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CERN’s innovation can protect our planet: ideas and projects are welcome!


Raphaël Bello is the Director for Finance and Human Resources.

Could CERN innovation be disseminated to tackle environmental challenges on a global scale? The new CERN Innovation Programme on Environmental Applications (CIPEA) provides a framework to support this initiative.

Working at CERN, at the cutting edge of technology, we all know that the potential for innovation is huge. The technologies we develop at CERN to achieve our scientific objectives can and do have multiple applications outside the Laboratory and often address challenges faced by society.

An Organization like CERN, committed to pursuing its mission of research, innovation, training and collaboration and serving as a prime example of international collaboration since its foundation in 1954, must also strive to be a role model when it comes to environmental responsibility.

There are two main ways to play an active and responsible role in this field. The first one is direct and immediate: limiting the negative impact of the Organization’s activities on the environment and, in particular, minimising its own carbon footprint. The initiatives launched as part of CERN’s year of environmental awareness clearly go in this direction. The second one involves making a conscious effort to harness the unique skill set of the people and the technologies they develop within the Organization in order to maximise their positive impact on the environment globally. The positive return for society will probably be long term, but the potential benefits are boundless.

The CERN Innovation Programme on Environmental Applications (CIPEA) was launched in March with the objective of stimulating and coordinating these efforts. It aims to identify innovative ideas and technologies developed by CERN experts that could be used to help preserve our planet.

Several strategic domains with high potential impact and strong synergies with CERN's technical scope of expertise have been identified:

• renewable and low-carbon energy (production, transformation, distribution, storage)

• clean transportation and future mobility (aviation, shipping, rail and automotive)

• climate change and pollution control (monitoring, modelling, mitigation)

• sustainability and green science (power management, heat management, industrial processes).

Possible examples include superconducting technologies for high-efficiency power transmission, cryogenics and vacuum for advanced hydrogen storage, big data analysis tools for global-scale climate simulations and advanced algorithms for fast and low-power computing.

Could the technologies being developed by your team address major environmental challenges? Could your lab facilities be used to build solutions for a healthier and more sustainable planet? Please, let us know!

The deadline to submit proposals is 27 May. The most promising ideas will be presented to the CERN community and management during the CERN Innovation Day on Environmental Applications in June. These ideas will enjoy the support of the Knowledge Transfer group through internal instruments such as the KT Fund or the CERN Technology Impact Fund. Establishing bilateral partnerships with industrial partners and external stakeholders (e.g. through EU support or national projects) could also help take your idea further. 

For more information on how to take part, visit the dedicated webpage.