Digital Media

Interdisciplinary research,
education and capacity building

The collaboration between The University of Texas at Austin and several Portuguese universities has resulted in several academic relationships and mutual benefits on several fronts.  The sharing of faculty and graduate students has broadened many aspects of programs in both countries and laid a solid foundation on which to deepen pedagogical, research, and practice-based explorations of digital media innovations. 
The goal is to enhance Portugal’s graduate programs and research and entrepreneurship in digital media so that its quality will become internationally recognized.  The program will help to identify Portugal as a leader in this field and a site where innovation and originality flourish.  The collaboration seeks to foster a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship, for example by working directly with media industries, as well as to provide the academic foundations and training for excellence in the next generation of digital media.  Building international networks of scholars and researchers, practitioners, and companies is a principal product of the collaboration, as noted in the Academy of Finland’s assessment report; the interdisciplinary strength of UT-Austin and the collaboration of several renowned departments across the University will facilitate a comprehensive approach, even as the media environment of Austin can provide important opportunities for training in industrial contexts and research settings.  One aim is to strengthen the programs that have been created and to push into additional entrepreneurial efforts that will more tightly couple academic research with applied and commercialization opportunities:
·      Continue to build capacity for undertaking interdisciplinary research and graduate education in this field by supporting high caliber graduate degree programs and creating collaborative US-Portugal research opportunities; extend training to include entrepreneurship, and in concert with UTEN identify other related opportunities;
·      Cultivate an entrepreneurially driven critical mass of activities, opportunities, test beds and expertise in Portugal in the digital media domain by uniting and sharing efforts among several universities and companies as well as research institutes including the Fraunhofer Institute in Porto;
·      Bring international recognition to Portugal as a country where cutting edge research and exploration occur in digital media projects and applications in gaming, design, citizenship, advertising, tourism, education, journalism, art, music and related fields;
·      Create environments such as conferences, festivals and schools where innovative collaborations and original ideas can be fostered and tested with a particular focus on improving quality of life, exploring new applications,  and fostering civil society through digital tools; an important product of these efforts includes stimulating national and international collaborations and consortia;
·      Work with industries utilizing digital media in Portugal to explore new products, services, and formats, with a focus on the Lusophone community.
These efforts build on the strengths of UT-Austin as the originator of the UTEN program and the home of a degree program in technology commercialization and a well-established research institute specializing in technology commercialization, as well as its premier position in Latin American studies, with core strengths and networks in Brazil.  The University of Texas
At Austin has the top-ranked Latin American Studies program in the U.S., attracting talented scholars from all over the world and now boasting a critical mass of more than 100 faculty members specializing in Latin America, with special emphasis on Brazil.
Accomplishments 2007-2010
The original CoLab program, the smallest of the U.S. university-based collaborations that Portugal crafted, was remarkably productive during its first years. Citing its publication and student accomplishments, the Academy of Finland assessment noted that the UT-Austin |Portugal “input-output ratio…is better than that of the other two Programmes, because the budget…is lower” (p. 22).  Envisioned as creating a program that would alter the academic and research landscape for Digital Media, the report continues that CoLab was “particularly successful in promoting project collaboration.”  Creating a network of international scholars and researchers, including a critical mass of program students in Austin, has helped break through disciplinary isolation and inculcate a global presence. 
CoLab accomplishments across the previous five years include:
1.     Creating a Ph.D. program at the University of Porto and at the New University of Lisbon; supporting an expanded MA program in Multimedia at the University of Porto;
2.     Supporting opportunities for Portugal-based students to come to The University of Texas at Austin for a dual degree as well as for research and education; the three-year old doctoral program has brought about 63 students to UT-Austin to date; a summer institute series of intensive short courses, available to enrolled students as well as working professionals, at both of these universities, with formal course credit available if desired;
3.     Developing a program of professional internships for Portuguese students and Zon prize winners in Austin-based businesses or at the University;
4.      Contributing to Portuguese digital media companies:
-     Through research projects involving business affiliates;
-     Through workshops and lectures held country-wide (UTEN; lectures from faculty at company and public sites);
-     Through the visit of UT Austin-affiliated business consultants to University-based digital media startups (UTEN);
-     Through internships of Portuguese researchers and professionals in Austin-based companies;
-     Through the incubation of companies, such as YDreams in the US market.
