During the visit of high-level delegation from Portugal led by their Prime Minister Antonio Costa to the CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), it was agreed upon to extend the existing collaborative research programmes as well as to initiate new programmes in the fields of marine robotics, global navigation systems and microbial biotechnology.
The Portuguese delegation was shown the autonomous underwater vehicle as well as autonomous vertical profiler developed at NIO, of which some of the control systems were designed in collaboration with Institute for Systems and Robotic, Lisbon, Portugal.
It was informed by NIO director Dr Prasanna Kumar that the collaboration has not only resulted in developing new technologies for oceanographic research that have led to filing of joint patents and commercialisation of the products for industrial applications but also in offering internships to Indian students as well as conducting an annual ocean robotics course for engineers from various institutes in India.
Under another MoU between CSIR-NIO and Space & Earth Geodetic Analysis Laboratory (SEGAL), University of Beira Interior (UBI), Covilhã and Instituto Geofísico Infante D Luíz (IDL), Lisbon signed in January, 2012, a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver has been established in NIO and a sea-level gauge installed at Dona Paula jetty which are being used for monitoring crustal motions in order to derive absolute or climate related signals in mean sea level.
Joint research between NIO and University of Azores on microbial biodiversity and biotechnology of hydrothermal vents has shown that bacterial isolates were able to tolerate high concentration of heavy metals like Mn, Fe and Sulphur and could synthesise more than 15 enzymes which are of industrially important. It is proposed that this research will be extended to molecular and mechanistic comparison on the role of gill endosymbiont bacteria in immune responses of the deep sea hydrothermal vent mussels.
The Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa highlighted the cultural and scientific exchange with India and expressed keen interest in extending the joint research programmes between NIO and Portuguese research institutions and assured his support in order to improve understanding of the oceanographic processes and utilisation of its resources.
Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, mentioned that “Portugal is keen on developing joint programmes with India in the field of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and also to look at deep sea resources.”
Besides the Prime Minister of Portugal and Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, the high-level delegation comprised Ambassador of Portugal in India, João da Camara, Consul General of Portugal in Goa, Rui Baceira, Chief of Staff of Prime Minister, Rita Faden, President of Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities, António Cunha, Diplomatic Advisor Prime Minister, Bernardo Lucena, Institute For Systems and Robotics, Luis Sebastião.