The goal of this project is to expand the research and innovation potential of the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) of the University of Madeira through the hiring of an ERA Chair in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Design Innovation (DI). The LEAPFROG HCI-DI aims at unlocking the full potential of interdisciplinary research in interactive technologies, while strengthening innovation and knowledge transfer activities in close collaboration with local and global industrial partners and contributing to the smart specialization strategy of Madeira. To this end, funding this project proposal will support the following main activities:

  1. Upgrade the RDT capacity and capability by expanding the human potential and fostering a critical mass of researchers with inter-disciplinary expertise in human-computer interaction (HCI) looking at new ways to examine and communicate the potential of emerging technologies in areas such as robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology and informatics, as well as their impacts in key areas of contemporary life, in particular aging populations, sustainability and digital culture. The hiring of an ERA Chair in HCI-DI will be instrumental in order to raise the profile of M-ITI in and build a critical mass of researchers in the above-mentioned key emerging areas.
  2. Improve M-ITI’s innovation potential and impact at the regional, national and European levels, through design-driven innovation. Such approach will unravel the impact of open innovation and crowdsourcing on education, training and knowledge transfer, and extend the creative research capabilities of individuals and organizations in the region. For such an impact to be effective we need to acquire and install critical equipment for test beds and prototypes in the regional strategic application areas of tourism, aging populations and sustainability, which leverage the outermost region of Madeira as a natural living lab for interactive technologies.
  3. Raise international awareness about the institute and connect M-ITI and its industry affiliates to the global knowledge networks: work with mentoring institutes based at prestigious universities in Europe, which have agreed to serve as mentors by sharing their knowledge and promoting the exchange of key personnel; and continue to deepen the strong partnerships established with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), which include joint research and advanced training programs.

As a consequence of these activities we aim to better integrate M-ITI with the European Research Area (ERA) and, in particular, improve the participation of M-ITI and associated entities of the recently created regional system for R&D+I, thereby increasing the level of participation of the institute in the Horizon 2020 programmes.