5.     Initiating post-doctoral and faculty exchanges;
6.     Instituting a program of co-teaching Portugal-based courses for doctoral and MA students, uniting UT-Austin and Portuguese professors in teaching;
7.     Supporting ongoing FCT-funded collaborative research projects focused on innovations pertinent to media industries and media policies, bringing together UT-Austin and Portuguese researchers;
8.     Successfully implementing international festivals and schools
9.     facilitating international events, including  futureplaces: digital media and local cultures; and ISDT: International School for Digital Transformation);
10. Creating a Zon-sponsored laboratory focused on enhancing the production, animation, and writing skills of Portugal’s next generation of media makers;
11. Sponsoring regular visits to and from Portugal by scholars and others offering lectures, keynote speeches, and workshops on contemporary digital media subjects through venues such as the UFrame Film Festival and the Design and Computation series in Lisbon.
Goals for 2013-2017
The convergence of telecommunications and computers spawned the Internet in the late 20th century, and with it a raft of new technologies and services.  Society is now at the point of raising children who are “digital natives,” growing up entirely accustomed to using digitally based technologies for communication, work, recreation, and many activities of daily life.  For digital natives, creating visual, aural and other information or entertainment content now is a basic skill, perhaps comparable to what writing was in the 20th century.  Additionally, they expect to be able to participate and intervene in information processes, by asking questions, adding information and opinions, even as they want to access relevant data, people, organizations, and institutions.  Processes and practices of using and generating information in compelling ways, demonstrating usability, aesthetic appeal, and a narrative sense, are growing in importance. 
This has resulted in large-scale organizational changes among many industries, not just media entities.  The need to incorporate new ways of working with information cuts across many fields, making digital media a crossroads for entrepreneurship and innovation. 
In essence, digital media have helped organize new systems of participation and knowledge, facilitating the seamless creation of networks that create new varieties of economic and social capital.  Participating and creating are germane to social life and work in the 21st century, and both types of skills assume important roles in nearly all aspects of life, even while abilities to research their impact and understand their economic impact have lagged. 
Even five years ago when the UT-Austin-Portugal partnership began, the transformational scope of digitization and media was unanticipated.  The rapid rise of wire line broadband and wireless penetration in the U.S. and Europe has been replicated in many industrialized and developing countries and epitomizes the presence of entirely new categories of economic endeavors.  Broadband is the canvas for entirely new social and economic transactions.  
New opportunities are disruptive to old business patterns.  Conventional media industries are grappling with new platforms for engaging audiences and users as well as for generating their own content. Digital media have been disruptive as they reshape economic activities in publishing, music, news, television and film, retailing, advertising, and research, among many other domains.  Content is “consumed” on mobile phones, on conventional televisions, on computer screens, on tablets and smart devices, and people expect access to it from wherever they are.   Newly obtained literacy among users challenges media industries; newspaper publishers, for example, are aggressively exploring ways to integrate blogs, video, and online content with their conventional print models.  Indeed, some newspapers in the United States are now available only within Facebook, certainly a harbinger of the future centrality of social media.     
Basic digital service infrastructures in the domains of education, government and health, among many others, also are adapting the capabilities of various digital systems, particularly those reliant on broadband connections, to improve their productivity, to broaden their reach, and to enhance their capabilities.  Organizations and governments around the globe are innovating and adopting new tools to extend their services and broaden their reach to regions that might ordinarily lack access and to achieve greater productivity and efficiencies.  In the United States there is a rush to develop these new applications and services, particularly in the health field. 
Several digital media innovations, disjunctures and opportunities alike, constitute priorities for the CoLab partnership’s research and education efforts.  The program focus includes the following.
Video Games:  This will be one of the new areas of development in the second phase. Computer video games have emerged as perhaps the most popular form of interactive entertainment in the past decade.  The videogame industry has been a driving force for researching new technology that is rapidly expanding into other markets (Serious Games), like the medical industry.  Computer games have become ubiquitous and can be played with virtually any digital personal device, namely laptop computers, mobile phones, smartphones, and of course portable gaming consoles.  The World Wide Web has become an important asset for developing games that connect thousands of users worldwide, and several popular games can now be played via web browsers or in social network applications such as Facebook.  Video game industry revenue surpassed film industry in revenue in 2008 [1] and was over $100 billion in 2010 worldwide.
