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Interview with Dr. Selina Casutt

By 1 décembre 2023Interviews

Dr. Selina Casutt is the Managing Director of the Innovation Booster Photonics.

In this interview, she is presenting us the Booster Photonics, also powered by Innosuisse.

Dr. Casutt, can you tell us what the focus of the Booster Photonics is?

We aim to foster science-based and sustainable radical innovation to help Swiss companies and organisations to discover novel solutions in Photonics.

Photonics encompasses the generation, transmission, and detection of light in the form of photons. This includes technologies such as LEDs, lasers, optical fibers, optics, photodetectors, and ubiquitous application areas such as telecommunications, information processing, lighting, medicine, laser processing, etc.

Our booster operates on three pillars

  1. General events that provide overall support to our community and foster networking within and beyond the field of photonics
  2. Theme-specific workshops for problem analysis and initiation of potential solution approaches and
  3. Booster projects for testing the technical and economic feasibility of innovative solution ideas.

Dr. Selina Casutt

In concrete terms, what kind of projects can be developed within the Booster Photonics?

In our Booster, we can support projects that aim to address a pressing issue / an unmet need in the field of photonics.

To achieve this, the project team must carefully analyze the problem from various perspectives, identify suitable solutions, and test them for feasibility, viability, and desirability.

At the end of a booster project, the team should have developed answers to these questions, positioning them for a seamless and successful implementation.

Do you already have, from the past selections, a success story to tell about ?

It is great to see that we could facilitate novel partnerships. This means that thanks to our workshops or upon our direct recommendation, partners have come together who are eager to tackle similar challenges and contribute possible solution ideas. Exciting booster projects have emerged from these collaborations, and some of them are now even being implemented in Innosuisse innovation projects. We have seen that the booster is a highly valuable program for successfully supporting the innovation process in its early stages.

How does the ideation process work within your Booster?

Project ideas can arise either in one of our workshops as described above, or teams can apply directly to us for a project.

Our process includes initial application assessments to confirm compliance with the criteria described below by independent experts. Approved projects undergo a mandatory concept review involving booster management and experts one third of the timetable. This ensures consistency with the initial objectives and offers additional support if needed. Subsequent reviews may be carried out on the basis of project status.

It is very important to note that we actively support our teams. During the application phase and also for the running projects, we point out important aspects to teams or, for example, provide them with additional expertise if necessary and give them the support to move their project forward.

What are the selection criteria for your projects?

What are the selection criteria for your projects?

The most important criterion is that there is a clearly identified unmet need. In other words, the team wants to solve an urgent problem, and if successful, there is great potential for implementing their solutions.

In addition, the idea described for the booster project should be novel – not an incremental evolution of something that already exists. It is also important that teams plan to test both the technical and commercial aspects of their idea, i.e. feasibility, desirability and viability must be tested in our projects. Therefore, the team must be diverse to address these issues, i.e. at least technology providers, implementation partners, application specialists/end users, ideally also partners from other cross-technology areas that can broaden the potential solution space, must be represented in the team, and there should be at least one woman in the team. The implementation partner must contribute at least 10% of the requested funds.

What motivated you to join the team of the Booster Photonics?

Personally, I am a big fan of photonics. Photonics offers such a broad spectrum of exciting applications, and the involved fields of technology are also very diverse. We also have great companies and scientific institutes in Switzerland that are active in this field. Thanks to my photonics background, my networking and my experience in both research and industry, it is therefore a great enrichment and motivation for me to contribute to the further growth of photonics and the associated areas in Switzerland.

What is your relationship with the Microtech Booster?

The two fields of microtechnology and photonics have many points of contact and both fields of technology benefit greatly from the mutual exchange as they have similar challenges and can also offer each other new solutions.

There is therefore strong cooperation between our two boosters and we have planned and carried out successful joint activities in the past. For example, we organized a workshop together on the topic of microassembly, in which precisely this mix of our two communities was greatly appreciated by the participants. We are also planning another joint workshop for young talents next year, which we are already very much looking forward to.

What do you gain from this collaboration?

As I said, both our communities benefit greatly from the mutual exchange.
But one very important point: it’s simply great to work with Joëlle and the exchange with her is always a great pleasure. And joy is one of the most important factors for successful innovation in general and running an Innovation Booster in particular!

Selina participate to our event dedicated to young people, especially apprentices foreseen on February 15 & 16th, 2024.

During this event, the 2 best ideas presented to the participants and welcoming industries will win a cash prize of CHF 2’000.00 and potentially CHF 20’000-25’000 supplementary to realize the feasibility study of 6 months, powered by Innosuisse.

Find more information about this event here