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From Research to Economic Success

Plenary / Panel
english language

Plenary session in cooperation with the European Research Council

Knowledge as a production factor is becoming more and more important in the global race for resources, heightening the pressure to enhance the commercial exploitation of current research results. How will the role of top-level research change in the future innovation system?


Pro Rector (Enterprise), Imperial College London Abstract
Through some specific case studies, Edward Astle will illustrate the following points on how to transfer research to economic success:
1. The fundamental underpinning has to be outstanding basic science based on curiosity driven research - without this the pipeline will dry up
2. On top of this there are a whole array of ingredients to generate commercialisable ideas:
2.1 Mission and culture of the institution
2.2 Incentives (attached to both funding and personal employment)
2.3 Multi-disciplinary working: absolutely vital and extremely hard
2.4 Multiple channels to market within the University:
2.4.1 Technology transfer through licensing and spin-outs
2.4.2 Corporate research funding
2.4.3 Academic consulting
2.4.4 Staff transfers/secondments
2.5 Concentrated eco-system which combines university/corporates/ spin outs and start ups
2.6 Collaboration beyond the institution and eco-system
3. Role models and mentoring and other support mechanisms (N.B. student ventures have particular needs)
4. Risk capital to invest in early stage development (whether corporate or venture or crowd-source)
5. Venture capital plus skilled professional management ready to
5.1 connect the idea/technology/product or service to market
5.2 change track (many times if need be) based on market feedback
5.3 fail
6. Even with all the above, luck and timing can decide ultimate success (the best solutions do not always get to market!!)
ERC Starting Grant 2009 and ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2011; Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor of Nanomaterials, Department of Materials, University of Oxford Abstract
There has been tremendous academic output in the field of nanomaterials and more specifically carbon nanomaterials since the early ‘90s and with the award of the Nobel Prize in 2010 for graphene, basic research on carbon and other nanomaterials is continuing to grow rapidly.
Applications are envisaged in key strategic areas of Europe and include light weight structural materials, energy storage and harvesting, electronics, sensors, health care solutions.
However, in order to fully unlock the potential of nanomaterials, the gap between academia and industry urgently needs to be addressed.
This talk will focus on the manufacturing, characterisation,and applications of 0D, 1D, and 2D nanomaterials and the challenges that need to be addressed for the efficient manufacturing and up-scaling of nanomaterials production to unlock their full potential, which spans across several lengths scales and disciplines.
A complex problem, which can only be achieved if academia and industry work together synergistically.
ERC Starting Grant 2007 and ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2011; Professor in Experimental Physics, Faculty of Science, VU University Amsterdam Abstract
Universities largely rely on people who have an unconditioned passion for what they do. It is not rare that, during their research activity, those professionals pioneer radically new ideas that have the potential to generate a sustainable business. The process that brings an invention from the comfortable surroundings of a specialized laboratory to the selective environment of the free market is, however, a steep curve.
During this talk, Davide will look back at the different phases that allowed his group to transform one of his ideas into a successful commercial product. He will analyse the role of the initial concept and how ERC’s funding programs (among others) allowed the group to bring it to full maturity and, thus, closer to commercialisation.
Davide will further discuss the importance of his entrepreneurial activity for his own career and for the success of his research laboratory, showing that there exists a mutual fertilization process from which academic professionals and start-uppers can both benefit.
Adapting the position of Roberto Verganti [1] on design-driven innovation to his experience, Davide will conclude his talk by briefly commenting on the humbling (but highly rewarding) effort that academic entrepreneurs need to undertake to shift their focus from what they do to what they want to deliver.
[1] R. Verganti, Design-driven innovation, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, Boston, MA, 2009
Member, Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development; Former President, European Research Council; Chair, ERA Council Forum Austria, Vienna Chair

Edward ASTLE

Pro Rector (Enterprise), Imperial College London

1989-1997 Executive and Regional Director at Cable & Wireless plc
1997-1999 Managing Director at the BICC Group
2001-2008 Executive Director of National Grid plc
since 2008 Pro-Rector Enterprise at Imperial College London
 Previously he held senior business strategy positions in the UK and France. He is a Trustee of the Shannon Trust.
since 2009 Non-executive Director at Intertek Plc

Dr. Nicole GROBERT

ERC Starting Grant 2009 and ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2011; Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor of Nanomaterials, Department of Materials, University of Oxford

 Nicole Grobert holds a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in the Department of Materials, Oxford University.
 Her research focuses on establishing  growth systematics for the controlled generation of nanostructured materials' with a particular focus on novel carbon and non-carbon based nanomaterials, including nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanorods, graphene and other 2D nanomaterials. Close collaboration with internationally leading industries enables her to develop multifunctional hierarchical nanostructures for their implementation in the health-care sectors and for their use in energy and structural applications.


