Eduard Alarcón is a member of The Collider’s experts committee. Alarcón is a professor and educator, research scientist and student mentor at the Technical University of Catalunya (UPC BarcelonaTech), his alma mater where he graduated MSc -with national award-, and PhD in 2000. He is faculty of the School of Telecommunications at UPC, where he was during the period 2006-2009 the Associate Dean of International Affairs at the School of Telecommunications Engineering. He is an internationally renowned speaker, with invited lectures, keynotes and tutorials across all continents. At The Collider experts’ committee, Alarcón offers a scholarly vision to strategic decisions. For example, he has been a key player in assessing the technological candidacies.
You are one of The Collider’s advisors. Please, tell us about your experience in this role.
This journey is being a privilege and a pleasure, mainly because of participating in a knowledge transfer program with unique features and vision, a program that’s innovating about innovation ecosystems. Its strength has been to attract and incorporate and integrate multiple expertise in a solid program with a crisp novel vision and plan with the proper interplay of all actors. Personally, learning from and working with experts from other domains, other disciplines, other areas, it’s being a genuine privilege.
From your experience as a professor, why would you say there are so little scientists with entrepreneurial ambition?
To my humble understanding, what we need is an entrepreneurial attitude, including first awareness of what entrepreneurship requests and implies, and then collectively take entrepreneurial action. I don’t think a majority of scientists need to acquire entrepreneurial traits, but they instead should preserve generation of novel knowledge and technologies, particularly since a premature entrepreneurial attitude might preclude to do so, which is an indispensable ingredient of innovation. But that knowledge and technology, once generated, needs to permeate through talent funnels. There is indeed a subset of scientists which should do so, either individually or ideal within a team that complements skills, as The Collider is fostering. I do think it’s only a matter of awareness, so that scientists, who inherently exhibit a curiosity for enquiring questions and solving problems, need to be open to problems of social impact. Additionally, we do think that the most virtuous model is not a model in which a single individual is concurrently a scientist and entrepreneur, but one in which a diverse team reinforces and complements, each individual component mastering and leading some expertise, traits or skills, but aware of what others do in pursuit of a tight complementarity. Such complex multi-facet polyhedron team would match the complex system of an entrepreneurial initiative, fractally placed in the complex (eco) system of innovation. We need to educate to make dealing with complexity less complicated.
Which deep technologies are developing more powerfully nowadays from your opinion?
A crucial momentum is occurring in the very field of Artificial Intelligence, an emergent field of activity that stands on top of just using AI algorithms, that up to know have been fruitful by leveraging the abundance of data and computing power. Such timely momentum has a double-fold focus, namely: (a) incorporating specific architectures and co-processors, including silicon chips, that allow low power operation aiming a distributed all-pervasive presence of Artificial Intelligence, as well as (b) Learning and modelling through AI generative models of complexity, this is, learning and modelling the graph network structure that represents the interplay different parts of the system. The combination of Complex Systems and Machine Learning would open floodgates to a new abyss of generative, robust, high-level, creative and scalable systems, that would be operable in natural contexts and human interaction. Learning and modelling complex systems would have a transversal impact to model, understand, predict and interact with any part of the world.
What future do you foresee for tech-transfer programs like The Collider?
It will be as prosperous as we manage to engage the different communities involved, complement the talents and build the bridge between, across and among the diverse groups involved. Namely, the knowledge and technology transfer would be fruitful and will generate manifold impact virtuous circles (or the so-called quintuple helix structures of innovation) provided that the different parts maintain their mission while aware of what other mission’s are, with a focus on their overlap oriented to creating talent funnels. This is, cross-awareness and talent diffusion and fusion. Seasoned by time. Fruits will be harvested when all these actions have as well timeliness.
Eduard Alarcón is a member of The Collider’s experts committee. Alarcón is a professor and educator, research scientist and student mentor at the Technical University of Catalunya (UPC BarcelonaTech), his alma mater where he graduated MSc -with national award-, and PhD in 2000. He is faculty of the School of Telecommunications at UPC, where he was during the period 2006-2009 the Associate Dean of International Affairs at the School of Telecommunications Engineering. The nomadic scholar life took him as invited professor to the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden in 2011 and the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, 2003 and 2006. His research mentoring of a constellation of some 20 research PhD candidate students across his career made him a prolific author with more than 500 co-authored scientific publications, 7 books, 8 book chapters and 12 patents, in the scientific fields of on-chip energy management and RF circuits, energy harvesting, nanosatellites and satellite architectures for Earth Observations, nanotechnology-enabled graphene wireless communications, molecular communications, and AI-defined networks, areas in which he has been participating in EU, DARPA, NSF, NASA and ESA projects, and projects and awards with companies as Google, Intel and Samsung, and in cooperation with colleagues at various departments of MIT, Cornell University, UC Berkeley, GeorgiaTech in US, and Cambridge, KTH, Aalto, EPFL and Moscow Skoltech in Europe. He is an international renowned speaker, with invited lectures, keynotes and tutorials across all continents, including invited lectures at MIT, Intel Massachusetts, IBM TJ Watson NY, Indian Institute of Technology Karagphur, Cadence Santa Clara, MIET Moscow, U. Auckland, New Zealand, U. Shiraz, Iran, and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in Seoul, and he was elected IEEE distinguished lecturer in 2010. Professional officer responsibilities include election to IEEE CAS Board of Governors (2010-2013), and currently worldwide Vice President for Technical Activities of IEEE CAS (2017-2018). Extensive Editorial positions comprise now the current 2018 Editor-on-Chief of IEEE Journal on Emerging topics in Circuits and Systems, and conference organization encompass general co-chair of IEEE ISCAS 2020. He participates in various start-ups with a broad technical breadth as scientific mentor. In Academia, activities related to innovation in higher education include General co-chair of the 2014 CDIO Barcelona International Conference and organizing committee of the 2013 CDIO International conference hosted at MIT and Harvard.