientific expertise, as well as the climatic conditions we need to supplement and expand our knowledge in this field. There’s huge potential for applying modern information technology to optimize processes in the agriculture and forestry sector. Our application-oriented research will benefit not just Portugal and Germany, but other countries across the EU as well, said Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Launch at end of 2018

The partners will be pooling their expertise in information and software technology, process and energy systems, as well as in sensors and new materials to tap into new applications for the digitalization of processes in the agriculture and forestry sector. There will be a particular focus on water management – availability, quality and recycling – extending beyond agricultural considerations.

Over the first five years, Fraunhofer and the FCT will each be contributing EUR 500 000 per annum of basic funding to the Center. Portugal will also be providing start-up investment amounting to EUR 5 million. A joint steering committee will put in place the operational framework over the coming months with a view to the Center commencing its work at the end of 2018.

The plan is for the new Center to work in close collaboration with the Fraunhofer Center for Assistive Information and Communication Solutions AICOS in Porto, which was set up 10 years ago, as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Saxony and Thuringia.

Building on collaboration

Both partners have also agreed to continue their successful collaboration in the work of AICOS in Porto, extending the Center’s funding to 2023. The researchers in Porto will be working closely with the new Smart Agriculture Center, providing IT and software expertise. Fraunhofer and the FCT are also looking to explore further collaboration schemes. Both partners have identified research into renewables and sustainable energy concepts as a potential avenue.

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