3 reasons why CERN Technology could accelerate your start-up to success
07 Jul 2020






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Blog from Delyth Edwards

Nestled within the shadows of the Alps and spanning across two countries, lies the world’s leading centre of physics and engineering, CERN. As the birthplace of the World Wide Web and home to the Large Hadron Collider, a 27km particle accelerator used to solve some of the key mysteries of our universe, it operates some of the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments.​

Whilst many of us have heard about the incredible fundamental research carried out at CERN, what can be harder to grasp is the application of this understanding into the ‘real world’.

As a Business Development Manager, I’m biased in turning my thoughts to the innovation capacity of these technologies and how they could be translated to industry, it is possible to link Accelerators to Aerospace? Or the Higgs Boson and Healthcare?

So with that, here’s just a few reasons why I think you should consider high energy physics technologies in your business idea.​

1)     It’s unique technology and IP at the forefront of human understanding

In order to study the questions of fundamental particle physics that have puzzled scientists for hundreds of years, the technologies used for experiments also need to push the boundaries of human inventiveness and expertise, from the micro scale to the macro.

Components and machines developed for particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) lead the way globally, delivering an unprecedented level of precision and reliability in an incredibly extreme environment. Engineering expertise is used to develop magnets within the LHC which are cooled to -271.3°C, a temperature colder than outer space, or to create and maintain a computing infrastructure that processes, analyses and archives on average one petabyte (one million gigabytes) of data from experiments every day.

This technology and know-how offers a wealth of opportunities to impact global industries and accelerate innovation. Just think, what could you do with a slice of this?

2)     The range of technologies is vast and has many applications

CERN's expertise builds broadly on three technical fields: accelerators, detectors and computing. Behind these three pillars of technology, lies a number of areas of expertise: from cryogenics to ultra-high vacuums, from particle tracking and radiation monitoring to superconductivity and many more. These technologies, and the human expertise associated with them, can translate into positive impact in many different fields. Key successes have been in medical technologies, aerospace, environment and Industry 4.0, as well as novel emerging technologies. Start-up A2O Innovation solutions is using CERN’s expertise in high reliability electronics and design, to assist with the development of its CHASM system, which will enable cost-effective predictive maintenance for advanced composite materials in autonomous cars. In contrast, CERN spin-out Advanced Oncotherapy is in the process of developing what is expected to be the first commercially available linear proton accelerator for the treatment of cancer.

3)     You can get funding, technical and business support for your idea

The unique challenges entrepreneurs face in developing a business idea or new technology are complex, and can quickly become barriers to growth. Incubators have gained traction over recent years, and are recognised for the dedicated support they offer to early stage companies with an ambition to grow. More than 200 business incubator programmes currently exist in the UK, with the majority focusing on science and technology.

CERN is no exception. The STFC CERN Business Incubation Centre supports entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow from technical concept to reality, and take CERN technologies and expertise to market. The programme combines the incubation experience of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), with the unique opportunity to access STFC and CERN intellectual property (IP), technologies and expertise for tangible commercial and societal impact. Incubatees also gain:

  • £40,000
  • 80 hours scientific & technical expertise (CERN & STFC)
  • Access to CERN & STFC IP
  • Extensive business support package

Hopefully this has convinced you that fundamental particle physics is just that; fundamental. Fundamental to our understanding of the world, the universe and life itself, but also to the next generation of technologies and our future – maybe your idea could be the next World Wide Web? If not, I’m sure it will have an impact!

The next deadline to submit an expression of interest for the STFC CERN Business Incubation Centre is 31st July. Businesses can apply to be located at any STFC campus, including Sci-Tech Daresbury, Harwell Campus and the Higgs Centre for Innovation, Edinburgh.