VP of Marketing & Business Development, CSEM Executive Board Member

Born in 1962

Lives in Lausanne

Originally from Thessaloniki in northern Greece, Georges Kotrotsios studied electrical engineering at Aristotle University. Driven by an interest in other cultures, Georges then left for Grenoble, France to pursue a second master’s degree in instrumentation and electronics. That was where Georges first heard about the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), which had just been created in 1984. In March of the following year, Georges, a tech enthusiast, moved to Neuchâtel for his master’s internship at the CSEM. He followed up with a doctorate in fibre optic applications in telecommunications and sensors, which he completed in 1989. Georges left the CSEM in 1995 for several years before returning in 2000. Five years later, he took on the role of vice president of marketing & business development. During those five years Georges completed an MBA in technology management in order to expand his horizons and gain a broader perspective of engineering.

One of his current missions is to strengthen the ties between academia and industry, to serve as an accelerator for real-world applications of research. He invests considerable energy in developing relationships with local partners such as Haute École Arc (HE-Arc), the Neuchâtel campus of EPFL, and the University of Neuchâtel (UniNE). Highly active in international research, he participated in creating the Heterogeneous Technology Alliance (HTA), which brings together CSEM and three other prestigious research centres, including the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The HTA, whose rotating chairmanship has twice been held by Georges, plays an important role in coordinating European research in technology. Since 2009, Georges has also been a member of the executive board of the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO), which liaises with the European Commission.

How does the Microcity label help you to promote CSEM’s activities ?

The label helps to promote Neuchâtel as the worldwide leader in microtechnology, intelligent systems, and micromachining. These fields are especially important now with the rise of digital, as it has generated a need to translate the real world, referred to as the analogue world, to the digital world. This translation takes place through ever smaller, more complex and multi-functional objects. And all of this we can do in the Neuchâtel region, which has them in its DNA, as do all the industry players based at Microcity.
The other advantage of the Microcity label is that it informs industry of the existence of a continuum of functions offered by a an array of innovators. This ranges from academic research conducted at universities to technological research, as well as the effective and efficient transfer of that research to industry, which is CSEM’s primary mission. Everyone is pulling in the same direction. And even though there might appear to be some overlap in what is being done, the approaches are still complementary: academic at EPFL, engineering-oriented at HE-Arc, and technological with us, with the major infrastructure that this involves.

Since 2014, what collaborations have you undertaken with the other members of Microcity ?

We’ve mainly worked with EPFL, UniNE, and HE-Arc. For example, with EPFL, researchers are working on automation in manufacturing cell culture products. With HE-Arc, we created a centre for characterisation, to offer industry the means to carry out complementary mechanical and structural characterisation of miniaturised devices, such as those made of silicon, or, of course, other materials.

It is worth noting that we carry out between 40% and 50% of our projects with SMEs / start-ups, many of which are located in the canton of Neuchâtel. By working with us, these firms benefit from the expertise of experienced researchers, establishing long-term relationships. These collaborations provide with access to heavy-duty research infrastructure, such as cleanrooms, which would otherwise be out of reach for these firms. In watchmaking, medicine or machine tooling, numerous examples demonstrate that when CSEM works with a SME, each Swiss franc invested has a significant impact on its competitiveness. 

In your opinion, what are the major challenges facing the canton of Neuchâtel in terms of innovation ?

In 2018, the digitisation of our environment lies at the heart of our preoccupations. The region has a lot to offer in this process. The “thing” in the Internet of Things (IoT) requires very specific expertise, which we already have and ought to continue developing. These connected things have to be personalised to the environment in which they are used,  and will require sensors, processors, communication systems, and energy sources. Most importantly, they will need to be personalised according to their application. All these elements can be developed here, and, therefore, fit into the future global IoT value chain. This corresponds exactly to our technological profile: precise, miniaturised, often complex, ultra-low power consuming, and with high added value. To benefit from the development of digital, stakeholders in the canton of Neuchâtel must position themselves at the forefront of integrating these ‘made-to-measure’ intelligent systems and of implementing those systems in the digital value chain.


Written by Victoria Barras

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