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eMembrane - IC Report Red Herring Newsletters April May 2004 (Page 14)

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eMembrane - IC Report Red Herring Newsletters April May 2004
Dr. Herve Gallaire is the chief technology officer at
Xerox Innovation Group, where he's responsible for inte-
grating technology into products today and for creating
the research agenda of the future. Since joining Xerox 14
years ago, Gallaire has managed the Xerox Research
Centre Europe, where he has ser ved as chief architect and
most recently as senior vice president for Xerox research
and technology. Prior to joining Xerox, Gallaire headed
the department of mathematics and computer science at
the prestigious L'Ecole Nationale Superieure de
l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace in his native France.
IC Report: How difficult is it to integrate technology
developed in the research lab into commercial products?
Herve Gallaire: The real challenge in trying to connect
the technology to the marketplace is the traditional ten-
sion for any corporation: the need to sustain your core
business and the need to create new oppor tunities that
may be connected, or loosely connected, to your business.
ICR: How do you strike a balance between the ongoing
demands of development and research?
HG: It is easy for development teams to demand more
from the group as the market demands more. And that is
important, since it supports the core business and gener-
ates momentum. But there needs to be a balance so that
development does not overshadow research.
ICR: How are the challenges of being a researcher dif-
ferent today from when you started at Xerox 14 years ago?
HG: It is much harder to be researcher today than when
I was one. Today researchers have to be more aware of
the pact between research and business and they have to
understand the endpoint of their work.
ICR: How is the nature of research and innovation dif-
ferent in Europe than it is in the United States?
HG: Europe is less interested in testing new ideas, so fewer
products are being tested and that makes it very difficult to
move into large markets. What you notice is that research
in European institutions tends to be more polarized on the
theoretical side. Also the innovation coming out of U.S.
universities has essentially been conducted through startups
and there is not an equivalent vehicle in Europe.
ICR: What about collaborative research and its role in
creating innovations in Europe?
HG: Collaborative industrial research has evolved much
faster and I'm not sure if it is a good or bad thing. It was
the impulse of the European Union to create collabora-
tive research in industries like the semiconductor
industr y. One can argue that more successful things are
coming out of more collaborative programs.
ICR: How do you spot new ideas in research that have
commercial potential?
HG: It is the technology organization that evaluates the
potential of new technology. We tr y hard to ask ourselves
questions like, what modifications could we make to it
and what other approaches could be applied to make the
technology better?
ICR: Has the gestation period from idea to product
changed considerably on the past 10 years?
HG: Well, look at the work we have done with elec-
tronic paper technology. It was a vision that was par t of
the core of Xerox and it took 15 years for people to look
at it and make it jell into a business oppor tunity. The
idea was to develop a medium close to paper, in fact as
close as possible, while removing one of the drawbacks
of paper, which is that paper can only be used once. We
decided it was better for Xerox to do it rather than
someone else.
ICR: What do you see as the promising synergies
between nanotechnology and computing?
HG: The combination of nanotechnology and com-
puting will be ver y fr uitful. We plan on creating new
products that move us to the next wave of chemistr y,
where we are building products from the ground up,
molecule by molecule.
ICR: What are the skills that will be important in the
workforce as advanced technologies like nanoengi-
neering take hold?
HG: There will be a need for more systems people,
people who can develop a view of a system and optimize
it. We need people who can think in terms of systems and
solve problems.
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