Small UK companies will be turning ground-breaking CERN research into real-world technological applications, through a new collaboration between the European research laboratory and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council [STFC]. The scheme aims to help nurture up-and-coming businesses, bridging the gap between science and industry.
“Small companies with a real mission to innovate will benefit from this initiative by CERN and STFC, which brings together some of the most advanced technologies in the world with the unique and focused business support required to take new ideas to market successfully,” said John Womersley, STFC Chief Executive.
The collaboration will see five companies each year working with CERN’s technology and expertise, supported by up to £40,000 in funding and 40 hours of free technical support and facilities access from the STFC. Based at the new CERN-STFC Business Incubation Centre [CERN BIC] in the STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, the centre will provide access to many resources that would otherwise be financially inaccessible to smaller businesses: such as as accelerator technologies, an International Centre of Excellence in Computational Science and Engineering and the Innovations Technology Access Centre – which contains over £3 million worth of specialised laboratory equipment.
The CERN BIC, which will launch later this year, will be focussed on such fields as accelerators, detectors, cryogenics, magnets, materials science, superconductors and high performance computing. This initiative will be a first for CERN, and may set the template for similar projects across Europe.
“CERN is committed to maximising the benefit to society of CERN technology through the development and exploitation of innovative ideas,” said CERN’s Director of Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers. “Our technologies are already available through schemes ranging from R&D partnerships to licences and consultancy. The CERN BIC provides a new route to market, and I hope it will be the first of many in our Member States.”
This collaboration is not the first of its kind. The STFC previously established a similar initiative, in tandem with the European Space Agency, based out of the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. Merely one year old, this incubation centre is already home to 10 high-tech companies which are generating profitable business out of European space technologies.
The STFC, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is one of seven publicly-funded research councils in the UK. It has a long-running relationship with CERN, and funds all of the UK’s activities within the international research centre.