Filling the Shelves of the One Stop-Shop

by Dan Kolmer

One of brainpower austria's activities is to bundle the maximum number of job offers for scientists, researchers, developers, and what can be loosely referred to as innovation managers and personnel at all times and present them on one location on the Web. New vacancies are also published in newsletters to brainpower jobseekers on a regular basis.
{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick - all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest}This is necessary to accomplish brainpower's main goal, which is to contribute to the strengthening of Austria's innovative capabilities by making it easier for essential personnel to work in Austria. However, this is a relatively slow process requiring a constant input of well-directed effort. It comprises the identification of institutions and enterprises doing research and development, making contact with them, winning their cooperation, and building a successful working relationship.

Identification involves research in various databases, screening of various newspapers and magazines, looking for multipliers, and interviewing information contacts. Results are input into a database, which is used to efficiently contact likely prospects. After an initial contact, brainpower austria's offer is usually presented to the CSO, CEO, or head of the human resources department of an enterprise or institution. Companies and institutions are invited to make use of brainpower austria's services regardless of whether they have current vacancies. Few CSOs or heads of human resources decline the offer to be able to browse brainpower's online database.

To date the activities in this field have yielded partnerships with 82 companies and 51 other scientific institutions (as of November 11, 2004), and 251 vacancies have been placed online since the start of the project. Many of the major Austrian or transnational companies that are active in R&D in Austria are already partners of brainpower austria. Representatives of three companies that have been partners of brainpower austria for various lengths of time offer their opinions of our services.

Reinhard Hafellner, CEO and Head of Development of Advanced Polymer Engineering GmbH (ape)
Advanced polymer engineering GmbH (ape) was founded in 1998 by two graduates (plastics engineering and polymer science) of the Montan University of Leoben, Austria (of which Dipl. Ing. Hafellner is one, and the CSO of the company, Dr. Mlekusch, is the other). The core activity of ape is concept finding and optimization of product ideas based on the profound understanding and interpretation of physical and mechanical processes. Ape works with a wide range of simulation software combined with mechanical analysis methods such as strain gage measurement and microscopy. The main areas of application are plastics and composites.

The typical workflow of ape projects is the development of a specific concept for a product, an analytical phase in which operational characteristics are subjected to simulation and tests, and then product design and prototyping and finally testing. Typically, the design is next handed over to the client, although limited-lot production is sometimes done. Ape finds its clients in the automotive sector, as well as among sports equipment, mechanical engineering, electrical, electronics, and medical technology companies.

Mr. Hafellner sees brainpower austria as an interesting addition to the human resources sector. He is quite satisfied with the quality of the potential applicants. Ape will make use of brainpower's services to further the company's growth, and Mr. Hafellner considers brainpower austria to be a good basis for more innovation in Austria.
Petra Wernbacher, Human Resources Management, Fischer Advanced Composite Components AG (FACC)
FACC is a leading Austrian company in the development, design, and fabrication of fiber-reinforced lightweight systems for the aviation industry. It is also Austria's largest aerospace company. FACC manufactures a wide range of products, from structural aircraft components to fuselage, wing, and empennage; engine nacelle components; and complete aircraft cabins, employing state-of-the-art composite technology and advanced design and manufacturing methods. Among the company's most high-profile products at present are the flap track fairings for the new A380 Airbus.

FACC's high-performance composite components' characteristics can be engineered for specialized applications because they feature high strength and light weight as well as good vibrational damping and a low coefficient of thermal expansion. These materials also inherently reduce fatigue and provide design/fabrication flexibility that can significantly decrease the number of parts needed for specific applications. Composite materials have proven resistance to temperature extremes and are resistant to corrosion and wear. Tailorable fiber orientation offers a particular advantage, especially in structural aerospace applications.

FACC offers a modular service concept including conceptual development, detail design, tool design and fabrication, manufacturing engineering, first article inspection, and components fabrication. Research is carried out in-house as well as in cooperation with Austrian and foreign universities. In addition, FACC is actively involved in R&D programs of the European Union.