The videogame industry in the United States is well established, whereas in Portugal it is still at its infancy.  Education and research in videogames combine fine arts and technology to create new methods, processes, tools, and content. If a cultural aspect is added to these factors, the impact of videogames in society can grow exponentially.  Thus a joint collaboration between Portugal and UT-Austin can instill in professionals and researchers new forms of communication. Portugal can benefit immensely from the experience of the well-established videogame industry at Austin, since numerous videogame companies are currently established. 
The College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin has a new facility dedicated to videogame production.  This is ideally suited to new work within the UT Portugal program. 
At the University of Porto, computer games have been given special attention in the Computer Science, Engineering, and Multimedia programs. There is a substantial course offering in this area, especially in the development area. One of the most successful products from the first round of research projects within the UT Austin | Portugal program was “GimmeDaBlues,” an iOS application/game that allows users to play a Jazz quartet in Blues style. This application won 1st place in the ZON competitions for multimedia applications.  The School of Sciences (FCUP) currently has a research center founded by Veronica Orvalho that is equipped to do research for the entertainment and medical industries. The center currently counts 26 members, and the research projects are directly related to the videogame industry.  Some projects also research new techniques and methods to create videogames for people with communication problems.
At UNL there are several projects that deal with gaming in multiple settings. Games for mobile devices and including augmented reality have been developed as part of MSc and Ph.D. degree programs.  Persuasive gaming and interaction with the real world are also part of the current interests of both faculty members and students. Undergraduate students have also been developing casual games in courses such as Multimedia Content Production. Previous activities in the program related to gaming, such as the Design and Computation series, led to additional research collaborations and presentations in conferences.
However, the areas of game design and music and sound for games are virtually non-existent at U Porto. In the second phase of the program, the support of UT-Austin would be instrumental in establishing a strong video gaming presence in the Digital Media/Multimedia programs at U Porto and UNL with the support of the recently appointed Game Design and Development group, which has faculty members from Computer Science, College of Fine Arts and Radio, Television and Film.
Creating content:  Creating content for new platforms is a priority in all media industries and the object of a great deal of entrepreneurial activity around the world.  For example, regarding the young social media domain, 90% of marketers now rate social media as important for their business, and 77% of them plan to increase their use of YouTube and video marketing (Social Media Examiner, 2011).  We live surrounded by thousands of devices with computing power and user interaction capabilities.  Ranging from mobile phones to smartphones and iPads, from TV screens to digital billboards, from car navigation systems to digital signage, these myriad devices present an opportunity to interact with people.  Moreover, by taking advantage of the plethora of sensors included in those devices, like GPS, accelerometers, and compasses, together with the huge amount of information shared among devices and in people’s social networks, interactions can be established exactly where and when people most need them to happen, and conveying the adequate content. 
Therefore, a totally new way of creating content is needed to accommodate this arising paradigm of information exchange.  Accessing news on a mobile phone, for example, requires a different way of writing and a different appreciation of how, when and where people read.  Even something as conventional as a broadcast television program now requires producers and programmers to consider accompanying social media campaigns.  News and public affairs outlets must master the utilization of increasingly available and important large datasets that must be rendered into visually interpretable information; UK newspaper The Guardian’s transformation into a premier data visualization site demonstrates this new priority.
Mediamakers in all areas are acquiring new skills and perspectives as they work across platforms and formats.  For example, serious games are being developed to blend learning with the intrinsic motivation processes that pleasurable activities activate; music, audio and gestural innovations are radically altering interfaces, and mobile applications constitute a new tier of development efforts garnering large industry investments. The University’s College of Communications’ new Gaming Academy offers the chance to provide cutting edge education and opportunities around developing serious games.  
One unifying element drawing together all such efforts is the centrality of storytelling, and digital tools enable new modes of storytelling that are evolving.  Cross-media franchising efforts and developmental endeavors in media worldwide look to innovative storytelling as a core innovation.  Organizing information, especially with metadata, graphical, and locational detail, likewise assumes new applicability and urgency.  These interdisciplinary problems require the collaboration of artists, information architects, computer scientists and engineers, human-computer interaction specialists, filmmakers and videographers, and knowledge of the media industries. 
