Brussels, 31 Mar 2003
The Portuguese Minister for Science and Higher Education, Pedro Lynce, has reaffirmed his government's commitment to investing in science with the announcement that the ministry is considering opening 20 new Ciência Viva (Science Alive) research centres.
Mr Lynce has said that proposals for such centres are currently being examined, although it is not guaranteed that they will all receive funding.
'To retain only the existing life science centres is not enough. It is essential to increase and widen the net,' said Mr Lynce.
The 'spreading of science' initiative was started by the previous government's Minister of Science and Technology, José Mariano Gago, and since the change of government in March 2002, some cuts have been made to the initiative's budget. Mr Lynce is however optimistic about the amount of government funding for the new science centres: 'I am in no doubt. The government will not stop investing until they [the Science Alive centres] have reached the most remote parts of the country. They are vital.'
The government believes that such institutes can help to raise Portugal's scientific reputation. 'Today we have recognised researchers at international level. If we want to guarantee continuity, we have to start early and that is why these centres are essential,' said Mr Lynce.
He also emphasised the role that the centres will play in increasing the popularity of science within Portugal: 'Today's young people like learning - learning through experimentation. The old concept of a scientist has disappeared. Today any one of us is potentially a scientist. It is therefore necessary that this potential is cultivated when they are still young.'