Where do the outreach, training and collaboration goals of the core facilities intersect?
Alexander: “In the overarching bottom-up approach, I’d say. Our ultimate goal is to bring technology closer to the whole scientific community so that researchers can exploit its possibilities by themselves. To do so, for example, we organize training programs and conferences, which requires close collaboration with industrial, academic and VIB partners. All interested parties are welcome to participate.”
Gert: “Clearly, the activities of the research groups and the VIB cores are complementary but mutually dependent. For example, if we present our work at an international meeting, it will always be the result of a joint effort.”
How do you establish and maintain deep partnerships without losing your independence as an institute?
Sebastian: “Partnerships are mutually beneficial as long as the trains go in the same direction. However, we make sure to sit in the driver’s seat and, as such, take the lead in collaborations with external parties.”
Alexander: “Speaking for the VIB BioInformatics Core, we will always need partnerships to enhance our outreach initiatives. Every two years, for example, we organize a bioinformatics conference together with the VIB Conferences Team where other Belgium PI’s in the field join our scientific committee.”
Gert: “In fact, this holds true for all VIB core facilities. Being connected to like-minded companies and institutes helps us keep pace with rapidly developing technologies, gain visibility in the biotech field and be given worldwide recognition. Thanks to our partners, we’re able to remain at the leading edge as technology experts.”
What kind of employee profiles do VIB core facilities require to fulfill their ambitions?
Saskia: “In previous years, the Bioimaging Core, might, for example, advertise for a facility head with ‘diversified expertise in microscopy’. But since our mission has gradually expanded to include training and consulting, communication and management skills have become indispensable. Without them, it’s impossible to pass on technological knowledge.”
Sebastian: “In short: we’re scientific superheroes – and we haven’t even reached the peak of our capacities. (laughs) No, seriously, if there’s one thing to keep in mind about core facilities, it’s this: our teams are responsible for a whole range of tasks – enabling technologies, improving outreach, providing training and building strong partnerships. And this, of course, requires a diversified workforce.”