Why is basic research so important for innovation?
When developing new materials and processes, application-oriented basic research is vital in order to gain a thorough understanding of newly emerging phenomena and the correlations between them. Metallurgy and materials science have become a highly complex field of science. These days technological leadership without basic research is almost unthinkable. In many cases, basic research is a necessary supplement to corporate research, by facilitating or speeding up the development of new processes and products.
What are the major challenges in collaborating with universities?
Scientific partners, especially university institutes, are very important because they undertake the basic research that we can’t do ourselves. We strive to work with scientific partners along our entire process chain, establishing long-term partnerships in key areas. This collaboration is always a partnership of equals, and is designed as a win-win situation for both parties. We benefit from the expertise and resources at the institutes, which are also a source of new and highly-qualified employees. In turn, the institute profits from the relevant research tasks and the financial support provided by the company.
What do you value most about the CD Laboratory funding model?
CD Laboratories are unbureaucratic and highly flexible. Being able to set up new modules, add extra partners and adapt the budget, all during the course of the project, makes it possible to react quickly to new developments or changing parameters. The model is uncomplicated, has specified rules, clearly formulated goals and a defined duration. The 30% allocation for basic scientific research is also a huge advantage for the company. It allows the scientific staff in the CD Laboratory much more freedom to explore the scientific principles, and is an advantage over bilateral projects in contract research which have an exclusive focus on applied research as well as pressure for results.