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Thanks to a variety of partnerships with universities, tesa spans a global network for fostering innovation and for encouraging the next generation. All those involved benefit from the lively exchange with researchers, study groups, students and graduates – selected projects show what such collaborations may look like.
Every year, tesa issues a variety of topics that are researched by university graduates in their final theses within the framework of cooperation agreements. The topics may refer to strategic issues (for example, regarding internationalization, see Info Box), but their focus is on development and innovation. It is usually the laboratory managers who cast their lines to bring new talents on board. They can then, for example, work on specific queries about polymerization or on other key subjects in the tesa product and development world.
Furthermore, there are many collaborations with research groups at universities and other institutions, where tesa acts as a driving force. "For example, the university provides its know-how, laboratories and special measuring devices, while tesa supplies tape samples, gives researchers an insight into development practice and challenges them with specific questions from the perspective of a developer," explains Dr. Klaus Keite-Telgenbüscher, Laboratory Manager Novel & Functional Materials. A win-win situation.
One of Dr Jake Przyojski's first initiatives when he joined tesa in 2018 as Lab Manager Research and Development at the location in Sparta, Michigan (USA) was to initiate a cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he himself studied under Richard R. Schrock, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry of 2005. "This type of cooperation shows that we are in the top league when it comes to innovation and one-step-ahead thinking – an important signal, also with regard to recruiting," says Przyoski.
The MIT, located on the Charles River in Cambridge, just across from Boston and not far from Harvard University, is one of the world's leading research institutes. It was the first university to train chemical engineers and it pursues the special approach of including economics and social sciences as well as humanities in engineering studies. tesa has been a Silver Sponsor of the annual Polymer Day at the MIT since 2019 and is currently funding a doctoral thesis from the scientific working group of Professor Rob Macfarlane on high-performance crosslinking systems for ACX technology.
In September 2019, Ruth Long moved from Houston, Texas (USA) to Hamburg. At the Hamburg University of Technology she's working on her master on 'International decision-making frameworks for location planning'. Long is writing her thesis as part of a framework contract in the EPT (Engineering and Procuring Technology) department at tesa. "We met Ruth Long in 2019 and brought her here as a master student in 2020," says Dirk Holland, Corporate Director of Engineering & Production Technology. "That was the best thing to happen," adds Long. "The ambiance here is very appreciative – it couldn't be more motivating. And the project I'm working on is taking me exactly in the direction I want to develop professionally." Against this background, the 26-year-old is learning German along the way, even though English perfectly serves her as the lingua franca in working life. For her double master’s degree at the Hamburg University of Technology, she also attends seminars at the Northern Institute of Technology Management (NIT), where international students, engineers and scientists are trained by top-class lecturers on issues of responsible behavior in a global world.
"University partnerships help make tesa better known as a brand and as a top employer all over the world."
Technology Scouting Manager
Double Dynamic Network (DoDyNet) is an EU-funded three-year program. As part of the project, twelve students ("Early-Stage Researchers") from eight different European universities work on their doctorate and research together with their university supervisors, an international advisory board, and European industrial partners – including tesa SE – on topics relating to the synthesis and analysis of polymer gels and networks.
tesa provides material samples as well as internship positions and organizes a yearly industrial workshop. While the other industrial partners are pursuing their own specific issues, tesa is interested in researching new types of adhesives, such as self-healing gels. In addition to innovative knowledge concerning networking polyacrylates, tesa also wants to expand professional collaboration in an international network of recognized experts and, last but not least, position the company as an attractive employer for highly qualified young people.
Every year a group of about ten students from the Ecole Supérieure de Chimie, Physique, Electronique de Lyon (CPE Lyon) visits the tesa Headquarter for twelve-month internships. The French university even has an in-house manager for international exchange. "It is a true pleasure to work with the French students," raves Matthias Koop, Lab Manager Research & Development. "All of them have so much laboratory experience that already after a very short time we let them work fully independently on specific projects." That provides a valuable experience for both sides. So much so, that some talents from Lyon come back at a later point in time, for example for their master thesis.
"With every committed intern we win twice: the pleasure of knowing an inspirational student and the pleasure of dedicating ourselves to fostering a young talent."
Three years ago, when engineering students from the University of Leuven in Belgium contacted tesa Benelux to ask for support for their project, of course, the answer was: We're all in!
With donations, special discounts, and technical advice, the Belgian tesa colleagues helped the future engineers build the BluePoint racing car, which would then participate in the World Solar Challenge in Australia. For 15 months, they were developing, testing, repairing and optimizing, using tesa products from A for ACXplus to W for wire harnessing tapes. Their efforts were fruitful: On October 13, 2019, after driving more than 3,000 km, BluePoint crossed the finish line as the winner, despite strong winds.
"By participating in special student projects, we encourage young people to be enthusiastic about innovation – and we thus promote the very spirit we need as a technology company."
Head of Human Resources
Inventiveness doesn't belong behind closed doors, as Dr. Weiping Mei, Corporate Technology Manager Innovation Processes, is convinced: "That approach is no longer up-to-date. To promote innovation, we need exchange, diversity, and flexibility. It's the only way to guarantee long-term success." Against this backdrop, tesa opened their doors in China and entered new strategic territory with the initiative 'Open Innovation'. This includes the expansion of networks with and at universities, for example Tongji University, where German is the first foreign language and construction/architecture is the technical focus; or Beijing Management und Technology University, which coordinates working and research groups on sustainability issues across China.
Dr. Mei initiated a cooperation project for the further development of OCAs (Optical Clear Adhesives) at Soochow University. The Chinese Academy for Inspection and Quarantine, which recently signed a framework cooperation agreement with tesa, also plays a special role. For China, the Academy is something like the Fraunhofer Institute for Germany: The research institute enjoys an excellent reputation as an important point of contact when it comes to the special requirements and technological processes in the Chinese markets. "Talking about our goals and visions," summarizes Dr. Mei, "just doing it, getting together, promoting synergies, seeing what happens, always being one step ahead: This way we can identify the best ideas and develop truly innovative solutions."