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José Manuel Mendonça was invited to TEDxPorto to explain how Science is "vital" to our legacy – but "requires investment"

Following the word "Legacy", this year's edition of the TedxPorto conference brought together many hundreds of people who, at Alfândega do Porto, witnessed 14 outlooks on "how to make the world better" for future generations. José Manuel Mendonça highlighted the role that Science can play in this endeavour. But for this to happen, politicians "must believe in science and rely on it".

06th May 2024

"The Science of today is the technology of tomorrow and is the economy of the day after tomorrow". José Manuel Mendonça took the TEDxPorto stage to highlight the central role that science and knowledge must play in overcoming the challenges we face. And there are many challenges to address. To overcome them, the key may lie in the capacity to innovate, but also in "solidarity, cooperation, and solidity between people, institutions, and society".

The 15-minute speech by José Manuel Mendonça, who led INESC TEC for almost 20 years, was a journey from the Industrial Revolution to the present, with stops for innovative ideas in the field of forest conservation through long-term investment towards environmental and social impact, and a brief incursion into our valuable legacy in renewable energies – particularly since Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula hold a "prosperity of wind, sun and water at their disposal".  

In the message that passed to the twelve hundred people who were at Alfândega do Porto, a challenge: "Science needs investment" and is the catalyst to "increase the complexity of the economy, increasing productivity and the wealth produced". "Advances need investment. In Portugal, the number of pro mil active researchers left the tail of Europe, surpassing Spain, and the European average. Now, it's crucial to increase the investment per researcher, so that the economic impact and social relevance of our science are world-class and the investments they make are more recognised ", he said.

But if "Science is central to our legacy", it must reach those who decide. José Manuel Mendonça, who led INESC TEC for almost 20 years and bridged the gap between knowledge and the economy, stressed the need for "politicians and top managers to be anchored to reality": "And, as this reality is explained by science, politicians must believe in science".

José Manuel Mendonça's communication followed that of environmental activist and biologist Andreas Noe and activist Joana Guerra Tadeu. The panel was closed with the participation of Ricardo Conde, president of the Portuguese Space Agency.

This was the 13th edition of TedxPorto - which, over the past 14 years, welcomed 280 speakers and brought together more than 15.000 people.