Europe calls for advanced detector and imaging ideas

The European Union (EU) has committed €17 million to help bring a total of 170 breakthrough detection and imaging ideas to market. Led by CERN and funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the ATTRACT initiative involves several other European research infrastructures and institutes: the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Southern Observatory, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, European XFEL, Institut Laue-Langevin, Aalto University, the European Industrial Research Management Association (EIRMA) and ESADE. It will focus on the development of new radiation sensor and imaging technologies both for scientific purposes and to address broader challenges in the domains of health, sustainable materials and information, and communication technologies.

Markus Nordberg of the CERN-IPT development and innovation unit laid the foundations for ATTRACT back in 2013, observing then how detector developers found it difficult to find suitable programmes to facilitate the wider use of generic detector R&D. “The detector R&D community, for example regarding the LHC upgrades and beyond, has ideas of the potential suitability of its technologies in other fields, but limited contacts, mechanisms or resources available to follow these ideas further or to make a case,” he says. “ATTRACT builds upon the collaborative spirit of open science and co-innovation, where the experience and available infrastructure at laboratories such as CERN could turn out to be useful.”

The ATTRACT seed fund (www.attract-eu.com) is open to researchers and entrepreneurs from organisations all over Europe. The call for proposals for CERN users and other outside laboratories working on detection and imaging technologies will close on 31 October, and the successful proposals will be announced in early 2019. The 170 projects funded by ATTRACT will have one year to develop their ideas, during which business and innovation experts from Aalto University, EIRMA and ESADE Business School will help project teams transform their technology into products, services, companies and jobs.