Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 11:59
Companies fight for tech uni talent
To fill the need for new talent in the engineering sector, companies like Philips are going to finance PhD places at Universities. Philips itself is financing 30 places at the University of Technology (TU) of Eindhoven. Head of Philips is calling this the next step in "the war on talent." Big companies such as Philips, AkzoNobel and ASML have been pumping money into universities for some time now, this is not new. It is the first time that Philips finances such a big group of PhD students in one go. Currently, the company has ten PhD students on campuses, but these are individual scientists. Philips employees sometimes take to the campuses as well, some perform lectures once a week. According to Jan Mengelers, director of TU Eindhoven, there is no danger of a conflict of interest. "It is still as always up to the PhD commission to decide whether a candidate gets a degree. PhD's will also always want to and be allowed to publish their results. That is what it's about." According to the new program, at least six PhD students have to work together in one research area. Despite the fact that big companies often give money to universities, the PhD students will not know that their place has been paid for by Philips. The money comes from one big kitty. Together with local hospitals and expertise centers for epilepsy and sleep medicine Kempenhaege, Philips will bring together around €100,ooo per PhD per year. The university has said that for every financed position, the school will add another. In this way, the university will get 70 PhD's, which costs around €28 million. The research time that this money can offer is four years. The hope is that more money will be available from Brussels after these four years. The first students can start in two years. The process for candidacy has started now in order to find the most suitable young scientists available to fill the places. Henk van Houten (Philips Research) hopes research can be done in certain areas, such as the development of a new type of incubator. "The time of wires and cables on the baby have to be gone in the future. The child has to be monitored via clever sensors, without contact", he says. Van Houten is also thinking of an "intelligent city", in which residents have to feel safer with the help of "intelligent" lighting. This is already being experimented with in Stratumseind, the nightlife street of Eindhovem. "In the future we won't sell lamps anymore, but light."