CERN’s ownership of IP makes it possible to share its knowledge with industry under mutually agreed conditions by means of a contract.
For example, these conditions prohibit use of CERN technology for military applications, a principle which is anchored in the CERN Convention. A mere publication of a technology cannot prohibit such use, but a contract can. Contracts are the first step to formalise a collaboration to realise innovative products and services by industry for society. They include licences (CERN granting use of its technology under predetermined conditions), service and consultancy (CERN committing to contribute with time and expertise to its contractual partner) or R&D collaborations (CERN and its partner mutually committing time and expertise to a common project).
The path from CERN knowledge to impact requires on one hand a continuous scouting for unique expertise within the Organization, and on the other hand a promotion effort to industry to draw attention to new opportunities for developing innovations for society. In 2016, CERN’s scientists and engineers brought 91 new technologies to the attention of CERN’s Knowledge Transfer group. This included a variety of software, electronics, detector and accelerator component designs at various degrees of technology readiness. They ranged from pure idea and lab prototype, which can grow into a mature technology through a mechanism like the CERN Knowledge Transfer Fund, to fully operational solutions.