From the upgrade of accelerator components to the support of new applications for CERN’s technologies that go beyond particle physics, the CERN Knowledge Transfer Fund has sponsored 49 innovative projects with high potential for positive impact in society. With the fund aiming to bridge the gap between research and industry, projects are selected through a highly competitive process based on five different aspects: quality of the proposal, probability of dissemination, potential for impact, scientific/technical value and potential to generate revenue. In order to be considered, a project should be based on CERN technology, it should have the approval of the Head of Department, and the Department should cover the cost of staff members who apply for funding. Moreover, the Intellectual Property required to execute the project should be owned or co-owned by CERN.
The CERN Knowledge Transfer Fund was established in 2011 and is maintained by revenue from commercial agreements concluded by the Knowledge Transfer group at CERN. Since 2011, it has been supporting 49 projects lasting from one to four years. Grants can be used to fund material or students and fellows related to the project. Selection boards take place twice per year: project proposals are evaluated by a Selection Committee composed of CERN's heads of department, as well as members of the Knowledge Transfer group. The next deadline for application is 16 March 2020. Read more about the application and selection process at kt.cern/selection-process.
Two KT-funded projects stand out as examples of the fund’s significance. The first, named MACHINA (Movable Accelerator for Cultural Heritage In-situ Non-destructive Analysis), will help experts worldwide ensure that priceless pieces of art and history are around for generations to come. MACHINA allowed the construction of a high-precision and small-size Radio Frequency Quadrupole (RFQ) accelerator (approximately two metres long and weighing 300 kg), which relies on the proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) technique. This portable accelerator can be transported to large immovable artworks or works that cannot be transported due to their fragile preservation conditions, opening up new possibilities for the analysis of fine art and cultural artefacts.
The second project is carried out by the Electrical Power Converters group at CERN, which has been developing compatibility software to allow its specialised control computers called Function Generator/Controllers (FGCs) to be integrated into the more commonly used controls frameworks TANGO and EPICS. Although FGCs were originally developed to specifically work within the CERN accelerator control software, it is now possible to deploy them in other accelerator facilities. Due to its potential for technology transfer, the project was one of five selected in 2019 for support from the CERN Knowledge Transfer Fund. In 2020, eleven control modules of commercial power converters, installed at the synchrotron SOLEIL (Paris, France), will be replaced by FGCs.
Further information on the CERN Knowledge Transfer Fund can be found at kt.cern/funding/kt-fund.