Why does working with companies help advance basic research?
The interaction with companies gives us access to new questions and this can hugely enrich basic research. On top of that, it is important to collaborate when fundamentally new knowledge or concepts are being developed that may be relevant for application in the energy sector. Collaboration with industry will be absolutely necessary for the ideas to be applied.
What are the biggest challenges in collaborating with companies?
Professors can afford to plan very long-term to tackle the really big questions that we are facing. But companies are subject to short-term business cycles, relatively quick turnover in staff and other external pressures, so their strategic priorities may change at a short notice. This can bring challenges to engage in a long-term collaboration that does not rely on short-term outcomes.
What do you like most about the CD Laboratory funding scheme?
Although I was a young group leader, the CD Laboratory enabled me to pursue an idea for many years and ultimately to prove that it works and to produce a prototype. In addition, the Lab was a huge benefit to the careers of a large number of junior scientists, not only mine but also those of the many members of the CD Laboratory’s staff who are now heading their own research groups. And last but not least it represented the start of my collaboration with industry.