Q: Can you please explain what a Nikon Centre of Excellence is?
A: There are many research institutes which focus on a specific area of research. They attract young scientists in these areas and carry out cutting edge research; however these scientists may not always have the resources or funding for more advanced imaging equipment. A Nikon Centre of Excellence (NCE) is a partnership and exchange of knowledge with specific research centres which undertake to make an overall investment in a small number of Nikon advanced imaging instruments in its facility, thus giving young researchers access to the latest optical systems so they can advance their research and their exposure in the field. The institute gains in terms of access to high-end research microscopes at a favourable rate and Nikon technical knowledge, and Nikon gains not only a showcase for its products, but also invaluable feedback and input from these up and coming researchers, learning about new emerging applications and science in specific research areas to be able to provide the perfect imaging solution. The benefits to the researcher and Nikon, therefore, go hand in hand.
Q: What else does a Nikon Centre of Excellence offer?
A: In addition to providing access to state-of-the-art Nikon microscopy and imaging equipment, the NCEs support their scientific community by offering training courses on basic and advanced light microscopy techniques and introducing the latest innovations in light microscopy and imaging. The centres act as a training location for Nikon staff, further enhancing our technical and product knowledge, ensuring our customers are given the best customer service possible. Nikon can also offer the centre as a demonstration site for customers with needs and interest in advanced optical technology.
Q: How does each Nikon Centre of Excellence differ?
A: Each NCE has a specialty that will help advance a specific area of microscopy. The NCE at the IEM in Budapest, for example, is a key neuroscience research centre. The NCE at ICFO in Barcelona, specialises in STORM super-resolution microscopy, while at the University of Amsterdam’s NCE, they are working on new and other types of super-resolution microscopy development. Over the next year, Nikon is planning on opening a NCE at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm focusing on high content screening research which will feature Nikon’s new software module, JOBS; a NCE at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Genoa focusing on the application of microscopy in the understanding of molecular activities underlying oncology and neurodegenerative diseases; and further NCEs will follow over the next couple of years.
Q: How do the Nikon Centres of Excellence align with the Nikon Imaging Centres?
A: We definitely see NCEs as being complementary to Nikon Imaging Centres (NICs).
NICs are a global network of selected centres based in core countries: the US, Japan, Singapore, Germany, France and the UK. They are located in major research institutions, which provide comprehensive, purpose-built laboratory facilities on a larger scale in exchange for showcasing a wide variety of Nikon’s advanced imaging systems to facilitate collaboration and application knowledge transfer. The level of investment between Nikon and the institution varies between NICs. The NICs are open to a broad range of scientific disciplines in order to expose as many different areas of science as possible to the techniques available on Nikon equipment. With modern science, researchers may need to undertake different imaging techniques and with limited access to the appropriate equipment, this could be a difficult task. Within an NIC, researchers have access to different imaging systems, providing them with the appropriate imaging technique. There is also a NIC manager who runs the centre, trains new users and provides the liaison with Nikon. This has translated to an incredible number of publications across many disciplines. In addition, NICs provide feedback straight to Nikon’s designers to help shape new technology to suit research demands.
Q: Can any research institute apply to become a Nikon Centre of Excellence?
A: Yes – we obviously have certain criteria that apply, however we would encourage any interested specialised research institute that utilises advanced imaging techniques to contact us for further discussion.
In the future, Nikon would like to have a comprehensive global network of NICs and NCEs that can exchange ideas and further advance microscopy techniques. Personally, I hope that both NICs and NCEs will become places that researchers would like to be associated with and carry out their valuable scientific work!