In order to clarify CERN’s support of companies established to exploit CERN technologies (spin-off companies), the Organization has adopted a “CERN Spin-off Policy” in August 2018. The CERN Spin-off Policy sets out the scope and details of CERN’s support to spin-off companies, as well as the KT Group’s role, and summarises how CERN personnel can join, establish or be involved in a spin-off company, start-up or other commercial activity.

The official document for the CERN Spin-off Policy can be found here.

What can spin-off companies expect from CERN?

CERN’s support is on a time-limited basis, since spin-off companies are expected to become self-sustaining within a reasonable period. In the meantime, spin-off companies might expect support from CERN in terms of:

Facilities

Although a spin-off company cannot be established on the CERN site, or use CERN as an official address or venue for conducting commercial activities, it may be granted access to facilities and equipment, always subject to the availability of CERN resources, in order to:

  • Carry out further research, development and testing,
  • Receive the necessary know-how to transfer technologies effectively.

Branding

CERN also provides access to CERN labels. Use of CERN labels by spin-off companies must follow the label terms of use and guidelines and is subject to prior approval from CERN.

Where a dedicated licence agreement is not required to access a technology (for instance in the case of open source software), an agreement may still be required to define conditions of use of the CERN name and labels – as well as possible technical support, know-how transfer, and reporting on how the technology is creating an impact.

How can the KT Group help?

Primarily, CERN’s Knowledge Transfer (KT) Group advises the parties interested in setting up a spin-off company, considering the framework in place.

Since CERN provides access to its network of incubators and entrepreneur-minded individuals, the KT Group is also the point of contact to the network of Business Incubation Centres (BICs) for the spin-off companies. The network aims at supporting the creation and development of companies in technical fields related to CERN’s areas of expertise.

What are the implications of the CERN Spin-off Policy for CERN personnel who wish to create a spin-off?

CERN personnel founding or working with spin-off companies must comply with the applicable internal and external legal frameworks. In particular, CERN personnel must ensure that their spin-off activity does not give rise to any potential or perceived conflict of interest.

Leave of Absence

The CERN spin-off policy summarises how members of personnel may request a leave of absence from CERN, either on a full-time or part-time basis, to work for a spin-off company. They might also reduce their working hours. It also introduces a new leave scheme for MPEs in the final months of employment with CERN, whereby they may request authorisation for special leave to establish or join a spin-off company.  

For more details, please refer to the CERN Spin-off Policy.

You should also consult CERN’s HR Department or your organisation’s, depending on your status at CERN.

Disclosure

For spin-off companies in particular, CERN personnel (MPEs and MPAs) are required to disclose to the KT Group any equity or other interest they hold in a spin-off company, as well as any financial or other form of compensation they receive from that source.

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