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A journey from CERN to entrepreneurship

Through CERN Venture Connect, a new programme that helps launch startups at CERN, ideas can grow to shape the future of technology


CERN Venture Connect logo

In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship, there exists a profound belief in the transformative power of collaboration. This belief holds true at CERN, where cutting-edge technologies are developed for accelerators, detectors and computing through international collaborative efforts. CERN’s unique environment fosters an atmosphere where talented individuals collaborate, ideas flourish and technologies with the potential to revolutionise the world are born.

It is within this extraordinary setting that remarkable stories have unfolded, such as that of Andrea Apollonio, former LHC hardware commissioning coordinator. While working at CERN, Andrea immersed himself in the intricate world of fault tracking, risk and reliability analysis, data management, machine learning and performance monitoring for the CERN accelerator complex. After a decade at CERN, his entrepreneurial spirit prompted him to envision the creation of a venture centred around the cutting-edge Accelerator Fault Tracker (AFT) technology developed at CERN.

Reshape.systems s.r.l. was thus born out of Andrea’s vision to leverage AI-driven risk analysis to create robust, fail-safe systems for a variety of applications. Teaming up with co-founder Thomas Cartier-Michaud, another CERN alumnus, Andrea embarked on a transformative journey to secure funding for crucial prototype development and gain access to advanced computing infrastructure and AI services.

Pivotal to this journey was the newly created CERN Venture Connect programme (CVC), launched in 2023, which aims to connect startups with the best operators in the entrepreneurial sphere – venture capitalists, corporate partners, incubators and mentors. CVC sets up streamlined and standardised licensing agreements that are optimised for fast execution with a novel deal structure – 2% royalty payable only when the startup reaches 1 MCHF in sales.

In establishing CVC, CERN’s Entrepreneurship team entered discussions with Microsoft, with the aim to better leverage the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub within the CVC programme, and, crucially, introduced Reshape.systems s.r.l. to Microsoft. The partnership between Microsoft and CVC proved to be a game-changer for Andrea’s startup that initiated a formal application into Founders Hub. By qualifying for access to the Microsoft for Startups programme, Reshape.systems is now able to access industry-leading AI services, expert guidance and the essential technology needed to build a future-proofed startup.”

“Working with Andrea to reshape fault tracking for CERN’s accelerator complex resulted in much improved operational visibility and brought high strategic value. Now, through Reshape.systems s.r.l., other organisations can also benefit from working with Andrea to boost their own value streams,” says Chris Roderick, leader of the Controls Software and Services group in the Beams department at CERN.

“Andrea Apollonio’s journey from CERN to entrepreneurship serves as a testament to the boundless possibilities that emerge when passion, expertise and the spirit of innovation converge and are supported by visionary organisations like CERN. CERN Venture Connect (CVC) is designed to nurture such ambitions, empowering the next generation of scientist entrepreneurs and shaping the future with technology,” says Ash Ravikumar from the CERN Entrepreneurship team within CERN’s Knowledge Transfer group.

If you would like to find out more about CERN Venture Connect, hear how Microsoft is supporting startups and listen to Andrea’s journey, come to the Venture Connect event at CERN on 30 October or join online via Zoom. To register, visit: https://indico.cern.ch/event/1306729/