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In conversation with Falko Schlottig

Falko Schlottig has been Director of the FHNW School of Life Sciences (HLS) in Muttenz since 2015. The opening of the new FHNW campus in Muttenz poses a particularly interesting challenge right at the beginning of his time here as the two HLS sites in Basel’s Rosental quarter and in Muttenz are merged into one at the Muttenz site. This and the close ties between those active in the life sciences in Northwestern Switzerland are opening up new opportunities and prospects for the HLS.

Our research is geared towards application, we work closely with industry and we can make quick and flexible decisions when it comes to the transfer of technology.

Falko Schlottig

Falko Schlottig.jpgMr Schlottig, you took over as Director of the HLS around two years ago. What has particularly impressed you since then?

The high level of skill, the dedication and the motivation of staff here at the HLS are quite something. From an infrastructural point of view, it was the preparations for our relocation to the new Muttenz campus, where we enjoy visibility not just in terms of our expertise but also thanks to our new building. It will give us the opportunity to be guided by technology in all that we do; in other words, to engage with life sciences in a focussed and interdisciplinary way. It is also allowing us to run a completely new process and technology centre in which we can map processes just as they are carried out today and will be in future in the field of industrial life sciences.

What will be different about the work in the new Kubuk building?

As the HLS, we will be working together with all the institutes and channelling their disciplinary competence in order to deal with all manner of new technological questions. We also expect to work more closely with the other schools at the FHNW and to have the chance to jointly tackle interdisciplinary topics such as the digital transformation or our ageing society. The new infrastructure at the Muttenz campus will also allow us to act as a meeting place for the surrounding industry and local people.

 What makes HLS an attractive partner for companies?

We have staff with experience of industry and of projects, with specific technological and interdisciplinary expertise, as well as state-of-the-art infrastructure and the ability to transfer technology quickly and flexibly.

 What makes HLS an interesting place for students?

The HLS offers students a highly practice-based programme of study and is able to exploit its contacts with industry for project work and Bachelor’s and Master’s theses. Eighty per cent of our students’ Bachelor’s and a full one hundred percent of Master’s theses are carried out in industry. What is more, our graduates are highly sought-after employees in industry after completing their studies.

 Why should researchers come to the HLS?

The HLS is the perfect place for scientists with a keen interest in seeing the results of their application-based research in a product or the development of a product.

 How does HLS work with its partners?

The work we do with our partners takes various forms. One of these is direct projects that have been commissioned specially and where we work closely with the relevant firm to solve a problem. Another is projects with companies supported by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) to develop new technologies or to drive the development of products. A third strand includes all manner of different kinds of national and international funding boards, from the EU and the Swiss National Science Foundation through to foundations that promote partnerships like these.

 Does the HLS also want to take a more international stance in future?

A university of applied sciences is an institution with a local focus but an international network and presence. And you can't carry out successful application-based research at an exclusively local level. You have to keep an eye on what is going on elsewhere and you need an international platform in order to develop over the long term. The overwhelming majority of firms we partner with work on the international arena. We need to do our bit too if we want to train our students well and if they want to work at one of the local firms with an international focus later on. We're already doing so now through our work with all kinds of different academic institutions in other countries and aim to increase these efforts further in future.

 Does knowledge transfer play a role at HLS?

Knowledge transfer is essential for us. It takes two forms: the first is our work with firms. We have to be able to act quickly and flexibly here if both sides are to be successful. The second is our support for start-ups: we are one of the leading institutions in Northwestern Switzerland in this regard and want to enhance this culture further.

FHNW School of Life Sciences

FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland School of Life Sciences Hofackerstrasse 30 CH - 4132 Muttenz
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