John Boland - Speaking Industry's Language

Written by: Philip Smyth
Written on: Wednesday, 05 February, 2014

In this latest instalment of “The Art Of The Start”, Prof. John Boland, former Director of CRANN, joined us to share his insights in to how to upscale your institute and tailoring an approach to suit industrial needs. Prof. Boland, who recently just stepped down as director of CRANN in Trinity College Dublin, has an impressive track record in both academia and industry. He is a former graduate of UCD and got his PhD in Chemical Physics at California Institute of Technology. He has held various positions at IBM research, the University of North Carolina and Trinity College Dublin.

This fascinating talk is delivered in two parts. Firstly, Prof. Boland details how CRANN became regarded as a global leader in research into nanotechnology and nanomaterial’s.  Following this, he then describes how any centre should approach this upscaling process and what challenges they are likely to face along the way. Prof. Boland is keen to point out that one of the key skills any group should foster is to learn how to "speak in the same language" as industry. By doing this, institutes put themselves in the best position possible to collaborate.

He also highlights the importance of customer validation at an institutional level. His advice was that institutes should use industry engagement as a method of assessing the real world impact of their research. The opportunity for institutes in an Irish context is that multinational production facilities located here are under pressure to stay relevant and “mission critical” within their larger global parent organizations. His advice for institutes who are seeking success and funding was that there is a profound need to “become part of the story of industries success”.