Together with computing, detection and imaging technologies will enable future paradigms like smart cities, autonomous transport and personalised healthcare to become a reality. However, promising deep-tech ventures often struggle to reach commercialisation; the process of turning scientific breakthroughs into viable products and services is bumpy and serendipitous.
ATTRACT aims to flatten the bumps by creating an innovation ecosystem that will absorb and minimise risk, through funding and expertise. In doing so, ATTRACT is helping to ensure that breakthrough ideas in imaging, detection and computational technologies derived from scientific research are not overlooked or lost along the way; instead, they have a chance of becoming products and services that benefit society.
ATTRACT phase 1 awarded €100K to each of 170 promising projects to develop a proof-of-concept in 12 months. Now, ATTRACT phase 2 will take forward the most promising opportunities generated in phase 1, with total funding of €25M. In this phase, the emphasis will be on turning the proofs-of-concept from phase 1 into applications in science and industry, while encouraging demonstration of how the technologies can be used to address societal challenges.
“Phase 1 of ATTRACT has proven to be a powerful framework to build bridges and accelerate innovation in detection and imaging technologies and will continue to do so during phase 2”, says Sergio Bertolucci, Chair of the R&D&I Committee (IC) of ATTRACT, Professor at the University of Bologna and former CERN Scientific Director.
In addition to the R&D&I call, ATTRACT phase 2 will also upscale the “Young Innovator and Entrepreneurs” pilot from phase 1 through the Academy Call for Student Programmes. Applicants with proven experience in design thinking methodologies in the context of big research infrastructures are encouraged to form teams of MSc-level students to generate ideas for social innovation inspired by the technologies developed in the R&D&I ATTRACT projects. The interaction between researchers and students during phase 1 has already integrated students’ ideas in projects such as a wearable PET-scanning vest, a drone with olfactory capabilities for agriculture efficiency, and a gamified weather intelligence system.
“The ATTRACT adventure continues with the start of phase 2, and it is not finished. Synergy and solidarity are ever so important; “value for me” is no longer an option for a world facing societal challenges at a planetary scale”, says Michael Krisch, Chair of the Project Consortium Board and scientist at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF).
ATTRACT phase 2 also includes a call for researchers with proven experience in conducting socio-economic studies on the impact of big research infrastructures on innovation ecosystems. These studies will provide quantitative and qualitative data and insights on the ATTRACT model, helping to forecast the potential benefits of scaling it up for European science, industry, business and, ultimately, the social and economic well-being of European citizens.