The University of Soochow, in eastern China, opened the China-Portugal Joint Laboratory for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Sciences, a partnership with the University of Évora and the University of Macau.
In a statement, the university underlines that the laboratory is part of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative and was included in September by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology in a list of priority international cooperation projects.
The laboratory will operate in a network, with the three universities collaborating on projects ranging from digital to preventive conservation and maintenance systems, António Candeias, vice-rector of the University of Évora told Lusa.
One of the missions is research into historical materials and new technologies, said the director of the new laboratory, Wu Yongfa, including techniques for virtual rehabilitation of cultural heritage.
As soon as the covid-19 pandemic allows, the Hercules laboratory at the University of Évora, dedicated to heritage sciences, will send a mobile laboratory to carry out campaigns in mainland China, revealed António Candeias.
In addition to training Chinese researchers, the three universities plan to create joint master’s and doctoral degrees, added the academic, who was once director of the Hércules laboratory.
The laboratory plans to develop conservation projects and research and training programs in conjunction with authorities and institutions in mainland China, Macau and Portugal, confirmed Soochow University.
The agreement that led to the formation of the laboratory was signed on November 6 and is valid for five years.
The connection to the Suzhou city university, which is close to Shanghai, came about through an existing partnership between the University of Évora and the University of Macau, said António Candeias.
The Macau institution will finance a chair dedicated to the sustainable development of cultural heritage in Évora, while the Portuguese university will help to open and set up in Macau an instrumental laboratory affiliated with the Hércules laboratory, in a project that received funding from the Macau Foundation.
The visit of a Portuguese researcher to start setting up the laboratory at the Cidade de Macau University was postponed to January or February due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lamented António Candeias.