The start of the new competition to finance scientific research projects in Portugal has been delayed. It opened on the Friday before Christmas, with a larger cash pie, but after a year without the FCT opening that line of funding. The money for this competition (which refers to 2023) is expected to reach scientists' pockets only in the second half of 2024, so some have estimated that there will not be another competition this year – breaking the annual funding pace called for by the Ministry of Science. Technology and Higher Education (MCTES). However, the FCT ensures that a new competition is scheduled to open at the end of 2024.
Portugal's main science funding institution, which operates within the framework of MCTES, announces in response to PÚBLICO that it should be held in “the fourth quarter of 2024”. This was also confirmed by the Ministry responsible for science. As for the amount, nothing has been determined yet. The financial envelope will again have a contribution from European funds, namely PT2030, but the FCT considers that “it is too early to announce a global value.”
Competition for research projects in all scientific fields is one of the main funding mechanisms for Portuguese science. The funding is allocated to about 630 projects that will be developed in Portuguese research centres – Allowing you to pay for materials, shipping or salaries for a maximum of three years.
Funds available in the competition
For ongoing applications, in reference to the 2023 competition which will be open until February 16 of this year, 140 million euros have been made available to support research projects – an amount higher than the usual 75 million euros in recent editions of this competition. The increased funding is also an argument from those responsible for the delay, as it has allowed the consolidation of funds from the PT2030 program and will allow the financing of a greater number of scientific projects in Portugal.
Criticism of the delay in opening the competitions continued throughout the past year, given that for more than a year no funding was allocated to national scientific projects through this competition, which is considered the basic national funding for collective work and research laboratories. The last competition was opened in February 2022, and the money was distributed to the funded projects at the end of that year. When the funds for this new competition are awarded to researchers, at the end of 2024, it will have been two years since the last funding for scientific projects in Portugal.
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