The ENEX Project aims at developing advanced training courses for graduate and postgraduate students as well as professionals facing the rapidly growing importance of nanotechnology in industry, research and the society as a whole. The project follows a new interdisciplinary approach combining nanotechnology modules with innovation management content and merging them into a novel qualification concept. Upon completion the course will be made available through the Internet as an Open Licence e-learning course. The learning contents of the course will be validated and classified according to the guidelines of ECVET (European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training) and EQF (European Qualification Frame).
Nanotechnology (NT) is a strongly emerging area of research and activity, opening up new markets and leading to new products, processes and services in almost all industrial sectors. As a result, there is an increasing demand of particularly qualified personnel in companies producing and using nanotechnology, but also in research organisations developing new technologies as well as consulting firms and other institutions focusing on the NT research-to-market process.
Why combine nanotechnology with innovation management?
Nanotechnology is a dynamic, multidisciplinary, but also strongly heterogeneous technology that cannot be described as simply scaling down 'conventional' technology to ever smaller dimensions. When approaching the molecular level, surface phenomena and quantum effects become increasingly important that provide new properties to materials and change the way nanosystems work.
Transferring this know-how into macroscopic processes and applications will offer outstanding opportunities and challenges. For example, nanotechnology and nanomaterials can be used to add value to existing products in incremental steps, e.g. providing new functions and better performance, reducing weight, saving energy. But nanotechnology also has the potential to develop revolutionary novel concepts and applications leading to disruptive innovation. Thus, depending on the nanotechnology under consideration and the application in mind, the innovation process from idea to product can drastically vary. Innovation in the nanotechnology context, therefore, is a very complex process, and the knowledge of managing and improving the efficiency of innovation processes can become a key success factor to bring NT research to the market.
A further challenge and target area of ENEX outputs has been identified in the basic structure of the innovation systems of European regions. Due to its enormous market potential and economic impact, nanotechnology plays an important role in the development of regional innovation strategies. Europe strongly invests in nanosciences and nanotechnologies through the implementation of publicly funded research programmes as well as other innovation support programmes. However, despite all those efforts, a high percentage of exploitable research results never get to the market place. To bridge this gap between NT research and market requires knowledge that public/private entities often do not have. Hence, there is a latent demand for specially trained professionals, having innovation management skills with a focus on nanotechnology applications, who help to organize nanotechnology transfer processes in a more systematic, efficient and application-oriented way.
The project ENEX – Expert in Nanotechnology Exploitation is funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ programme and coordinated by INTAMT Internationale Agentur fuer Marketing und Technologietransfer GmbH, Duesseldorf, Germany. The agreement number is 2014-1-DE02-KA202-001635.