Both of the core collaborating institutions in Portugal, U Porto and the New University of Lisbon (UNL), specialize in exploring using digital tools for storytelling.  UPorto has focused on web documentary and communication science, as well as sound design for film and new media in particular; UNL programs have emphasized educational applications and computer-based innovations useful for the evolving profile of media industries.  Both are poised to work more intensively with industries to deepen these capabilities.  We note that several other Portuguese universities should join these efforts and share their own expertise as well as take advantage of curriculum and research opportunities to develop 21st century storytelling.  Publico, RTP, Porto Editora, and Zon are particularly interested in the new demands of online media and new modes of conveying information, and may be interested in experimenting with alternative platforms and pilot efforts.  Specific course- and research-based topics that will be addressed in Phase Two speak to these broader issues:
·      Media production of television and film, transmedia, and information architecture
·      Science Documentary
·      Participatory Media in E-government and in Science Communication
·      Music and technology
·      Animation and visual effects
·      Design and arts
Media industries and the new digital literacy:  Some industry analysts predict that more people will obtain online access through their mobile phones (and tablets) than through PCs by 2016. Already that trend is becoming evident in Portugal:  Currently approximately 2.3 million users in Portugal use mobile broadband Internet; Anacom reported in 2010 that a little over two million households have fixed broadband, while another 30 thousand use dial-up services (Anacom, 2010).  The larger cities in Portugal are wired for broadband but high speed access is spottier in rural regions, and this probably accounts for Portugal’s somewhat lower overall Internet penetration figures as a percentage of population compared to the entire European Union - 50.7% versus 71.5% average for the EU (Internet World Stats). 
The rapid diffusion of mobile access to the Internet embodies the challenges many media industries face.  Adjusting to the new media consumption modalities entails different ideas about selecting and presenting content as well as new processes for creating and organizing it.  The advertising industry, for example, has altered its expenditures dramatically in the past decade, severely reducing investment in print and increasing its investment in the Internet, a pattern repeated in all countries with substantial Internet access (see below). 
Global Advertising Spending by Year and Medium (Zenith Optimedia, October 2011)
Total (millions, US dollars)
Online advertising
Print advertising
2011 (projection)
2012 (projection)
2013 (projection)
A major foundation supporting research on Internet literacy has concluded that the Internet fosters “a new paradigm for participation in the public sphere” and that young Internet users are more engaged citizens (MacArthur, 2011).   New digital literacy raises expectations for broadcasters, filmmakers, newspapers, publishers, and advertisers alike, and all these industries are searching for new models and alternative ways of connecting with consumers.  At the same time, educators realize it is important to train young people to critically assess their digital sources lest they lose track of credibility and the value of multiple sources of information.  The challenges are especially acute for public service broadcasters who traditionally have been relied on for news and cultural programming supporting national identity.  RTP is actively grappling with many of these challenges, for example.   
In Phase Two, training will be used to directly address many of these issues.  In 2012 CoLab is contributing to the training Academy inaugurated by RTP, and the plan is to continue to collaborate with this important broadcaster.  Training and courses will attend to:
·      Narrative structures and interactive content.
·      Multimedia journalism.
·      Interactive advertising.
·      Technologies of global media production, distribution, and consumption.
At the same time, some of the intensive CoLab schools, such as the International School on Digital Transformation, may be refocused to directly address digital inclusion and broadband infrastructure policies in Portugal.  This will be an excellent venue for convening interdisciplinary working groups that can actively work with non-profit NGOs interested in remedying or exploring social media for education. 
e-Health, e-Government, Education:  The fundamental social institutions providing healthcare, government services, and education are changing quickly with the impetus of digital media.  Immersive, game-like environments create attractive and effective learning platforms; collaboration and sharing applications as simple as Evernote power the capability for teams to collaborate on work projects.  Web-based educational programs promise economies of scale alongside rich learning environments combining textual, aural, and graphical materials.  Portugal’s e-Escola, e-Professores and e-Oportunidades programs are young forays into such possibilities, and many more remain to be developed.  Remote health monitoring and diagnostic services are being wedded to simple, consumer-friendly applications that run on commercial mobile phones, offering the chance for people with chronic health conditions to trim the need for physical appearances at clinics; this can be a special boon to people in more rural and remote areas with poor transportation options. Older populations can benefit tremendously from remote diagnosis and monitoring systems, and work with the Fraunhofer Institute in Portugal is foreseen in this domain.  Electronic health records, a seemingly mundane but necessary aspect of care, have the potential to radically alter the handling of insurance and care regimes. 
