At the TRB in Washington in January, the PTV Group presented its academic partner programme (also read our press release about this). In the interview, Dr. Klaus Nökel, Head of Technology Innovation at PTV, explains the most important points relating to the academic partner programme.
Compass: For many years, PTV has been working closely with research institutions and universities, whether on joint projects or in that we make our software available to universities for academic purposes. What is now the focus of the academic partner programme, what is new, what are the goals?
Klaus Nökel: That’s right, PTV sought contact with academic institutions from the very beginning, whereby a wide variety of reasons were decisive: On the one hand, we learn about new research results that we implement in product improvements from academic contacts; on the other hand, our future users are trained at universities and we would like to familiarize them with our software as early as possible. Meanwhile, however, we have so many contacts that we must work with them more systematically than via individual random relationships.
Compass: How might the future cooperation look like, in concrete terms?
Klaus Nökel: We are planning several formats, according to our different goals. For all academic users, we want to simplify access to our software so that it is used as widely as possible in teaching. A simple price model and the absence of unclear functional limitations are the core.
Then there is the PTV Research Network, a smaller group of academics who use our software in research and thus achieve some sensational new results. We want to grant these users additional advantages when using the software and exchange ideas with them constantly about their research results. We can thus prepare ourselves early on for the roadmap planning of our products. Furthermore, we use the contacts for our own image advertising, in that we use, e.g. success stories on our Website, in blogs and social media with respect to our software.
And finally, we have established a scientific committee for PTV, the PTV Scientific Advisory Board. Here the goal is somewhat different. Leading researchers in selected areas are called to serve on the committee for one or two years. There, they provide us with an overview of usage trends, research results, competitors’ activities, and the expansion potential in our software – comprehensively from logistics to traffic and primarily about topics that are not the core of our business. Here, the temporal limitation and the conscious limitation to eight members ensures regular change of people and topics. This is how we purposefully bring new blood and fresh ideas to PTV.
Compass: And who at PTV is in charge of these topics?
Klaus Nökel: We would like to advance quickly with the three formats, and after the start, remain on the ball consistently, maintain contact, organise follow-up meetings, speak to the right people. Very early on, therefore, the three usual suspects put their heads together and developed a plan from the initial idea. Guido Gentile and I are a well-practised team, for we have had four years on an EU project to practice jointly coordinating a topic-based research network. And Paulo Humanes, who has many contacts, especially in close-to-research and industrial committees, e.g. on the International Transport Forum of the OECD. Together we are working to implement the plan. The next step: In the middle of July, we will bring the Scientific Advisory Board and the Research Network together in Karlsruhe to exchange ideas and establish PTV as a fixed variable in the academic community.