Interview with new Senior Director of Eriksholm, James M. Harte
James, you have been Senior Director at Eriksholm Research Centre since January 1st, 2020. What is your professional background?
My journey into hearing science began with my PhD, obtained from the University of Southampton in the UK, where we tried to understand a little better how the complex structures and processes of the inner ear (cochlea) impact our sense of hearing. As part of my PhD, I was lucky enough to be involved in an exchange program that brought me to the Technical University of Denmark in 2004. The timing was perfect as a new research center has just been established, led by a young German professor, Torsten Dau, who was looking for junior faculty members. I ended up working for 6 years with Torsten as an assistant and then associate professor in physiological acoustics and technical audiology. During this time, I also had the good fortune to meet and collaborate with Claus Elberling – previous director of Eriksholm Research Centre and senior scientist specializing in evoked responses.
After a brief period working back in the UK, at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, University of Warwick, I was approached by Claus Elberling who asked me to return to DK to help establish a new industrial research group for the diagnostic company Interacoustics. This was simply too exciting an opportunity for me to refuse. So in 2013, I began leading the Interacoustics Research Unit (IRU), where I was able to continue research at the Technical University of Denmark where we were located, but as a part of a world leading diagnostics company with a focus on ensuring new product lines contained the cutting edge of diagnostic audiology.
What let you to join Eriksholm Research Center?
During the 6.5 years at IRU, I worked of course hand in hand with Interacoustics as well as the broader Demant family of companies including Oticon, Oticon Medical and Eriksholm. I was involved in the Eriksholm scientific advisory board, where we were tasked with providing feedback about emerging research trends relevant for the hearing healthcare industry.
Over the years, my interests have grown also more into leading scientific teams and looking at how relatively independent industrial research groups such as Eriksholm best bridge the worlds of academia/healthcare to a globally leading hearing health company. Eriksholm Research Centre has essentially two roles, one is externally facing to universities and hospitals / clinics where we interact via our science. The second is internally facing, where we help to translate the more basic research findings to innovation and new technologies that can be developed by the company into the product line. Taking an idea from research to successful innovation in a commercial product is often a complex and difficult journey, with many good ideas failing to make it. Therefore, I find this interface between academia and Demant to be an exceptionally rewarding and interesting space to work in.
In January 2020, an opportunity arose to lead Eriksholm in addition to IRU. This seemed a very natural progression for me for the reasons described above, as well as a truly exciting opportunity to work with some fantastic world leading scientists and colleagues.