Giving start-ups a helping hand

The French-Swiss foundation for research and technology (FFSRT) joined forces with CERN to organise an information day on setting up new businesses, at the Globe of Science and Innovation.

The participants heard talks by entrepreneurs who started out at CERN, sharing their experiences and difficulties.

CERN is a hot-bed of high-tech skills and know-how, and the Organization works actively to transfer this expertise to society.

Some such innovations can lead to new business start-ups, but it can be extremely difficult to obtain the information and support you need to find your way through the inevitable administrative labyrinth.

By opening its doors to the Fondation franco-suisse pour la recherche et la technologie (FFSRT) and hosting this "Entrepreneurial Day" on 7 March, CERN has clearly flagged its desire to assist budding entrepreneurs.

The day was jointly kicked off by Olga Hooft, General Manager of the FFSRT, and Maximilian Metzger, CERN’s Secretary-General.

The busy programme provided ample opportunity for fruitful exchanges, with talks by entrepreneurs who started out at CERN and were eager to share their experience and explain the difficulties they encountered, together with presentations on the support measures currently available in the region.

The main public-sector bodies that provide economic support for business start-ups in the regions of Rhône-Alpes, Alsace, Franche-Comté and in the six French-speaking Swiss cantons were in attendance to present their services. National-level support programmes such as CTI Start-up and OSEO were also on hand.

Herself a scientist and researcher, Olga Hooft, General Manager of the FFSRT, told us: « A few years ago, I myself would have liked to start up my own business, but I just didn’t have enough info. It’s really important to give budding entrepreneurs all the support, advice and coaching they need in order to go on and succeed. »

For CERN, Jean-Marie Le Goff, Head of the Technology Transfer Group (DSU-TT), presented the activities supported by the Laboratory (licensing, joint development projects with industry, etc.).

One of the day’s main events was the launch of a call for proposals. A special prize will be awarded to the best proposal, chosen by the FFSRT’s Scientific Board, and all the most promising projects will be admitted into a coaching and business start-up assistance programme.

For anyone who was unable to attend this Entrepreneurial Day, all the information and presentations made during the day are available at and can be downloaded from the FFSRT website: