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Our collaboration with US National Institute of Standards and Technology

About NIST
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a US governmental agency acting “to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life” (NIST, 2017). With an annual budget of over 900 Mio. USD dedicated to research, the institute focusses on improving measurements and standards to foster innovation and guarantee interoperability between existing and new technologies.  The activities support all types of technologies, from the smart electric power grid and electronic health record to atomic clocks, advanced nanomaterials, and computer chips, being beneficial and impactful in a multitude of fields.

Back in February, during a trip in the US, the Head of the Center for Business in the Americas (CBA), Peter Qvist-Sorensen, had the unique opportunity to personally meet Dr. Chris Greer, the Director of the Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office and National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability at NIST.

About Dr. Chris Greer
Dr. Chris Greer comes from an unconventional background with a Ph.D. in biochemistry. By 35, he was already a tenured professor at the University of California in Irvine and has been headhunted by the US Federal Government shortly after. Before NIST, he has worked for 4,5 years as the White House Advisor in the fields of IT & Cybersecurity under the President Bush and President Obama administrations. Now as Director at NIST, he covers the main areas of Smart Cities, Smart Grids, IoT, Cyber-Physical Systems and Cyber-Security.

It has been rapidly visible that NIST deals with two topics that match CBA’s core competencies: IIoT and US Industrial Competitiveness. During the meeting in Washington, an initial interest in a Swiss-US cooperation from both parties was expressed. The dialogue proceeded after the visit and resulted in the Center for Business in the Americas having the privilege to welcoming Dr. Greer in Switzerland for two days.

Dr. Chris Greer in Switzerland
The first day was dedicated to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), where a roundtable was organized with important Swiss players in Dr. Greer’s areas of competence: Smart Cities, Smart Grids, IoT, Cyber-Physical Systems and Cyber-Security. The participants included five high-ranking SFOE officials, including the director Mr.Benoit Revaz, but also individuals representing IBM, Empa, Swissgrid, the City of Zurich, ETH and ZHAW (both Schools of Management and Law and Engineering). Intriguing discussions were initiated, where many insights were generated and are now to be followed-up on.

During the second day of his visit, Dr. Chris Greer devoted his time to present some of the NIST’s current projects and join a dynamic podium discussion at ZHAW School of Engineering.  The other podium discussion participants constituted of five ZHAW members, each representing their specialized field of research. The event generated interesting conversations and more room for further interdisciplinary collaborations.

Presently, CBA and NIST are pursuing a number of potential areas of collaboration, which we hope to cover in the next Newsletter publication.