Ms. Wernbacher sees brainpower austria as a good project with the potential to get interesting know-how to Austria. She especially likes its possibilities to reach beyond the EU in recruiting, the Impulse Project funding line offer, and the success-related payment option, as this minimizes the risk in adopting new human resources services. Ms. Wernbacher also considers brainpower's service to be very fast, nonbureaucratic, and frictionless. Brainpower's poolof applicants is seen to offer a wide choice, and the database is regarded as easy to use and well structured. It is and will be used actively to look for interesting candidates, and Ms. Wernbacher hopes that it will increase in size.

Reinhold Bayer (at left, with the company's CEO and CSO), COO, ORIDIS Biomed Forschungs- und EntwicklungsGmbH
ORIDIS Biomed is a start-up research and development company focused on the generation of insights into the origin and progression of diseases. Diseased tissue contains important information about the genetic and epigenetic alterations that caused a disease and influenced its outcome. The cellular functions that are affected by these alterations indicate potential targets for new and focused therapeutic intervention.

Application of novel and specifically developed genomic and proteomic analysis platforms to one of the world's most comprehensive collections of diseased and nondiseased human tissues (2.5 million fixed and over 25,000 frozen tissue samples) provides excellent opportunities to discover new targets for diagnosis and therapy of diseases.

ORIDIS's approach puts special emphasis on the medical validation of targets. By introducing the criterion of medical relevance early in the drug development pipeline, attrition and therefore costs will be markedly reduced and development periods shortened. Validated targets will be either out-licensed to biotech or pharmaceutical companies or further developed with strategic partners up to phase I/IIa clinical trials.

ORIDIS is active in three business areas:
  • In-house target identification and validation research, utilizing precisely characterized human diseased and nondiseased tissues with a unique combination of genomic and proteomic platforms
  • Joint drug development with strategic partners
  • Research service work for corporate customers utilizing the human tissue resources and Oridis analysis platforms.
Dr. Bayer is very satisfied with brainpower's services and its performance. ORIDIS is actively recruiting at the moment and uses brainpower's services frequently. The first interview with a brainpower candidate is already scheduled, after two other candidates (one of them brainpower's) who were invited accepted other offers. There is a continuing flow of applications from brainpower candidates, according to Dr. Bayer. Dr. Bayer describes brainpower's pool of candidates as being good. He expects to use brainpower's services regularly during the next 15 to 18 months, during which ORIDIS will expand.

Overall, brainpower is considered as a valuable asset for a start-up in an expansion phase, as it gives access to scientists who have international experience. The only improvement that Dr. Bayer suggests concerns the usability of brainpower's online database interface, which he considers to have somewhat of a learning curve.

Obviously, there is not unanimous praise and acceptance for brainpower austria. Some presentations and interviews, while giving general approval of the idea, have also produced critical questions and suggestions.

Some companies follow, or have to follow, a strategy of hiring personnel with very clearly defined job descriptions, as much industry experience as possible, and also often with a lower level of qualification (though not of specialization) than that displayed by brainpower candidates. Often such companies operate training partnerships with local technical schools, getting good early insight into likely prospects and a valuable first opportunity to hire. In such cases, they tend to decline the use of brainpower's services. Other companies use a strategy of developing and keeping long-standing and well-integrated teams of developers. In such cases, the interest in sources of new talent is also much lower.

Overall, the shelves in the brainpower one-stop shop for science jobs are getting fuller, both in the job and in the job seeker aisles. The quality of the product is good, at least according to some of the clients. The drive to acquire as many partners offering vacancies as possible will also be a top priority next year, with the aim of finally having a large majority of Austria's scientific institutions and companies as brainpower austria partners and posting their vacancies. Once this is achieved, Austria will be one of the few countries, if not the only one, to offer such an overview of the national science job market.{/access}