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CERN strengthens its technology transfer policy

Geneva, 16 March 1999. On 10 March 1999, the Finance Committee of CERN1 adopted the policy proposed by the new Management aimed at enhancing technology transfer between CERN and industry. The three main actions taken will be: promoting adequate intellectual property protection rights for new technologies developed at CERN and in collaborating institutes, encouraging the training of young scientists in intellectual property rights and entrepreneurship, and strengthening the role of CERN's Industry and Technology Liaison Office (ITLO). These activities will be coordinated by a new Director for technology transfer.

Since its inception in 1954, CERN has been active in expertise and technology transfer mainly through purchasing contracts or collaboration agreements. The chief vector for transfers being the personnel themselves, in particular the young engineers and PhD students taken on by industry after their time spent at CERN. The quality of technologies developed by the Laboratory has been becoming more and more widely recognized. The World-Wide Web, medical imaging, or advanced techniques for using electronic chips, are just a few of the many recent spin-offs from the fundamental research done at CERN.

The strengthening of this technology transfer policy will now allow the Laboratory to better exploit its intellectual property rights while clarifying the relations it maintains with research and industry in its Member States. Patent applications will however still be limited to cases with significant market potential, where European industrialists have to defend their interests faced with globalization of the economy.

The new measures will encourage the establishment of firms in Member States by young scientists leaving the Laboratory at the end of a first employment of between 2 and 6 years, who will receive training in intellectual property rights and entrepreneurship. These activities will be arranged by the Industry and Technology Liaison Office (ITLO), set up at CERN in 1987. ITLO is strengthening its role as a focal point and facilitator for both industrialists and personnel working at CERN. The activities will be coordinated by the Director for technology transfer. A database of available technologies is now accessible to the public and industrialist can submit requests to ITLO. Links will be established by ITLO with technology parks and incubators in Member States so that those setting up firms may receive all possible help.

The new policy must not harm CERN's basic fundamental research mission. The Laboratory's task is pure science, but the tools it uses, the particle accelerators and detectors, have the effect of pushing different kinds of technology to its limits, or beyond. The spin-off is practical progress, of benefit both to industry and society.

For more information you may consult the following web pages: http://www.cern.ch/CERN/Technology/

1. CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation,the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and Unesco have observer status.