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INESC TEC and APDL celebrate 20 years of partnership

INESC TEC and the APDL (Port Authority for the Ports of Douro, Leixões and Viana do Castelo, SA) signed an addendum to their cooperation protocol during the Business2Sea, formerly called the Sea Fair. This year the initiative took place at the Alfândega do Porto Congress Centre on November 16.

Two decades of successive contracts formalised at Business2Sea on National Maritime Day

The two institutions thus celebrate two decades of a relationship that has been actively contributing, from the beginning, not only to the competitiveness of the activity of ports but also to the competitiveness of the Portuguese economy, particularly in the territory served by the APDL.

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Celebrating the Portuguese maritime tradition
Portugal has a long maritime tradition and the sea is still considered a key sector for the national economy. However, the maritime expansion is now done differently: no longer are we using ships; now the oceans are conquered using robots and sensors. In an event that promotes the dissemination of projects, studies and knowledge related to the sea through thematic conferences and business meetings, presenting sea-related technologies, and fostering relations between public authorities, companies, universities and R&D centers, national and international associations, between 16 and 18 November INESC TEC shared the “stage” with the APDL to celebrate two decades of joint work and innovation in the port area.

It is a lasting and, above all, fruitful relationship. Proof of this is the number of projects where the two institutions worked together, which were divided into six different themes at the event’s exhibition area, the so-called “Six Tides of Innovation”: Porto Node, Logistics, Internationalisation, Sea, Waterways and Extended Gateways.

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For António Gaspar, coordinator of INESC TEC’s Centre for Information Systems and Computer Graphics (CSIG), “over the years, the APDL has positioned itself as a key player in the innovation ecosystem, involving business partners and organisations in the national science and technology system. This  ecosystem has matured, leading to the development of several products, such as the 3PORT or the creation of companies like MITMYNID [see box], demonstrating that through innovation it is possible to create value for the port authority business and for the surrounding area, and also for the economy in general, as national solutions are increasingly exported.”

The company MITMYNID was created as part of project WIDERMOS. The team working on the project felt that there was a market for global electronic logistics services and developed a product called Logistics Single Window (LSW). Thus the team created a marketplace of interoperable logistics business platforms, offering collaborative door-to-door logistics services. The company, launched in early 2016, presented its LSW product at Business2Sea. It is led by former researchers at CSIG, more specifically Rui Barros, Marco Amaro, Paulo Melo and Alexandre Carvalho.

Following the results obtained as part of this collaboration, there was a need to support the internationalisation of results, which is the main focus of the addendum to the collaboration protocol.

The signing ceremony was ratified by the Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ana Paula Vitorino.

Benefits for the Portuguese Economy

The Business2Sea started on November 16 at 9:30 am with an Opening Session and a Commemorative Session of the National Maritime Day, where it was stressed that there is an “absolute need to keep the Port of Leixões as one of the most important in the country, and strengthen its capacity to stand out internationally, because by increasing its capacity, each port is also increasing the country's capacity and the national logistics system.”


Recognising the importance of the North of Portugal for the Economy of the Sea and its role in the Portuguese economy, in 2016 INESC TEC, the APDL and CIIMAR (the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research) joined forces in an exhibition area where the institutions showcased different technologies, as well as projects developed jointly.

INESC TEC in particular has focused on five innovative projects which contributed to the so-called Economy of the Sea: 3Port (a tool that makes it possible to manage the various needs and business processes of port authorities in an integrated way, and also to interact with the general public, which can, for example, see in real time what is happening in the port), TURTLE (the first underwater robotic platform for the deep sea in Portugal), MARES (a platform that makes it possible to control water quality and to monitor structures), JANUS (a box used for shore-ocean communications) and BYRD (a drone to monitor terrestrial and maritime electrical infrastructures).


INESC TEC projects allow greater presence at sea

But INESC TEC was not just represented at the Business2Sea’s technology exhibition. In fact, the institution was also in charge of organising three conferences related to projects developed by INESC TEC researchers.

The scientific conference of project STRONGMAR, organised by INESC TEC’s Centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems (CRAS), titled “A Sea of Science”, provided a forum to discuss several scientific and technological aspects related to the deep sea. The conference featured presentations from several experts from the UK and Portugal, including Pedro Jorge, a researcher at INESC TEC’s Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP), and Eduardo Silva, coordinator of CRAS. Featuring top foreign institutions as partners, project STRONGMAR is led by INESC TEC and its goal is to train researchers in the fields of marine science and technology.


Another conference, titled “Wireless Energy Transfer and Broadband Communications at Sea”, was organised by INESC TEC, IPMA and MARLO. The conference focused on the EEA Grants projects BLUECOM+ and ENDURE. The main goal of the BLUECOM+ is to connect humans and systems in remote ocean areas using low-cost broadband communications. With ENDURE, on the other hand, the idea is to develop an underwater docking station for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that will allow them to stay at sea for long periods of time.


Finally, the last conference, called “Six Tides of Innovation”, was organised by the APDL, CIIMAR, INESC TEC and the Porto Business School. This conference featured the six innovation dynamics – Porto node, waterways, extended gateways, networks of logistics services, sea and internationalisation, which were also represented in the exhibition area. Projects developed in partnership with INESC TEC were addressed at this conference, such as the 3PORT (port management), Douro’s Inland Waterway 2020 (electronic infrastructures to support navigability in the Douro river), MIELE and WIDERMOS (electronic services for port logistics).

The INESC TEC researcher mentioned in this article is solely associated with this institution.

INESC TEC, November 2016

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