All levels of government likewise are exploring options for using Internet-based technology to improve service delivery, to involve citizens in the design and evaluation of their operations, and to generate new information that can be used by citizens.  The design and utility of digital tools for improving civil society likewise command research and development attention.  Curriculum addressing New Health Services through digital media will be incorporated into the program, as will courses on games for both entertainment and education.  It is anticipated that the educational disruptions and opportunities created by evolving digital media will be the subject of targeted research calls as well.
It is also crucial to pay close attention to the recent rise of phenomena of spontaneous citizen participation in social and political communication, aggregation, and decision-making through digital media.  Still far from fully proven as a consolidated area, it nevertheless requires close observation and interpretation within research environments, as it promises to increase both in terms of expression and impact in social, political and cultural terms.
Building capital, collaboration, and interaction:  Digital media tools have created new work habits and new organizational forms across many industries.  While opportunities to share knowledge have resulted in flatter organizational hierarchies, they also mean that generating and communicating relevant information is more important than ever.  Structuring information so that it is accessible and constantly updated, and being able to work with that information in loose, collaborative networks are twin challenges to many organizations and institutions, both private and public.  Social capital is the currency of this phase of the information society, and building it is the object of much research on viral marketing, the operations of reputation, network configurations and flows, and the processes of information seeking, among other factors.  User-generated content constitutes a newly significant asset for profit-making and non-profit organizations, and harnessing its value and incorporating it into social and economic processes is on the agenda of nearly every communication organization and effort.  How user efforts unfold, in what settings, with what outcomes and impacts for constructive collective action are pressing issues for the economy and for democracy.  The following Digital Media Summer Institute courses will address these issues:
·      Social media, design and assessment
·      Media studies, including interactivity, policy structures, globalization, network analysis and social capital
The Digital Divide and social inclusion:  As noted earlier, Portugal’s broadband penetration is lower than one might expect.  However, 92% of “students” in the country access the Internet on a routine basis, suggesting that the next generation of workers and leaders will take for granted the availability of the Internet.  Nevertheless, older citizens, immigrants, and less educated and less wealthy members of the population still may have difficulties both accessing and using the Internet and other digital tools.  Moreover, recent reports suggest that mobile broadband access has actually declined by 7% in Portugal, contrary to trends in many other countries (Report Linker).  Social inclusion efforts are escalating around the world, particularly as more nations perceive the substantial contributions that user-generated content can mean to democracy.  Indeed, several countries are now affirming that access to the Internet is a basic human right.  Tackling the constituents of the divide and remedying it are high priorities in many nations that seek to broaden information literacy.  Projects related to ambient assisted living, for example, could be highly useful to the elderly, one of the most digitally disadvantaged groups in Portugal.  Courses building off of the successful Phase One research Digital Inclusion project will offer curriculum and research addressing the digital divide and design and R&D for social inclusion. The ISDT Summer School also may be refocused to address this issue in a more concentrated fashion, as noted above.  The digital media festival futureplaces will accordingly strengthen its component of citizenship by further investing in a series of “citizen labs” that bridge various research projects and “bottom up” citizen involvement in socio-cultural environments through the use of digital media.
Actions for the next phase:
1.     Cultivate the entrepreneurship component of the program. Considering the current financial limitations and the success potential of previous actions, several approaches should be pursued in the future:
A.      Develop strategic projects involving UT-Austin faculty members and/or Austin- based companies together with Portuguese researchers and companies and submit them to QREN in Portugal and its equivalent in the United States.  Various Portuguese companies will be identified and assessed for potential collaboration opportunities.  This will be facilitated through the networks of previous program participants now working in targeted industries.  Over the past five years the program has trained hundreds of students, many of them working professionals; they constitute a potential point of entry into the businesses that already have directly benefited from program endeavors   Phase Two will work with them to identify and develop entrepreneurial research initiatives suitable for possible external funding efforts.
B.      Develop a screening program for digital media startups that may be incubated through an American presence in Austin. This screening program will be led by Antonio Câmara in Portugal working with UT-Austin representatives.  The program will be based on one public call per year.  UTEN will participate in this program.
