Continuous learning

Alex Bengoa,
Director General of IK4-TEKNIKER

Alex Bengoa is the Director General of IK4-TEKNIKER, a technology centre with a track record of more than 30 years of experience in research related to applied technology transferred to businesses. In this interview, Bengoa describes the path covered by IK4-TEKNIKER in recent years.

1.- Your appointment as Director General of the IK4-TEKNIKER technology centre dates back to 2004. What landmarks have you witnessed in your current capacity and like to underscore?

I find it impossible to underline anything in particular as all the landmarks I’ve witnessed have been associated with difficulties, intricacies and minor successes and failures…

What I do find significant, though, is how all of this has served to support our customers’ businesses and society at large and allowed them to make progress through our collaboration with them.

For sure, this is truly a landmark.

2.-What do you think about the pioneering role played by IK4-TEKNIKER in all of these projects we’re referring to as “landmarks”?

We don’t rate them as successes at IK4-TEKNIKER. I’d rather use the term “continuous learning”.

In our 35 years of research activities we have specialised in what we consider to be our four main areas of research: Advanced manufacturing, surface engineering, ICTs and product engineering.

On the one hand, we foster specialisation and an in-depth command of specific technologies classified under these four major headings and, on the other, connections and transversal work between all four areas to deliver far-reaching solutions to our companies.

We have also created a supportive lifeline for our technological knowledge that has provided us with a better understanding of what the market is actually like, also telling us how to contact customers and understand their needs. I’m referring to a number of highly valuable intangibles that, together with our technological know-how, provide the added value we want to offer our customers through a range of collaborative efforts.

3.- How have these developments improved the reputation and image of IK4-TEKNIKER?

We are aware of the fact that our reputation is based on how our customers and society at large see us. We also know that it not easy to explain what we actually do, nor the ultimate purpose behind our work; this is why certain landmarks have helped us make much more visible some of the very hard work done to date.

A number of great communication actions aimed at sharing our daily work with the world of science, industry and society in general have also been carried out.

For a research centre like ours, it is vital to maintain this level of dialogue with our collaborators.

4.- In what areas do you think the most disruptive developments will take place in the medium/long term?

We are currently dealing with a massive challenge called industry 4.0.

IoT, connectivity, Big-data, smart factories, advanced manufacturing, etc. offer our industry endless opportunities. We’re talking about new technologies, new productive models… things that will lead us to new business models for which we must be ready and not miss this opportunity.

We are already working on several aspects in order to response to the industry in this area.