Stakeholder Spotlight - AcumenIST
Tell us a little about your organisation. How do the areas of nanotechnology and sustainability impact your work?
AcumenIST’s central idea is the sharing and combining of individual excellence in science- and technology-based innovations to provide a result (i.e. in the form of a project or a piece of innovation) that is greater than the sum of its parts. This idea is underpinned by the principle of shared (and cleverly combined) responsibility and expertise that ultimately allows every collaborating expert to do what they do and like best, and – in turn – does not burden anybody with unnecessary or unwanted tasks in what ought to be the collaborative pursuit of a shared interest.
AcumenIST therefore offers services ranging from technology- and market-analyses to business- and R&I-consortia-development to project management; all of these services are based on the own expertise and passion that AcumenIST founder, Dr Steffi Friedrichs, developed in over 20 years of work and interest that started in inorganic chemistry, branched first into detailed nanotechnology and later into biotechnology and converging technologies in general.
The topic of sustainability has always been addressed by all of these disciplines, and gained even more traction in recent years, as nanotechnology-based solutions to sustainability problems are being sought the world over.
What is the newest/most innovative development in nanotechnology that you and/or your organisation is excited about now?
Nanotechnology has always been a general purpose technology (GPT), whose impact was not limited to specific markets, but expected to benefit both processes and products in existing markets, as well as give rise to entirely new markets.
During the early days of nanotechnology-based R&I, it was fascinating to observe that nanotechnology-enabled analyses and -devices gave rise to numerous new and improved techniques and methods in the field of life-science R&I (cf. Visualisation of Technology Convergence). After some years of maturing and advocating several nanotechnology-enabled concepts and devices in their own right, as well as investigating their impact on human health and the environment, nanotechnology appears to now have come of age into being an accepted provider of solutions to urgent overarching questions of human health (cf. COVID-19: NanoMedicine’s finest hour) and sustainability (cf. Mapping the scientific Landscapes of Nanofabrication & Sustainability).
What, in your opinion, is the most important thing (tool, process, support, etc.) that is needed right now to help grow and strengthen the nanotechnology community?
Both the complexity and the detailed scientific research needed to advance the anticipated nanotechnology-based solutions require a widened international collaboration that goes beyond the boundaries of countries and disciplines.
What, in your opinion, are important factors or influences that will affect the direction of the nanotechnology community in the future?
The best innovative solutions to pressing large-scale problems are found at the interface of recombined processes and tools that may be proven and established to work in different (more limited) contexts; successful examples range from the photosynthesis-inspired improvement of photovoltaic devices to the virus-inspired editing of genomes, to name but a few.
A successful implementation of advanced R&I activities at the relevant disciplinary interfaces first and foremost requires the willingness and opportunity to communicate outside one’s own network and circle of expertise; in most (if not all) cases, it may be necessary to support initial attempts of such interdisciplinary communications and collaborations through the harmonisation of language and terminologies. The NanoFabNet Hub provides both initial solutions and room for further advancements to both of these challenges: an online collaboration platform for scientists, technologists and innovators from both the disciplines of micro- and nanotechnology and sustainability from all over the world, as well as network-activities and representation to provide further advancement, as well as visibility and impact to the resulting sustainable high-tech innovations.