C.       Develop a relationship with Fraunhofer Portugal to further stimulate entrepreneurial activity within the program. The relationship with Fraunhofer will include hosting Master in Multimedia students in internships in Portugal and stimulate and strengthen the practice-based component in the Ph.D. programs. It is envisioned that the support of Fraunhofer Portugal will be instrumental in supporting the creation of advanced diplomas and help to fulfill the educational goals.  A strong relationship with this institute also could be an important factor in attracting UT-Austin graduate students to Portugal.
D.      Offer “boot camp” training in entrepreneurship for doctoral and interested MA students in Digital Media.  At the beginning of the fall semester, the Digital Media program will offer a three-day “boot camp” in entrepreneurship, with UTEN consulting on speakers and topics for the boot camp.  There is also a plan to work with Portuguese instructors in the boot camp so that more entrepreneurially oriented projects would be encouraged in classes.  The UTEN program will assist in implementing this boot camp.
2.       Reinforce the academic partnership with UT –Austin.
A.      Expand the partnership by supporting the establishment of new areas related to Digital Media. 
In particular, the next phase will focus on creating activities related to computer video games.  The City of Austin has become an important center for the gaming industry worldwide and UT-Austin offers unique conditions to support the creation of a strong computer video game program in Portugal. The interdisciplinary nature of the doctoral and masters programs supported by the partnership, and their connections to engineering, computer science, and graphic and sound design, create unique conditions for the establishment of a groundbreaking program in game development in Portugal with support from UT- Austin.  This will be one of three focus areas for entrepreneurial research.  Al broader spectrum of disciplines will be incorporated, which is required given the multidisciplinary essence of Digital Media, which in turn accesses a wide range of research fields and human activities.  Complementary contributions from Information Design, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering, Archiving and Conservation, Digital Management, Music and Sound for New and Old Media, Geography, and Social Studies, in particular, will be considered; many of these disciplines already are represented in the summer institutes and research projects and coursework.
B.      Foster dual degree interest for Portuguese doctoral students seeking degrees at UT-Austin through joint student activities; 
C.       Continue to incorporate UT faculty from various departments and colleges in co-teaching through videoconferencing and through workshop activities in Portugal, underscoring the multidisciplinary nature of Digital Media;
D.      Expand the faculty exchange program so that Portuguese faculty members from various universities can co-teach and work with UT-Austin faculty members, as funding allows; these exchanges will enable Portuguese faculty members to share teaching techniques, to collaborate in areas in which there is content expertise, and to train in new content domains, all the while building and deepening networks; 
E.       Develop joint courses with UT. This may facilitate the coursework requirements for students in the Digital Media program and may enable Portuguese institutions to host UT-Austin graduate students in Portugal;  some of these courses would be developed through videoconferencing.
F.                   Create an exploratory visiting program for faculty members in Portuguese Universities that may be interested in developing a relationship with UT–Austin, namely in the areas identified in 2.A. This program will provide a small amount of funding for Portuguese faculty members willing to contact departments/other faculty at UT–Austin for developing other Digital Media-related topics.
G.      Support additional academic programs in the MA and “3rd” cycle levels in Portugal.  Students from other Portuguese digital media programs may also apply and, if accepted, enroll as nondegree students[3] at UT-Austin where they would complete work directly applicable to their degree programs in Portugal.  Nondegree students do pay UT tuition.  For Academic Year 2012-2013, the required full-time course load for international students enrolled at UT-Austin in Communication costs $10,228 for non-residents per semester and a full-time course load in Engineering is listed as costing $10,577.  Students will be expected to find their own funding for this opportunity.
Additional relationships with existing UT-Austin MFA courses (in design, music, etc.) at UT-Austin can be pursued.  These will include substantial “practice-based” research activities in technical and artistic areas such as animation, sound design/composing for new media, documentary practice, or multimedia journalism.  These diplomas could be sponsored by industry affiliates so that students would develop work for the companies/institutions involved and be funded for their studies. These advanced diplomas might also be the first year of a Ph.D. degree.  Students would become acquainted with the quality demands of the work to be presented later as work related to obtaining a degree.
H.      Integrate additional universities and research centers into programmatic opportunities.  Institutions such as the Católica University, School of Arts in Porto, the University of Minho in Braga (specifically the technology and digital media arts program), the interactive media program at the University of Madeira’s Interactive Technologies Institute, IST and Faculty of Sciences in Lisbon, and the Polytechnic of Porto (specifically the program in Digital Media at the School of Music and Performing Arts), and ID+ Institute of Research in Design, Media and Culture (U.Aveiro/U.Porto) should be progressively included in program events, such as summer courses, research projects, conferences, and workshops.
