HEPTech brings an entrepreneurial perspective to research

The CERN-fostered High Energy Physics Technology Transfer Network (HEPTech) brought together young researchers with entrepreneurial and technology-transfer potential at its second annual symposium, which was hosted by Inovacentrum at the Czech Technical University in Prague, on 31 May–6 June. The event was attended by 17 early stage researchers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. They had been carefully selected, in terms of both eligibility and entrepreneurial potential, from 27 applicants, by a panel of HEPTech experts.

The five-day programme addressed the needs of the young researchers as potential entrepreneurs, by introducing them to topics including issues relating to patent law and intellectual property protection, how and where to find help when starting a new business, what ideas work best for incubation, how to promote and market their research results, and how to attract an investor. Best practice on successful start-ups and products was presented, such as the story of the creation and growth of the Raspberry Pi (an affordable, credit-card-sized computer for educational purposes), and the lessons young entrepreneurs could learn from it. The participants were also introduced to the infrastructure and market potential of the Extreme Light Infrastructure facility hosted by the Institute of Physics at the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The topics were presented by commercially experienced professionals and technology-transfer experts, such as Markus Nordberg of CERN, who spoke about the use of cross-disciplinary teams in creating ideas for new products, and Stephen Blake, a European patent attorney who ran a practical workshop discussing the best intellectual-property protection for a particular case. Jean-Marie Le Goff of CERN, and HEPTech chair, addressed the multi-faceted relationships between research, innovation and industry. He discussed the context of these relationships and explored possible routes for setting up R&D collaborations with industry.

An expert team on innovative product design inspired the young researchers, and made them realize that they were creative and could come up with practical applications for their technology. In one day, the participants went through the main phases of the process of converting research results into a marketable product. All of the experts acknowledged the mutual benefits of networking with young researchers and declared their intention to continue communications with them.

On the last day of the symposium, the participants learnt the lesson that finding the right investor was like finding a life partner and were introduced to the top 10 steps for attracting investors. They gave three-minute pitches on their technologies, and received recommendations for marketing and commercialization from two business investors.

Two special awards provided by the Raspberry Pi Foundation were given for the project that attracted the investors’ attention and for the participant who had progressed the most over the week. The first went to Florina Tuluca of the Institute of Geodynamics of the Romanian Academy, Bucharest, for her prototype of a soil-pollution testing device, thus giving her confidence in the market potential of her research. The second award went to Lyubomir Stoyanov of the Faculty of Physics, Sofia University, who, in one week, managed to move physics out of the lab and onto the market.

The overall opinion of the participants was that they had attended a meeting with a unique format, which introduced them to knowledge they had never accessed before, provoked their creativity and gave them a different perspective on research. They described their experience as "life changing" and a "brilliant combination between theory and practice".

• HEPTech organizes many events (CERN Courier April 2015 p17). Coming soon are: September 2015, Bulgaria: Workshop on Marketing of Science and Technology (Follow-Up); October 2015, Romania: AIME on ELI-NP and High Energy Laser Applications; November 2015, Italy: Best Practice in Technology Transfer.


Romanian firms visit CERN

The Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in partnership with the Horia Hulubei National Institute for R&D in Physics and Nuclear Engineering, and with the collaboration of the Association of Exporters and Importers of Romania, organized the first economic mission of Romanian firms to CERN on 19–21 May. The event, attended by participants from 13 Romanian companies, was inaugurated in a ceremony in the Council Chamber by Maria Ciobanu, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary permanent representative of Romania to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva. On the following two days, the participants were able to learn about procurement at CERN, meet with technical experts and visit points of interest at the laboratory.


Visits

The Lithuanian minister of health, Rimantė Šalaševičiu, here with the director-general Rolf Heuer, came to CERN on 20 May. Her visit included meetings with scientists involved in medical applications at CERN and the CERN MEDICIS facility (CERN Courier November 2013 p37).

On 2 June, Petr Drulák, left, the Czech Republic’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, was welcomed to CERN by Rüdiger Voss, head of international relations. The minister went on to see the Synchrocyclotron exhibition and the ATLAS visitor centre.