Imec is launching a Tenure Track in which top researchers from all over the world can apply to start their own lab on the imec campus. For imec, this means an influx of new ideas and top talent, while the researcher in question can count on the perfect combination of an academic culture and industrial relevance.
One of the initiators of imec's Tenure Track is Professor Guido Groeseneken, fellow and director of imec's PhD research and academic relations. We asked him about the how and why of this new initiative.
What is a Tenure Track?
"A Tenure Track is a kind of academic career that is well known at American and Canadian universities. It means that a researcher/professor is given carte blanche for a number of years to work out a certain research topic in a research team that he has put together".
Why does imec start with this?
"We are constantly looking for ways to strengthen our leading position in the R&D world. And because our researchers are our most important asset, a lot of attention is paid to attracting the best people to our campus. Setting up a Tenure Track is one way to attract top researchers from renowned universities. It's also the perfect way to include new ideas in our portfolio."
Who is the ideal candidate for you?
"The perfect candidate studied and worked at a top university and has already built up an impressive scientific career, which has resulted in several high-impact publications and possibly even patents. He/she has a certain expertise or plays with a certain revolutionary idea that he/she wants to develop in his/her own research group. The researcher in question does not find it a problem – and even sees the advantages – that he/she ends up in an environment where both fundamental and applied research is carried out in collaboration with the industry."
What should the research be about?
"All ideas – in a broad sense – related to nanoelectronics and digital technologies can be considered. And the current research topics on which imec is working are proof that this link can be taken broadly. When imec started some 20 years ago with some doctorates in the field of life sciences, no one could have imagined that this would become such a large research group, with even a few spin-offs and many industrial collaborations as a result. Our recently established OnePlanet Research Center, which focuses on food, health and agriculture, also proves that nanoelectronics and digital technologies can make a difference in every aspect of our lives. The more out-of-the-box and innovative the idea, the better."
Why choose imec instead of going for an academic career at a top university?
First of all, perhaps because there is no place left at that top university. After all, the places there are limited. But that is certainly not the reason why you should choose imec! A first advantage of imec is that all disciplines are under one roof, which ensures a unique cross-fertilisation between the different groups.
At universities, this is often divided into departments and faculties, which can usually even be found at different locations. The imec campus, on the other hand, is a very compact campus where interaction is stimulated (e.g. with an on-site coffee bar, several terraces and a dynamic food corner).
A second advantage of imec is the cooperation with the industry, which means that research does not take place on 'lab scale' but on 'fab scale' (imec has a 200mm and 300mm cleanroom that runs 24/7). It also allows you to collaborate on the research roadmap of leading companies, and even potentially bring your technology to the market. But you can also choose to do fundamental research without any link to the industry. After all, it is these exploratory ideas that will form the basis of imec's future portfolio.
But what if an academic career is important to you? Imec can also provide an answer to this, thanks to its close collaboration with universities all over the world. Many top researchers at imec are also part-time professors, supervise doctoral students and attend conferences.
And finally, I would like to mention our location in Leuven, Belgium. Leuven is a very pleasant, not too big, and multicultural student city. Most of its inhabitants speak perfect English and there is a wide range of culture and historical buildings. And of course, Belgium is the perfect starting point for exploring the rest of Europe."
Want to know more?
- More information about this Tenure Track and about the application process can be found here.