Women power inventors at Fraunhofer IIS: Senior Engineer Sylvia Couronné – EU-level project manager

Mini-Series: Power-Inventors | 18.04.2023

30 years at Fraunhofer IIS. What can you tell us about your time here so far?

I've been through many stages of development: from collaborating on projects to managing national and international projects and coordinating major EU projects. One of my main tasks is acquiring new projects as part of grant programs on the regional, national, and EU level.

I also completed a continued professional education program in research management that focused on the topics of how to promote scientific innovations and intellectual property management, which was mainly patents. Patents are an instrument for assigning value to ideas and solutions, and that is particularly exciting in my line of work.

What motivated you to pursue this path? 

I was actually interested in space research. I've always wanted to go into space. And in kind of a roundabout way, for example though RF technology, I got involved in the field of satellite navigation. I was fascinated by the idea of conducting research in space. I also wanted to be an astronaut. But when I learned what conditions were like up there 30 thirty years ago, I thought it was probably better that I pursued a career in electrical engineering instead.

What patents have you submitted, and which are you particularly proud of? 

Around the turn of the millennium, satellite navigation, positioning, and localization systems, including indoor systems, were major fields of interest. And I was involved in five patents. I even followed one of those patents throughout the entire process – from the application until it was issued. That was a basic patent for RedFIR technology – real-time evaluation of live analyses – that we had been developing and promoting for over 20 years. We won the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for that technology in 2019.

Writing patents was new territory for me at first – and it was a challenge, particularly when it came to the language. The language of patents is not exactly part of your everyday vernacular. When you're writing an invention disclosure report, you learn to craft the initial description so that you can refer back to it in the arguments you make later on. Careful patent research is one of the basic prerequisites for this kind of work. It's extremely important to formulate the claims precisely, so that they can be interpreted as broadly as possible in the field.

What aspects of your work are you passionate about?

Acquiring and developing new projects. Take the following scenario, for example: We have a certain technology. To continue to develop it, we need a project, financing, and grants. How do we want to further develop this technology? Which partners and applications could be a good fit for it? Considering all these parameters and then taking the initiative, calling up partners, applying for grant programs, contacting project partners – all while looking at how we can continue to take this technology in certain directions, validating market demands, and assessing whether further inventions and patents may be on the horizon.

What advice would you give young women trying to decide what to study?

If you've got the interest and the motivation, don't let yourself get bogged down by what society might think. Just do it. I think that's my final word on the subject: Go for it!

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