ERC Starting Grant 2007 and ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2011; Professor in Experimental Physics, Faculty of Science, VU University Amsterdam

 After completion of his academic education in Italy, Davide Iannuzzi (Laurea degree in Physics at the University of Padua in 1995, PhD in Physics at the University of Pavia in 2002) moved to the United States, where he spent almost four years as a postdoctoral fellow, first at Bell Laboratories (NJ) and then at Harvard University (MA).
 In 2005, he came back to Europe thanks to a fellowship of the Dutch National Foundation (NWO) that allowed him to set his own group at the VU University of Amsterdam, where he has been working since then.
 In 2011, he co-founded a start-up company (Optics11) to bring a technology of his to market (fiber-top technology).
 He has been bestowed with several international awards, and he has co-authored more than 70 papers and 5 patent applications.
 Since January 2013, he has been Professor in Experimental Physics via the University Research Chair program of the VU University Amsterdam.

Dr. Ph.D. Helga NOWOTNY

Member, Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development; Former President, European Research Council; Chair, ERA Council Forum Austria, Vienna

1959 Doctorate in Jurisprudence, University of Vienna
1969 Ph.D. in Sociology, Columbia University, New York
  Teaching and Research Positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Vienna; King's College, Cambridge; University of Bielefeld; Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin; Ecole des Hautes Etudes an Sciences Sociales, Paris; Science Center for Social Sciences, Berlin; Collegium Budapest
1996-2002 Professor of Philosophy and Science and Technology Studies, ETH Zurich
1998-2004 Director, "Collegium Helveticum", ETH Zurich
2001-2006 Chair, EURAB - European Research Advisory Board of the European Commission
2002-2004 Director, Branco Weiss Fellowship Programme "Society in Science"
2005-2011 Chair, Scientific Advisory Board of the University of Vienna
2007-2010 Vice-President ERC - European Research Council
  Professor em. of Science and Technology Studies at ETH Zurich
2010-2013 President, ERC - European Research Council

Technology Forum

show timetable


10:00 - 12:30Technology Brunch hosted by Standortagentur TirolPartner
13:00 - 13:10Opening of the Alpbach Technology Forum 2013Plenary
13:10 - 13:45Innovation and PolicyPlenary
13:45 - 15:15Future Innovation - International PerspectivesPlenary
15:40 - 16:40Graphene - A Great Hope of Future Technologies?Plenary
16:40 - 18:00From Research to Economic SuccessPlenary
20:00 - 21:45Our Place in the UniversePlenary
21:45 - 00:00Career Lounge hosted by the Organisers and Siemens AG ÖsterreichSocial
21:45 - 00:00Evening Reception hosted by Forschung AustriaSocial


08:30 - 15:00Working Group 05: The Potential of the Alps: Focus Sustainable Use of ResourcesBreakout
09:00 - 18:00Junior Alpbach - Science and Technology for Young PeopleBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Special Event: RTI Internationalization in Austria - Strategic RecommendationsBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 01: The Value Chains of the FutureBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 02: To Develop the Future - Tomorrow's Innovation as Exemplified by International Leading EnterprisesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 03: Smart City - Pathways to Future Urban MobilityBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 04: "Frontrunner", a New Approach in RTI PolicyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 06: The Potential of ICT Tools in Open Innovation ProcessesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 07: Web attack! The Fight against Hackers and Data LossBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 08: Industry 4.0 - Impact on the Future of Working LivesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 09: Green Tech: Visions and Business of eco-mobilityBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 10: Identity 2.0: Digital ManBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 11: Intellectual Property Management - Conditions for Prosperity and SuccessBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 12: Secure Society = Secured Future = Security ResearchBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Ö1 Children's University Alpbach - Science and Technology for KidsBreakout
16:00 - 17:30i-Learning - The Future of Learning in the Digital WorldPlenary
17:45 - 20:00Challenges for Biomedical ResearchPlenary
20:00 - 22:00Open Dialogue - Smart Mobility for Smart CitiesPartner


09:30 - 10:15Planning Innovation: At the CrossroadsPlenary
10:15 - 12:00Cybercrime and CybersecurityPlenary
12:15 - 13:15The Wonderful World of Quantum MechanicsPlenary
13:15 - 13:30Closing Statement of the Alpbach Technology ForumPlenary
13:30 - 14:00Snack Reception hosted by the OrganisersSocial