I recently met the Secretary general to figure out if the European Industrial Research Management Association (EIRMA) can have a role as R&D key for contributing in Europe to respond to the big economic crisis. The engineer D. Michel Judkiewicz (M.J.) with the knack for knowing how challenging and stimulating a multicultural environment can be, is leading now the EIRMA office in Brussels, at the heart of the EU quarter. EIRMA was set up in 1966 in Paris, historical seat of the OECD. The idea of forming EIRMA within the OECD came from Sir A. King, Director General for Scientific Affairs at the time and Prof. H. Casimir, a member of the Management Board of Philips. They contacted all the large firms in Europe inviting them to form a European body devoted to industrial research management. The aim was to exchange ideas and best practices between researchers and managers.

Why did EIRMA move to Brussels?

MJ: "The aim is to improve performance of R&D, achieving networks of high-quality hands-on R&D and innovation experts, building initiatives in partnerships to address cross-industrial big challenges, arising awareness of the R&D needs at stakeholders in Brussels, home of EU and other international organisations".

How can EIRMA help make Europe an attractive place for R&D and Innovation?

MJ: "EIRMA is an independent and not-for-profit organisation within a European perspective involving around 120 major European companies operating in a wide range of sectors. It is a multidisciplinary platform of dialogue and support to the collaborative research & knowledge transfer between science and industry towards a "responsible partnering". Research coordination initiatives aim to develop new culture of innovation in Europe. That includes new technologies for fostering growth, creating new conditions for high level jobs, new marketing for innovative goods, services and products."

Practical examples of achieving goals by EIRMA go from a study of outsourcing and sharing industrial R&D in emerging countries, e.g. target-country India, where a focus group studied the way industrial R&D was performed by Indian and international companies within local R&D centers. A similar study has been started about Brazil in 2012. One recent study done in collaboration with a major Swiss engineering school, intends to perform pooling of Intellectual property (IP) methods, strategies and data from a dozen major industrial multi-national companies, with the goal to identify a model of IP management that could be later used as a predictive and strategic tool.

Many EIRMA members will attend TEDxBrussels this year, another opportunity to network, exchange and communicate about and around science.

EIRMA online: http://www.eirma.org

Conversation by Nadia Ceratto