The first series of workshops under the umbrella EU-FP6-Project TRAYSS PRIME came to a close during the XII Biotechnology Summer School at the University of Gdansk and at the GBM Autumn Meeting at the University of Hamburg. Over 50 young scholars – master’s degree students, PhD candidates and professors among them – attended lectures with real-world relevance.
“This model – providing young academics with exposure to management and thus essential tools for later in their careers – is working. The interest the participants showed and the way they took part in the discussion demonstrates the need for management seminars for young researchers,” sums up Henner Willnow, project manager at TRAYSS PRIME and an employee at Steinbeis Team Nordost. TRAYSS PRIME (www. scanbalt.org/trayss) offers junior researchers in the life sciences seminars on project innovation and IP management as well as sessions on how to write applications for EU-FP7 research programs. These courses are organized by the Steinbeis Team Nordost in Rostock, Prosciencia Beratungs-GmbH and ScanBalt, the biotechnology network. Additional workshops will be held in Cracow and Berlin and a spring session is planned for 2008.
Considered a risk to German industries’ ability to perform, the oft-bemoaned dearth of engineers has triggered numerous efforts to buck the trend. Several campaigns help young people take an active interest in technology; ep-Akademie programs – an initiative of the TQU my big apple GmbH and the e-people-group in association with the Steinbeis University Berlin – equip technicians, engineers, and computer scientists with the right skills on a part-time basis.
Participants put their new knowledge to work straight away, development never loses its personal touch and impacts the company tangibly. Every phase of skill development concludes with a test. As an epengineerR level I, level II and level III, graduates demonstrate knowledge in defined areas for ongoing tasks. It’s an innovative training model which ep- Akademie offers technical specialists whose gaps in skills are currently holding them back from performing to their full potential.
ep-Akademie offers participants training programs tailored to their individual needs and work-related assignments and links them to credits for bachelor’s and MBA degree programs at the Steinbeis University Berlin. Graduates also earn the title of epengineer R. Key course content spans business management expertise, communications, management and specialized skills.
The central components of this part-time program: immediate practical relevance. Before the program gets underway participants’ supervisors in their companies work with ep-Akademie to compile a set of tasks which participants must complete as they proceed through the program and learn along the way. Each of the ep-Akademie program’s three sequences broadens horizons in well-defined ways. Consider epengineer R level Is: they acquire specific expertise in a specialized area, rounded off by exposure to process and project management, innovative technologies, law and organization. Another important element is honing communication skills, especially those structured around objectives: chairing a meeting, moderating and presenting. epengineerR level IIs learn how to optimize a product’s or service’s effectiveness and efficiency and how to put those ideas into everyday practice. They keep in touch with influential external experts and their suggestions are rooted in sound technology and a similarly sound cost/performance ratio. And as up and coming managers, they gain exposure to managing teams and change as well as working with management systems.
epengineer level IIIs manage centers of excellence in a manner which puts objectives and people first, thereby giving the centers a head-start on technology. Given the overall context, they craft interdisciplinary approaches to problems and develop and put into practice ideas on how to optimize added value. They also pinpoint trends and opportunities in technology and take the initiative on projects involving innovations in products and services, knowing they can tap into a rich network of in-house and external experts and research establishments.
Whether they’re technicians reaching for the stars, or young and driven, or mature engineers, all participants benefit from day one. Companies, too – since development revolves around their company and day-today tasks, employees expand and improve upon their core competencies; what’s more, they feel greater loyalty. ep-Akademie models aren’t just effective, though – they’re fun. Each level’s supplementary description betrays how hard participants have to work. Level I, named K.I.S.S. (‘KeepIng Solutions Straight’), is more of an entryway to pique curiosity. Level II bears the name K.I.C.K. (‘KeepIng Competence Keen’) and Level III is reserved for K.I.N.G. (‘KeepIng Networks Growing’) – complete with everything participants need to achieve success in their professional endeavors.
Every year, white-collar crime and ‘expertise espionage’ drain billions of euros from SMEs. Yet this phenomenon has long gone unnoticed by entrepreneurs. These days, the matter of protecting know-how is the first order of business. Two Steinbeis Enterprises have significantly contributed to a manual which equips companies and researchers with effective strategies to safeguard their expertise.
Safeguarding expertise has garnered the highest level of attention in politics. Both the German federal government and G8 summit participants in Heiligendamm have been investigating product piracy and the protection of intellectual property. And the numbers put out by the OECD are alarming: worldwide sales of counterfeit products in 2005 totaled nearly €200 billion, according to a current study published in Paris. This figure represents only cross-border commerce; some estimates put sales as high as €600 billion.
The economic fallout of these figures is disastrous. Copyright infringers have penetrated nearly every technical realm across an incredibly broad spectrum of industries. The German Federal Office for Information Security forecasts that the situation will become particularly critical for SMEs, as the threat turns increasingly precarious as international business and information services expand. And although business readily admits that an abstract risk exists, it seldom perceives it as a tangible threat to companies. Yet nearly one in two SMEs is affected by white-collar crime, information and expertise theft in particular. A recent survey found that after theft, embezzlement, breach of trust and fraud, information theft is the most significant risk faced by SME’s.
Cyber attacks are just one of the ways a company can be parted from its proprietary know-how. Joint research efforts, changes in personnel, break-ins, theft and selective wiretapping of, confidential meetings are all methods of procuring sought-after expertise. Any one of them could take a company’s sensitive data relating to its expertise – and seriously jeopardize the company’s livelihood.
How to combat the phenomenon? Set up systematic safeguards for expertise – a challenge fraught with complexity. For guidance, professionals can turn to Praxishandbuch Internationaler Know-how- Schutz (A Hands-On Guide to Safeguarding Expertise Globally, German only) published by Prof. Dr. Alexander Wurzer, managing director of the Steinbeis Transfer Institute Intellectual Property Management, and Dr. Lorenz Kaiser, head of the Rights and Contracts department at Fraunhofer. Frank Graage, head of the Steinbeis Research Center Technology Management North East, co-authored the compendium. The work takes a comprehensive look at various aspects of safeguarding expertise, in different industry and geographical contexts and concludes with tangible, real-life recommendations. The work is part of a range of titles brought out by Colognebased publisher Bundesanzeiger.