Big Science organisations are centres with multi-billion budgets. They allocate them to finance everyday activities as well as investments related to innovation. The possibilities of cooperation with such centres are open to companies from various industries operating on different scales – they can be both innovative start-ups and companies from the SME sector. They can establish cooperation with CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.
Rules of cooperation with CERN
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research has its own procedures concerning public procurement. Their purpose is to ensure the transparency and impartiality of tender proceedings. The institution manages its budget to make sure the number and value of expenses for the purchase of necessary products and services is balanced between member countries, which pay annual contributions. This is to ensure that the funds and evenly returned to the member countries’ economies. The degree at which the return is balanced is monitored annually in two categories – delivery of supplies and provision of services. If the return is not sufficiently high for any of the member countries, the country gets included in the group of poorly or very poorly balanced countries. Companies operating in these countries, at least until a new rating is published, may take part in CERN tenders on preferential terms. Striving to balance the level of expenses, the organisation will give them priority of choice before bidders from well balanced countries (provided, obviously, that they meet other tender requirements).
R&D cooperation, licences and CERN services
CERN cooperates with various types of companies also in the field of research and development projects. These can be developed on the basis of cooperation involving the sharing of resources and technologies between companies and CERN in areas of specialisation such as superconductivity, ultra high vacuum, detectors or ICT. CERN also licenses its commercial and academic partners to use its technologies. It also provides specialist technology and consulting services. CERN’s tender requests are published on a dedicated platform.
As part of its knowledge-transfer mission, CERN encourages and supports the creation of companies that seek to build on its technologies and thus make CERN’s technological research available to society. In order to clarify how the Organization supports companies established to use CERN technologies (spin-off companies), CERN adopted the CERN Spin-off Policy in August 2018.
The main principles of the CERN Spin-off Policy are:
- CERN promotes and supports the creation of spin-off companies, which will seek to use and bring to use the Organisation by granting:
(a) access to CERN technology, technical support, equipment and infrastructure on favourable terms, the granting of which shall always be subject to the availability of resources and the international legal status of CERN;
(b) access to CERN labels (logotype);
(c) access to business incubator networks;
(d) access to contact with experts advising on entrepreneurship.
- CERN does not invest capital in spin-off companies.
- CERN does not take over shares / capital of spin-off companies.
- CERN does not provide any financial support to spin-offs from its regular budget.
- CERN cannot have its representatives on the boards and supervisory boards of spin-off companies.
Where to seek offers and how to get support?
Companies may obtain support in establishing partnership with the centre by contacting the ILO (Industrial Liaison Officer), who is a person designated by a member country to coordinate communication between CERN and its present or potential suppliers. Every member country has its own representative, who provides assistance to entrepreneurs operating in their area. Sylwia Wójtowicz from Wrocław Technology Park, is the CERN Officer for Poland (firstname.lastname@example.org).