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Insofar as PhDs carry their innovation projects, could they not be entrusted with new responsibilities in the enterprise environment ?

Insofar as PhDs carry their innovation projects, could they not be entrusted with new responsibilities in the enterprise environment ?

Insofar as PhDs carry their innovation projects, could they not be entrusted with new responsibilities in the enterprise environment ?

Engineering graduates tend to evolve e more rapidly towards wider scope of technical functions or to management positions, while the PhDs are somewhat limited to their specialist area of competence. Why is this? “PhDs are first seen as research scientists who have skills in handling concepts and more so are totally committed to their speciality are of research” says Jacques BITON, a PhD awarded by UTC-Compiegne, who has become CEO of DEINOVE which is an innovating company in biotechnologies. “Despite their unquestioned competences in specialist fields, PhDs show their determination to invest in often long-term projects and take a wider perspective view of their research work, but having said this, they appear less involved in the ambient socio-economic context.” Florian BOUCHER, who also holds a PhD from UTC-Compiegne who had the opportunity to turn his thesis work into a business, when he was Project Manager at STRYKER’s, one of the worlds leaders in orthopaedics, concludes “Enterprise still continues to see the PhD as an expert”.

It is still true that the doctoral courses notably at UTC-Compiegne are oriented more and more to industrial needs? “The PhD courses themselves are modulated as a function of industrial realities, integrating aids to the construction of the professional project of the doctoral student”, adds Chantal PEROT, director of the doctoral school at UTC-Compiegne. “Our school at Compiegne aims at integrating a level of professionalism that is compatible with the demands made by the economic partners within the area of academic research with all its rigour and creativity; in this vein, the UTC-Compiegne doctoral students will be able to think ahead to an industrial career, in terms of the research work they undertake.”

Industrial competitivity which is becoming increasingly complex calls for continuous innovation work. This innovation work is very often carried out by PhDs in the enterprise. “It is relatively easy to identify the various roles that exist in an enterprise: technicians control the machines and equipment; engineers develop tools and define the means needed to solve the problems encountered. PhDs can be the initiators for innovative products or processes and demonstrate thereby their creative talents” explains Gilles BOUVIER, Head of the Manpower Services at ALSTOM. “Why couldn’t we reserve an innovation management position for young PhDs who would like to gain employment in enterprise and proves their worth? asks Florian BOUCHER. “What we must do is to question the functions assigned to PhDs in enterprise and profit from the fact that university-enterprise relations are changing rapidly. The University, in essence, is changing its outlook. We can be assured, as I see it, that the recent University Reform Bill (and it is the University that awards the doctoral degree) will lead an increasing number of companies to be interested in PhDs and their work”. It will now be the role of the recruiting managers and the corporate leaders to redefine the missions that will be entrusted in young PhDs in enterprise, where the starting salaries have at last been given a significant impetus.