GeneralWork at imec

5 min

Preface March 2018

Each month our CEO reflects on the events in his (professional) life and discusses some of the articles featured in the magazine. This month, our CEO talks about the importance of long-term research and academic collaborations. 

“We want to engage smart minds from all over the world to join our research, with an academic or an industrial focus.”

When imec is discussed, there is often the misconception that we are only involved in industrial R&D. High time to set that idea aside: our long-term, fundamental research is key to who we are. It is the basis of the progress we make. It is indispensable to keep feeding all our research tracks with a forceful stream of new ideas. For our industrial R&D partners, our fundamental research is a guarantee that we have considered all options – even the most experimental or seemingly improbable – before we choose a direction and start working on industrial solutions.  

Therefore, about 700 PhD researchers do their research at imec, associated with one of the many universities with which we collaborate. Many of our key senior researchers are also professors at one of those universities – allowing them to point their students early on to what is going on at the forefront of R&D with industry.    

 Next to the strategic collaborations with our acclaimed local universities (KU Leuven, UGent, UAntwerpen, UHasselt and VUB), we also have many international partnerships. One example is Johns Hopkins University. Each summer, students from Johns Hopkins join our life sciences researchers to tackle specific challenges. Recently, the interaction between one such student from the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology and one of our PhD researchers led to a fantastic result: ultrasmall grippers – nanoscale! – that are integrated on a chip and that may clasp heart cells to allow a tight contact between those cells and the biochip’s electrodes. This opens up appealing possibilities to grow tissues and organs on chip.

One of the goals of these academic collaboration programs is to be able to engage smart minds from all over the world to come and do their research at imec, whether they have an academic or industrial focus. We often see that imec is not an easy choice for students. But when they get to know our expertise and infrastructure, all their concerns soon disappear. Moreover, we offer them a perspective for longer research tracks and a rewarding career once they have finished their PhD.  

In the March issue of our magazine, we present a great mix results and research. There is long-term research: the microgrippers that were inspired by the smart mind from Johns Hopkins University. There is research for our industrial partners: showing how EUV lithography is finally ready for the chip production lines.  And there is research that will benefit a wider public: robots who may assist seniors and technology that allows a safer, easier car drive. Starting March 8, we will organize a ‘Techpedition’ where we visit 13 Flemish cities with demonstrations of how technology may help you to lead a more healthy and comfortable life. For more information, visit

And for our future PhD researchers who happen to read this magazine: have a look at this webpage for PhD researchers. Starting mid-March until mid-April you may send us your application to research one of our many exciting research topics – including a follow-up research on the microgrippers! 

Luc Van den hove,
President en CEO imec

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