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A conversation with Falko Schlottig

The FHNW School of Life Sciences (HLS) moved into the new Muttenz campus in 2018. For HLS director Falko Schlottig, the joint campus is a great success both for researchers and for HLS industry partnerships. The new campus promotes interdisciplinary cooperation and provides a foundation for collaborative research projects. The HLS is ready to face the future.

Our goal is for the HLS to be the obvious first contact for life sciences firms.

Falko Schlottig

What has changed with the opening of Campus Muttenz?

The university has moved the two former locations into one, enabling us to exchange knowledge, experience and ideas better and to take full advantage of our infrastructure for education and research. In 2019 there is a new Bachelor of Science programme structure with new content and new fields of study. At Master’s level, the FHNW School of Business and the HLS are introducing a joint Master’s degree in medical and business IT.

Can you benefit from synergies?

There are a range of synergies within the HLS as well as across all the faculties in the new campus and this cultural shift will benefit us in the long term. We already have closer teaching cooperation with the FHNW School of Education and the FHNW School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geomatics.

Has the campus led to more intensive cooperation with industry?

Yes, we have seen that clearly. Almost every week industry events are held on the new campus, both with HLS partners and run for other organisations. We often combine these with guided tours through our laboratories and technology centres. In this way we are preparing the ground for companies to network even better with us and with each other.

What makes the HLS such a sought-after partner for industry?

Firstly, thanks to cooperation founded on specific expertise and experience across disciplines; we have set up our facilities in such a way that all our laboratories are interconnected, thus improving communication and facilitating projects. Secondly, we have an extensive new process and technology centre on three floors of the building, which en- ables us to replicate almost all value-added processes in the life science industry in both development and production.

So from idea to packaged product?

Exactly. A typical project for our university today would be: “Can you support us in the formulation, production and packaging of a drug?” We can provide a complete single-source and field-specific solution.

What is the current HLS research goal?

The focus is on developing added value and solutions for, and in collaboration with, industry. This clearly includes driving our own innovative approaches and taking them up to technology transfer or establishing start-ups. More than 700 companies are active in research and production in the northwest Switzerland life sciences sector; we already work with more than 100 of them. Our goal is for the HLS to be the obvious first contact for firms when looking for solutions.

Have HLS research fields changed in the last two to three years?

Yes. We analyse which way industry is developing and expand or create the relevant expertise.

What questions will HLS researchers address in the coming years?

We will continue to be involved in every aspect of the life sciences sector. A current example is questions relating to data science: what is real, what will become reality and what is just academic hype? What does data science mean for life sciences development and production processes? Can machine learning be applied in the development of bio- technology-controlled processes? What does data science really mean for personalised medicine? How is it implemented? What do business models in the highly regulated pharmaceutical and medical technology environment look like? How will the hospitals of the future be organised? How does IT interface with classical chemical-pharmaceutical, medical-technical and bioanalytical trades? Who is driving development? What does that require from our education programmes? How can all this be brought together to create real added value in the end? With the expertise, experience, interdisciplinary approach and proximity between departments at our university, we are in an excellent position. We have many of the departments necessary in-house and a lot of exciting work ahead of us.

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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