Strengthen the core competencies, establishing the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany and moving ahead with major building projects: in the interview, the two new acting directors of Fraunhofer IAF Prof. Dr. Joachim Wagner und Dr. Martin Walther explain their plans for the strategic orientation of the institute during the interim period.
Mr. Wagner and Mr. Walther, you are here today not only as division directors, but first and foremost in your new role as acting directors of Fraunhofer IAF. What do you plan to do differently?
WAGNER – As acting directors, we see it as our primary role to maintain internal and external continuity. But it’s also important to wisely seize opportunities for new research topics and funding formats so that whoever is appointed to succeed Oliver Ambacher has the best possible starting conditions.
WALTHER – We want to act strategically to continue the success of Fraunhofer IAF. In particular, we want to strengthen our core competences while also exploring new opportunities for cooperation that might make sense for the institute. This echoes the recommendation of this year’s technology audit that we focus on depth rather than on further breadth.
Are there any major projects or plans coming up that you would like to push forward? What lies ahead for Fraunhofer IAF in 2017?
WAGNER – In 2017 we will mainly be concerned with establishing the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany which is being funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research. Fraunhofer IAF coordinates the technology park »Compound Semiconductors«. We will be using the funding of 15.6 M € for Fraunhofer IAF mainly for new equipment in order to remain competitive on the global research market for semiconductor industry. I also see particular opportunities in the upcoming funding initiatives for quantum technologies.
WALTHER – In order to be well positioned internally, we want to move ahead with our two major building projects, the laboratory building and the MOCVD hall, and complete renovations in the clean room.
Will you continue to pursue ongoing projects at the institute? Or is it already clear that some projects will not continue?
WALTHER – The major research topics in the business units will certainly remain in place and ongoing projects will continue. Projects and research topics which are nearing completion and are not central to our core competences will have to be reassessed, bearing in mind, however, that this is precisely where most innovations arise.
Have you clearly defined your respective areas of responsibility yet? Who will represent the institute and on which issues – in particular publicly?
WAGNER – As part of my role as division director for the business units, I will take on the role of »foreign minister«. This means that I am the point of contact for industrial customers, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the ministries of the Länder, as well as for universities, the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics and Fraunhofer UK.
WALTHER – Along these same lines, my role is rather that of the »interior minister«. I am responsible for the departments and infrastructure as well as the scientific core competences. I am the contact for the German Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) and the associated offices as well as for the Fraunhofer Group for Defense and Security. Irrespective of this division of responsibility, which is set down in the rules of procedure, we will of course work together closely and consult with one another extensively. Decisions which affect multiple divisions will be made jointly.
What will happen after the interim period and who will serve as the new director currently remains an open question. What qualifications do you believe the new director should possess?
WALTHER – Along with professional expertise in the broad field of III-V compound semiconductors, I feel that leadership and management experience are particularly important. A strong network across the scientific and research landscape, experience in attracting and leading major projects, as well as strong strategic thinking skills.
The interim period is currently expected to last around 18 months. In three words, what do you stand for?
WALTHER – For the three Cs: core competence development, communication, cooperation.
WAGNER – Quality, reliability, sustainability.