Interview of Maurizio Gabbrielli, Head of EIT Digital Doctoral School

Maurizio Gabbrielli, Head of Doctoral School at EIT Digital

Maurizio Gabbrielli, Head of Doctoral School at EIT Digital

Maurizio Gabbrielli joined EIT Digital on January 1st 2015 as Head of Doctoral School. He is based in Paris, France, but works with a European team spread all across Europe. He talks to us about his role and ambition for Doctoral School at EIT Digital.

What is EIT Digital Doctoral School? 

EIT Digital's Doctoral School mission is to educate tomorrow's leaders and innovators in digital technologies by combining excellent technical programmes with Innovation and Entrepreneurship education. The technical programme is carried out in the 18 partner universities that we have in Europe. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship education is provided in our 7 Doctoral Training Centres located in Budapest, Helsinki, Madrid, Paris, Rennes, Sophia-Antipolis and Trento in EIT Digital co-location centres and satellites. This combination of academic and industrial education, offered at European level, is the distinguishing feature of our school.

How many students do you currently have on board? What are their added value? 

We have currently around 130 students in the Doctoral School, 63% of them are coming from Europe and 21% are women. We had our first graduate in 2015 and four more students will finish the programme in February 2016. We will celebrate their graduation at our next partner event in April 2016. These five graduates are already actively working as innovators: two in the R&D divisions of two major companies and three in their own start-ups. These examples confirm the added value of our graduates: a deep technical mastering of new digital technologies, combined with strong problem solving skills, and the ability to turn them into business opportunities. Students without a PhD level education today miss such a deep technologies mastering. On the other hand, graduates from more traditional PhD programmes often have not the skills needed to turn technology into business.

"Our PhD graduates will successfully lead innovation, both in existing companies and in new start-ups."

What is your role as the Head of Doctoral School? 

The Head of Doctoral School coordinates the activities of the Doctoral School Office and of the persons who are running the 7 Doctoral Training Centres. In this context, it is important to listen to the needs of all our students, first of all, but also those of the universities and of the industrial partners who contribute to our programme. Being a professor of Computer Science from the University of Bologna in Italy, I have always been working with students, so this job is quite natural for me. Nevertheless, this new form of education and its European dimension were very interesting and challenging for me and this is why I accepted this job. 

What are your main challenges? 

Our initial results are good and we are now fine-tuning our programme in order to find the right balance between academic and industrial education. We are also working on the integration with other national and European programmes in order to build up thematic, permanent networks for industrial PhD education in Europe. As for other educational programmes, one of our main challenges is now to measure the impact of our Doctoral School at a societal level.

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