For more than three decades since the creation of INESC (in August 1980), the dynamics of various institutions that currently constitute the so-called “INESC System” and identify themselves with its fundamental objectives, has been showing solid signs of strength, giving each of them and, consequently, the whole institution, a great resilience and adaptability in the face of violent changes of political, economic, financial and social contexts emerged along the way.
The “INESC System” is based on an attitude of Service to its Members and Portugal, focusing on the willingness and ability of individuals that shaped the System in its current state: the professionals from the world of Science and Technology, mostly professors, researchers and students—from Universities and Polytechnic Institutes associated with INESC (Holding), from its different affiliated R&D Units (various INESC’s), as well as from, valuable and numerous, own subdivisions of INESC and its subsidiaries.
Amid the whirlwind of current activities, associated with implementing of R&D projects and contracts and providing specialized services, in the heavy flow of people, resources, partners, deadlines, evaluations and audits, and, additionally, amid the limitations that the crisis imposes upon us, in both the personal and institutional level, we ought to remain calm, to re-think our strategic objectives, to evolve our organizational forms, networks of relationships, re-founding—after critical, straight and courageous analysis—the purpose of our activity and the basis that justify it, ethically and morally, to our citizens and our Country.
We all lived a relatively long period during which we could have financial and material resources for our activities, conquered and attributed, in general, by merit. However, conducting the scientific and technological developments, we were not obligated to think and act being primarily motivated by the challenges of real Portugal. Justification of our goals, our activities, and our results was carried out nearly exclusively within the framework of the scientific system. All this has affected—and will continue to affect—the immediate future of us all.
Personally, I never supported this attitude and, to a large extent, INESC was an exception in this panorama! I believed and I do believe that today, probably more than ever, we have an obligation—individual and collective, in view of the Society to which we belong—to reduce the cost/benefit ratio of our activity.
And I know that we have the ability to align our goals, means and wills in order to contribute, in an explicit and timely manner, to the creation of wealth for Portugal in its various aspects—economic, social, cultural, and human.
I call upon for intensification of the active pursuit for value creation by scientific and technological activity, by training of dedicated human resources and by independent provision of expert services, so that we can boost the economic recovery and regeneration of the spirit and will of the Portuguese people. And this implies involving everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, in a committed attitude of responsibility for our society, from which the academicians and scientists cannot be excluded.
There is hunger in Portugal, there is unemployment, there is depression... There is a tremendous battle to be fought, for building a happy future for our grandchildren. Portugal of the Future will not come from outside but from within, conquering back its place in the outer world.
Today, just as in the epoch of the “invention” of INESC in 1979 and 1980, we must internalize that this national institutional system, this tremendous team of people of value, affiliated with the best national universities and polytechnic institutes and enriched by many prominent national and foreign researchers, is a mean to solve real and deep problems afflicting our Country. Though, we must revalidate the ways that we adopt today to organize ourselves and our work, in view of the underlying problems that we are helping to resolve.
At the same time, the “INESC System” must keep sound principles and practices which by themselves constitute a valuable assert for the future of Portugal. In INESC—as in many institutions that compose the national system of science, technology and higher education—the privileges are based on the merit; the labour is intensive; and people and their skills are developed in an environment of freedom and responsibility, seriousness, and honesty.
Not too much, some might say. But it is what we need in Portugal. We need to maintain and develop institutions of excellence that stake on the Portuguese people, that are guided by values, that are empathetic to the problems of our Portugal, that are demanding, that always seek quality in all dimensions of their activities.
Portugal is more than the sum of Portuguese as individuals, is more than a set of transient struggles of personal and selfish interests. Portugal is also the result of formal and informal actions and interactions of institutions in the midst of which the Portuguese citizens live, work, build their future and position themselves with respect to the individual and collective goals.
It is therefore important to recognize, orient, articulate and mobilize the Portuguese institutions in its various areas of activity; explain their rights and duties in the face of the society; include them in the sovereign, democratic and diverse governance of our Country. And all this because there is no Portugal without institutions.
The role of INESC in building the future of Portugal—apart from the obvious aspects related to the areas of knowledge in which it acts—is to continue to be an “ecosystem” of values and practices that enhance its vital role in the Portuguese society and helps to educate, each year, hundreds of young people, who need to and are empowered to pursue an ethical and morally responsible professional life.