European projects: a new wave of success

Since the beginning of this year, no fewer than six new EU projects at CERN have been launched. These are just a third of the projects selected by the European Commission for funding during the course of 2010, bringing in some 23 M€ over a period of two to five years. This makes last year our most successful yet in securing EU support, and places CERN among the top 50 out of more than 10,000 participants in the EU’s seventh Framework Programme.


The success rate of our proposals has been very good ever since the beginning of FP7 in 2007, particularly for projects coordinated by CERN. There has been a clear evolution of CERN’s involvement in EU projects over the last 10 years. In the early days, we tended to target the Marie Curie actions and the e-Infrastructures Programme. The former help us to fulfil our mission to train young people, while the latter supported the development of the European Grid, mainly through the EGEE projects. Later, the Organization became actively involved in the Research Infrastructure programme, which has provided EU support for certain accelerator and detector R&D activities. More recently, we have branched out further into areas as diverse as health technologies, science and society, ICT and open access.

In comparison to the previous Framework Programme, the number and share of EU projects coordinated by CERN has increased. It has become clear that there’s a demand for CERN to play a coordinating role in certain areas close to our core missions. This is the case, for example, in the fields of accelerator and detector R&D where CERN coordinates EuCARD and AIDA, each of which involves around 50 partners.

EU projects complement the R&D programmes of the Organization, and allow us to strengthen existing collaborations and develop new ones with institutes, laboratories and industrial companies from all over Europe. It’s a measure of how important the participation of EU projects has become to CERN today that around 10% of CERN staff, fellows, associates and students are currently engaged in EU funded activities. Most of these 250 or so people are young scientists and engineers, who, after the end of the projects, find jobs in other countries, in academia or in industry. This enhances mobility of researchers between countries and sectors, and contributes to the circulation of knowledge in Europe. All in all, the involvement in EU projects has a clear added value for CERN, and for European research.


Rolf Heuer