CERN has awarded funding to six new projects with the aim to bridge the gap between technology and society. Over 600,000 CHF (€542, 766) of capital was granted through its competitive Knowledge Transfer Fund (KT Fund). The fund is issued as part of CERN’s goal to maximize its overall impact on society.
The selected projects cover new applications for CERN technology in a broad range of fields beyond high-energy physics, ranging from cancer diagnostics and aerospace applications, to next-generation cloud computing, radiation safety, and digital preservation. The technologies were developed at CERN as part of the variety of high-energy physics needs, and arise from several research departments: Engineering, Information Technology, Beams and Experimental Physics.
Since the fund’s creation in 2011, 38 projects have been funded, each project receiving grants between 15-240 kCHF in value over one or several years.
One of the projects can be used for non-invasive Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans, which can help for early diagnostics of cancer in patients, and was funded by the Medical Applications section. “The technology readiness level is often in the early stages compared to industry standards,” said Manuela Cirilli, section leader of Medical Applications at CERN. Cirilli started working at CERN as a physicist and then became passionate about how CERN detector and accelerator technology could be used to solve societal challenges through medical applications. “The KT Fund ensures increased marketability of CERN technology so it has a better chance to be useful to society as soon as possible,” Cirilli adds.
In addition to increased marketability, the KT Fund aims to grow its public-private cooperation as a tested way to accelerate the innovation process. Relevant industrial companies, hospitals, external universities, startups and sometimes spin-offs are involved in the technological development financed by the KT Fund. The partnerships are set up internationally and are a true testimony to CERN’s international nature.
The development of human capital is also central to the KT Fund activities. The grants contribute to material and equipment costs, but also mean CERN teams can hire associate members, technical students or PhD students to contribute to R&D activities. These new contributors gain knowledge related to product industrialization and project management, and leave CERN with direct links with industry. This helps them develop their careers, and contributes to the dissemination of CERN’s knowledge towards industry.
CERN’s Knowledge Transfer process focuses on maximizing impact rather than profit, so part of the revenue generated by other Knowledge Transfer activities is directly re-invested into the KT Fund.
CERN members working on new technology or knowledge that is potentially transferable can contact the Knowledge Transfer Group. The KT Fund encourages CERN researchers, engineers or technicians interested in applying for the next KT Fund call to contact their INET coordinator or the Knowledge Transfer group as early as possible to discuss opportunities.