I.        Continue doctoral student scholarships in order to sustain the research and development expertise in the country and to invest in critically important new talent.  Separate calls from FCT for the Digital Media degree will ensure a high quality applicant pool.  
J.        Hire new faculty and Post Docs in order to consolidate the activities in Digital Media.  Some reasonable level of continuous funding to the institutions will be required, in particular to support long term hiring of faculty members to develop emerging areas.  These faculty members will furthermore facilitate the focus of the board of directors on strategic, prospective and executive matters. This would be formally approved with the directors’ respective universities and would be funded through Portugal university allocations.
3.       Undertake collaborative, innovative research on cutting edge problems facing media businesses and processes.  Research efforts will unite UT-Austin and Portugal-based faculty around topics defined jointly by program participants, with priority given to projects with clear opportunities for innovation. 
A.      CoLab proposes to work with FCT to design one research call in Digital Media in each of the next five years.  These competitive calls would demand an entrepreneurial dimension and incorporate the business community in meaningful ways leading to demonstration test beds.  These test beds will be further exploited to involve international collaborations and attract national companies to the program.  Research projects will be assessed on the basis of presenting a clear focus on elements in the earlier-stated strategic vision, especially emphasizing three research initiative areas: (1) the dimensions, operations and potentials of the Lusophone market and the development of appropriate entrepreneurial efforts in Portugal; (2) research on videogame developments; (3) digital media-related health and assistive devices, particularly as their development may link with efforts at the Fraunhofer Institute.  These will be launched through a competition that is evaluated by an international panel of experts.  They will require integrated management of resources from American as well as Portuguese institutions.  If research calls are integrated in the annual FCT call, the area should be identified in the call and the projects should allow the integrated management of resources from American as well as Portuguese institutions.  Modest support for UT-Austin co-principal investigators in three project areas is noted in the budget.
B.      Connect media companies to the educational and research programs, including continuing education or professional development opportunities.  Connections to companies are crucial for maximum program success and will insure that research enhances the market opportunities of Portugal-based companies.  One example is the jointly sponsored Zon Laboratory in Austin that trains media professionals so that they are better equipped to contribute to production activities in Portugal.  In summer, 2012 a training collaboration with RTP and its Academy is being initiated for emerging professionals.
4.       Evaluate and disseminate the program outcomes to new environments.
A.      Conduct annual program evaluations.  Such efforts can lead to continuous improvement; each element of the funded activities should assess outcomes on a regular basis; network analysis (as was used in evaluating the social capital attributable to ISDT) and other research methods will be used to measure performance.
B.      Disseminate program outcomes in terms of their impact on scholarly contributions in journals and conferences, and in terms of the program’s contributions to media businesses; regular program newsletters serve to knit together the community or program participants, and will be further extended to more industrial affiliates as well as the general public. 
C.       Solidify Portugal’s presence as an international leader in digital media innovations through continued sponsorship of international activities such as futureplaces -- the International School for Digital Transformation, or other consortia-sponsored efforts.  Significantly, such events can enable the building of social capital of networks that are critical to both the market and to research progress. Additionally, futureplaces: digital media and local cultures will enhance its existing R&D component by consolidating its showcase component for international research, ongoing Ph.D. projects, and innovative creative practices and outcomes; and ISDT will take on publishing and dissemination.  Further ties between the two initiatives will be implemented, and the utility of both will be assessed annually. 
D.      Extend program efforts to the Lusophone world, particularly Angola and Brazil.  The plan is to work with international organizations such as agencies within the United Nations, among others, to extend the International School for Digital Transformation model to other locations.  As noted earlier, Brazil is one of the near-term targets for ISDT, and working with Brazilian universities and NGOs will cultivate many relationships relevant to development efforts.  Attention to Lusophone opportunities also will include working with media companies now targeting these regions for expansion, as well as undertaking research projects that explore social networking opportunities in these regions.
E.       The collaborations also will expand their internationalization efforts with targeted European digital media programs, including the University of Nottingham’s Cultural Industries program and the state-funded MediaLab-Prado in Madrid.