Europe seed-funds 170 technologies

10 July 2019

An event held at CERN on 20–21 May revealed 170 projects that have been granted €100,000 of European Union (EU) funding to develop disruptive detection and imaging technologies. The successful projects, drawn from more than 1200 proposals from researchers in scientific and industrial organisations across the world, now have one year to prove the scientific merit and innovation potential of their ideas.

The 170 funded projects are part of the Horizon 2020 ATTRACT project funded by the EU and a consortium of nine partners, including CERN, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), European XFEL and Institut Laue-Langevin. The successful projects are grouped into four broad categories: data acquisition systems and computing; front-end and back-end electronics; sensors; and software and integration.

CERN researchers are involved in 19 of the projects, in areas from magnets and cryogenics to electronics and informatics. Several of the selected projects involve the design of sensors or signal-transmission systems that operate at very low temperatures or in the presence of radiation, and many target applications in medical imaging and treatment or in the aerospace sector. Others seek industrial applications, such as 3D printing of systems equipped with sensors, the inspection of operating cryostats or applications in environmental monitoring.

ESO’s astronomical technology and expertise will be applied to an imaging spectrograph suitable for clinical cancer studies and to single-photon visible-light imagers for adaptive optics systems and low-light-level spectroscopic and imaging applications. Among other projects connected with Europe’s major research infrastructures, four projects at the ESRF concern adaptive algebraic speckle tomography for clinical studies of osteoarticular diseases, a novel readout concept for 2D pixelated detectors, the transferral of indium-gallium-nitride epilayers onto substrates for full-spectrum LEDs, and artificial intelligence for the automatic segmentation of volumetric microtomography images.

“170 breakthrough ideas were selected based on a combination of scientific merit, innovation readiness and potential societal impact,” explained Sergio Bertolucci, chair of ATTRACT’s independent research, development and innovation committee. “The idea is to speed up the process of developing breakthrough technologies and applying them to address society’s key challenges.”

The outcomes of the ATTRACT seed-funding will be presented in Brussels in autumn 2020, and the most promising projects will receive further funding.

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