Intellectual Property as a key driver for innovation and creativity in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals


World IP Day

CERN’s machine-learning algorithms help rethink the way we predict the weather, supporting efforts under Sustainable Development Goal 13 to limit and adapt to climate change.

This year’s World Intellectual Property (IP) day explores how intellectual property fosters innovation and creativity, and its pivotal role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to shape our collective future.

At CERN, the pursuit of knowledge in particle physics and related technological developments continuously drive innovation, and IP is essential not only for protecting but also for disseminating the Organization's innovations, discoveries, and technologies.

In general, IP refers to creations of the mind in any form, such as literary and artistic works, designs, inventions, symbols, names and images, and it can be protected by different means, such as copyright for software, publications and other original creations, patents for inventions, trademarks for branding, registered designs for the aesthetic and ornamental aspects of an object and secrecy as regards trade secrets or know how. Much like physical assets—such as machinery or buildings—IP is a valuable asset that should be adequately managed and protected. It gives creators control over how their work is shared and used.

The objective of CERN’s IP strategy is to maximise the dissemination of CERN’s technologies by combining open science principles, whereby technologies such as software and hardware can be made publicly available under open-source licenses, with tailored selection of proprietary IP tools, such as patents, often in case of necessity to secure investments for the further development and dissemination of a given technology.

Moreover, intellectual property rights, including the ones of CERN, are integral to achieving SDGs, in particular as regards:

  • Goal 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: through its knowledge transfer agreements with external stakeholders, including industry, start-ups, academia, and government organisations, CERN contributes to the enhancement of scientific research and upgrade of the technological capabilities of industrial sectors. Additionally, academic institutions as CERN often possess state-of-the-art research facilities and resources that industry can leverage on, thus saving on significant capital investments.
  • Goal 3 - Good Health and Well-being: IP rights play a crucial role in promoting access to medicines and healthcare innovations, as they incentivise investment in research and development of new medical treatments, ultimately advancing healthcare outcomes. Applications of CERN technologies and know-how to the health domain represent one of the most relevant knowledge transfer opportunities in terms of potential impact on society. Recent examples include improved radiation therapy to treat cancers, and enhanced stroke patient care via AI algorithms.
  • Goal 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy and Goal 13 - Climate Action: IP can support efforts to address climate change by incentivising the development and deployment of technologies that help minimise environmental impact . IP rights promote innovation in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage, contributing to mitigation and adaptation efforts. Innovations in energy efficiency, superconductivity, and machine learning are examples of areas where CERN's IP contributes to sustainability efforts.
  • Goal 4 - Quality Education: CERN's educational outreach programs and training initiatives contribute to building capacity and expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. By empowering individuals and institutions with knowledge and skills, CERN supports sustainable development efforts and promotes scientific literacy and innovation. 

For more insights into CERN’s knowledge transfer efforts, please explore CERN’s Knowledge Transfer 2023 Highlights. IP initiatives are integral to each project featured.