CERN launches Technology Impact Fund to address global challenges


Knowledge Transfer Applications Infographics
The applications of CERN technologies extend beyond high-energy physics to a vast range of areas such as aerospace, medical & biomedical, industry 4.0, cultural heritage, safety and towards a better planet.
(Image: CERN)

CERN is launching a new Technology Impact Fund to bridge the gap between the technology developed for research at CERN and its potential applications to address societal challenges. The Fund was launched with support from CERN’s Knowledge Transfer group and the CERN & Society Foundation, which is actively seeking external donors.

Financial support provided via the CERN Technology Impact Fund will enable CERN technologies to be adapted for use in wider society, with a particular focus on potential contributions to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all United Nations Member States.

“The CERN Technology Impact Fund has the ambition to increase CERN’s contribution to the common good,” says Olivier Coutau, Delegate representing the Geneva Canton to International Geneva and member of the CERN & Society Foundation Board. “It is particularly appropriate to launch this initiative in Geneva, where most of the international organisations in charge of building a better world are based.”

CERN personnel will be able to propose innovative CERN technologies with high potential to create societal impact. Thanks to funds sought through the CERN & Society Foundation, these technologies will be actively developed to the level of maturity needed for their proposed application in areas beyond particle physics. The projects will, whenever possible, take place in partnership with external organisations in academia, the public sector and industry to maximise the chances of a successful technology transfer to society.

The first technology selected under the Fund is the Compact Precision Laser Inclinometer (CPLI), originally developed by CERN and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), Russia, to measure the ground movements around CERN’s ATLAS detector. This novel solution could serve as a lower-cost and more precise alternative to existing earthquake detection devices. Every year millions of lives are at risk of being devastated by earthquakes, disproportionately affecting already vulnerable communities. While existing seismic monitoring solutions rely on a network of expensive devices to provide early-warning information, the CPLI measures fluctuations of the local gravity field. Its high precision means it has potential also to provide early warning for other natural disasters, such as landslides and rapid glacial melt.

The CPLI would contribute to three SDGs in practice: making cities and human settlements safer (SDG 11), helping to reduce poverty (SDG 1), and helping to combat the impact of climate change (SDG 13).

“The CERN Technology Impact Fund is an exciting new initiative. Supporting technological solutions that target some of the most difficult challenges facing our world will ensure that society will benefit further from the innovation taking place at CERN,” explains Amy Bilton, a CERN Knowledge Transfer Officer.

About the CERN & Society Foundation

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