Training European Scientists and Engineers to Manage Research Enterprises

William A. Barletta

In 2009 as part of my collaboration with Sincrotrone Trieste (ST) in its FERMI free electron laser project, I had an extended discussion with Professor Carlo Rizzuto, the President of ST, about training the young scientists at Trieste for future leadership roles at the laboratory.  At the time Prof. Rizzuto was also Chairman of European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). He confided that there was a great need throughout Europe for such systematic training for the forty-four research projects and enterprises on the ESFRI roadmap.

In response I shared with him the detailed outline of a three-credit course, “Managing Science in Research Laboratories,” that I had recently presented at the US Particle Accelerator School session hosted by for a Master of Business Administration degree program aimed at European research managers.  Coincidentally, during the same period and only an hour’s drive away, the Faculty of Economics of Ljubljana University, which operates a European (EQUIS) and American (AACSB) accredited business school, was considering how to apply its abilities and resources to Slovenia’s efforts to build its science and technology infrastructure.

Connections were made and later that year the Consortium of partners led by Ljubljana University was awarded European Union Funds to establish COBIK, the Centre of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrumentation and Process Control.  An integral part of the COBIK program was to establish within the university framework a Masters of Business Administration in Research (MBAR). The MBAR mission is to provide European research managers, scientists, and engineers with top-notch business knowledge and skills specific to the research industry. The vision of the COBIK management and both partners in the program high technology company Instrumentation Technologies and the Faculty of Economics is by 2015 to establish MBAR as an internationally recognized business educational and training center for European research managers and scientists.  The audience for MBAR are research managers from European public research institutes and private high technology companies (typical profile: technical experts with great managerial responsibilities but lacking in business training).

As a first step toward offering an accredited MBA in Research in 2012, COBIK offered the first mini-MBAR in February 2011. Mini-MBAR was established as an intensive (20 contact hours), one-module program offered to developers and researchers acting as or aspiring to become managers in their knowledge-intensive organizations.  Mini-MBAR presented an enterprise view of research management that connects the strategic functions of the executive with the operational duties of line management. A similar session is planned for late spring in Trieste in collaboration with Sincrotrone Trieste and other Italian research organizations. 

Also in the planning stage is the next management course to be offered by USPAS, this time with the possible collaboration of colleagues from Ljubljana. The winds of scientific exchange blow in both directions.

The author is Chair-elect of FIP, Director of the US Particle Accelerator School, and Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana.

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