Our Story

Who we are

The Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) is a non-profit innovation institute of the University of Madeira, the youngest and smallest public university in Portugal.

It is located in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, an outermost region of Europe. M-ITI was conceived in 2000, formally integrated as a research group in 2007, and established as an Innovation Institute in 2010. M-ITI has also been a member of the National Associated Laboratory for Robotics and Systems in Engineering (LARSyS) since 2011. In 2015, M-ITI was named as a Public Utility Institute.

Education and Research

We operate in the interdisciplinary domain of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) encapsulating contributions from the disciplines of Computer Science, Psychology and Social Sciences, and Design, with the goal of engaging in important scientific and technological challenges.

We aim to expand understanding of human experience and interactive technologies through basic and applied research that is responsive to manifest real-world needs using multi-disciplinary collaboration drawing on varied perspectives.

Our Vision

We are a centre of design for global change, creating socio-technical systems suited to holistic challenges.

Global changes - in climate or demographics; labour systems or capital flows; sustainable resource management or energy efficiency; memes or pandemics - are happening at a pace that could not have been anticipated a few decades ago. Our planet’s newest mass extinction is being ushered in by the very same technologies and means of production that were the crowning accomplishments and best practices of our grandparents. It is clear that many of our approaches must change swiftly and radically. Yet our habits of thinking, organising, and living are largely configured to address the challenges and goals of prior epochs, and most of our tools still reflect and support those old habits. Our current technologies and material culture impede rather than enable our ability to live appropriately. We must mindfully design new materialities that foster inclusive, innovative, and reflective societies in a changing world.

M-ITI aims to step into the new millennium by developing tools, systems, and techniques better suited to address its challenges. In particular: the distribution and use of natural resources, the societal and personal use of energy, global inequality of resources and opportunities, and the relationship of production and consumption all require serious reform. Reducing inequalities and social exclusion in Europe, overcoming economic and financial crises, and tackling unemployment require new ideas, strategies, and governance structures that bring opportunities to the young and creative generations and leverage the reflective European society to position Europe as a global actor.

The long-term vision of M-ITI is an excellence centre of design for global change, aimed at identifying fresh approaches to the design of new technologies, new means of production, and new political configurations that are better suited to the global challenges of this century. Some of these challenges might be unique to Europe but others are shared by communities around the world. By projecting M-ITI into the future of challenge-based research we envision exploring, designing for, and at times even anticipating global critical situations and opportunities for change. Strategically placed at the intersection of the American, European and African sides of the Atlantic, M-ITI is poised to play a crucial role in connecting, exchanging, and contributing to the innovation across the continents with which Portugal enjoys a strong relationship. As a multi-disciplinary centre combining natural and social scientists, engineers, humanists, designers, and artists, its output will be focused on the area of applied science and human-centred technology. We will develop and share methods, working proofs, and "spin-off enterprises" focused on rebalancing the relationship of people and environment, production and consumption, the local and the global.

Our Mission

M-ITI will serve as a hub for a global network to ideate, co-create, test, and document new forms of local/global production for global challenges. The goal of these efforts is not just the generation of new understanding of problem solving in an era of cheap information, but also tangible proofs of organisation through the creation of enterprises that embody and engage in that problem solving. Our research will result in human/animal/technical networked systems that are both research platforms and, more importantly, working examples of global coordination and problem solving.

M-ITI’s research focus will be on developing techniques and technologies that:

  • Investigate how nature and communities are affected by - and technologies that can empower them to confront - natural, political, and economic global pressures - in particular supporting the transition to reliable, sustainable and competitive energy systems. This will lead to a climate change resilient economy and society and help to explore the opportunities related to aquatic living and marine research and bio-based industries for the blue economy;

  • Invent new design techniques to best respond to, or shepherd, complex and interrelated natural, social, and cultural global issues - that could help reposition Europe in a changing world through new ideas, strategies and governance structures that integrate and inspire the younger and more creative generations leveraging Europe’s cultural heritage to build a more inclusive, innovative and reflexive society;

  • Develop personal, business, scientific, and civic technological platforms for better understanding and situating actions, choices, and self in a global perspective - enabling the transition towards a green economy and society through eco-innovation and developing comprehensive and sustained global environmental observation and information systems.

Unique Research Infrastructure

M-ITI will develop a unique research infrastructure that leverages the identification and demonstration of breakthrough research and design situated outside of global urban capitals, including active research in, and with, the global south for which Madeira is one of the outposts for transnational EU cooperation. This research infrastructure will enable exploration of Future Coastal Urban Environments which have a particular relationship with the oceans by advancing sensing, communication, tracking and monitoring solutions to increase our understanding of the underlying resources and ecosystems.

This test bed will explore the potential of healthy marine ecosystems to provide a range of services with high potential social and economic benefits for the blue economy. The test bed will focus on building a symbiotic relationship between cyber-physical and ecological systems, thus becoming a platform for scientific collaboration between researchers interested in biodiversity, climate change, engineering, material science and design.

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