Becoming a CATCH Early Stage Researcher: Why an Industrial PhD?
After my master's degree I received a job offer out of academia and pulled away from scientific research. Over the years, while the career evolved,I dedicated less time to research and it bothered me, especially because I saw the wide possibility to apply scientific methods for business decision-making. But in a way, the speed of Business does not have time to wait for the scientific process and its protocols. New technologies usually focuses on exclusive ownership while scientific breakthroughs depend on open exchange of ideas. A balance between these two will ensure success in both fields.
“…commercial success with a new technology usually depends on the exclusive ownership of a critical asset of capability.”
“...scientific breakthroughs depend upon the open exchange of ideas and the ability to draw knowledge from many sources.”
Although I enjoyed scientific research very much, dropping my career and doing an academic PhD did not appeal to me at this point. My feeling was that science had not followed the constant innovation of the business world, especially technologies. I found some studies on reviewing the quality of smartphone applications, but few addressed processes that lead to the development of a quality App. Still, the research seeking to guide scientifically tested Apps, does not treat the business theme: Is this App economically viable?
In physical activity and sport, I perceived researchers and professionals (Personal Trainers) hardly criticizing Fitness Apps, and at the same time, more and more applications were appearing. I wondered, if the experts criticize these applications so much, why does the public's interest in these Apps grow so much? This is where my journey really began. I began to imagine the potential for technology to make exercise in a much larger, diverse, scientific and profitable business. Obviously I know that I am no genius and I was fully convinced that there were already people studying and developing it. Then I started to look for scientific centers in cooperation with the health business.
I have found some interesting initiatives mainly in Europe, the United States and Australia. One of them was the Innovative Training Networks (ITN) model a EU action linked to Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships. I looked for projects within the Horizon 2020 also from the European Commission and I came across two institutions that particularly attracted me, because the way they treated the business-academia relationship. The first one was Salumedia, a Spanish tech-start-up based in Seville, with its founders all with extensive experience in scientific research. The other was the Insight Centre that operates within the University College Dublin (UCD), in an academic environment of excellence and with a distinct business vision.
“Innovative training networks bring together universities, research centres and companies from different countries worldwide to train a new generation of researchers.
The funding boosts scientific excellence and business innovation, and enhances researchers’ career prospects through developing their skills inentrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.”
I constantly monitored the social networks and actions of these centers and already realized that they participated in European projects of excellence in the model of Industrial Doctorates, where PhD students are divided between a University and partner companies. It was exactly what I was looking for, and when it came to applying for CATCH (Cancer: Activating Technology for Connected Health) I had no doubt that it was the opportunity I was looking for. Upon receiving the news that I had been selected for one of the positions, I made the decision to leave my career in Brazil to move to Europe, to Seville, and work with Oncoavanze, an oncology clinic, founded and managed by Oncologists, with a vision of valuing technology and physical exercise. When I decided to enrol as a 32 years old, I knew that I was not just going back to the academia but evolving into a high quality innovative science and business career development model.