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Vibrant Country

A STRONG HEALTH AND RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT

Over the last 10 years, the number of scientific publications on health published by Portuguese researchers increased by 123% in areas such as diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, biomedical and pharmaceuticals sciences. This increase in scientific production and international co-publications was mirrored by an expansion in health R&D investment by 128% in the same time period.

Porto has a vibrant and innovative health research and innovation ecosystem, characterized by the presence of world-class institutions and scientists. There are 57 institutions with R&D in health sciences in the Porto Metropolitan Area and 117 in the Porto Catchment Area.

The University of Porto is the largest scientific producer in Portugal in health and biomedical sciences, according to 2017 CWTS Leiden Ranking (see the figure below). It has two leading faculties (Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmacy) and two university hospitals, C.H. Porto and C.H. São João, which are among the Top 3 Portuguese hospitals with the highest R&D spending. As a result of its joint research/training programmes with MIT, UT Austin, Carnegie Mellon University, and Harvard Medical School, the university is part of the most prestigious worldwide R&D networks in the fields of biotechnology and healthcare.

CWTS LEIDEN RANKING 2017 – PUBLICATIONS IN BIOMEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES IN PORTUGAL, 2012-2015 (WEB OF SCIENCE)

publications in biomedical



The Health Research and Innovation Institute (i3S) of the University of Porto, the largest of its kind in Portugal, with 56 research groups, more than 800 researchers and scientists and an annual budget of 20 million euros, has already won many international awards, such as Janssen Innovation Award 2016 and World’s Most Influential Pathologist 2015.

The Faculty of Biotechnology of the Catholic University of Porto hosts the Centre of Biotechnology and Fine Chemistry, a State Associated Laboratory. It is investing 50 million Euros with the American company Amyris in building a bioengineering research centre which will become a European Biotech Hub with more than 100 researchers by 2021.

The School of Medicine of the University of Minho hosts the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), which has more than 250 researchers producing more than 100 publications/year in international top-level scientific journals. Many of them have received national and international awards, such as L’Óreal For Women in Science Award 2017.

As to clinical trials, three of the five largest players in Portugal are located in Porto – IPO Porto, C.H. Porto and C.H. São João. Moreover, Hospital Prelada, a private hospital in Porto, is building the largest and most modern centre for Phase 1 clinical trials in Europe.

In terms of biomedical engineering, Northern Portugal has the first and only fully international research organisation in Europe in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology - INL. It is the Portuguese organization with the highest number of patents filed at the European Patent Office in 2015, followed by other entities in Northern Portugal such as the University of Minho, University of Porto, and A4TEC – Association for the Advancement of Tissue Engineering and Cell Based Technologies & Therapies. In addition, the University of Minho is leading a H2020 project which aims to build the Discoveries Centre for Regenerative and Precision Medicine, one of the largest centres in Europe in human tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, biomaterials and stem cells. The Centre will operate with strong involvement of the University College of London (UCL) and will have some research activities performed in the University of Porto.

The research organizations in Northern Portugal have been actively participating in FP7 and Horizon 2020 projects in health-related areas, with prominent shares in the national total both in terms of number and value (see the tables below).

FP7 HEALTH/IMI PROJECTS OF NATIONAL RESEARCH INSTITUTES IN PORTUGAL

FP7 Health/IMI projects of national research institutes in Portugal



H2020/ERC HEALTH/LIFE SCIENCES PROJECTS IN PORTUGAL

H2020/ERC Health/Life Sciences projects in Portugal



The Polytechnic Institute of Porto is carrying out a H2020 teaming project - Nortexcel 2020 - which aims at creating a research and innovation centre in Northern Portugal dedicated to the development of medical devices, support technologies and well-being solutions.

As to research infrastructures, five of the nine national research infrastructures of strategic relevance in biological and medical sciences are either coordinated or participated by organizations located in Porto or Northern Portugal:
  - RIS-HCP: Translational and Clinical Research Infrastructures Specialisation Platform - Health Cluster Portugal. The cluster members include prestigious research organisations such as Gulbenkian Institute for Science, i3S, Biocant Park, Champalimaud Foundation, plus more than 100 Portuguese health and pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and academic institutions
  - RNEM: Portuguese Mass Spectrometry Network
  - GenomePortugal: National Facility for Genome Sequencing and Analysis
  - PPBI: Portuguese Platform of BioImaging
  - TERM RES-Hub: Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

With regard to the healthcare industry, there are 17,992 life science companies in the Porto Metropolitan Area and more than 47,000 health-related manufacturers and service providers in the Porto Catchment Area (see the table below).

NUMBER OF HEALTH-RELATED COMPANIES IN THE PORTO CATCHMENT AREA (2015)

Number of health-related companies in the Porto Catchment Area


BIAL, a leading pharmaceutical company based in Porto, sells drugs to pharmacies in nearly 40 countries and has six new worldwide patented molecules. BIAL has been the entity in Portugal with the most international patents for three consecutive years during 2014-2016. It is also ranked 3rd among Portuguese companies with the highest R&D
spending.