CERN and the JRC discuss new collaboration opportunities

At a recent meeting organised by the Knowledge Transfer group, the Director for Science Policy and Stakeholder Relations of the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) together with a delegation from five JRC institutes came to CERN to identify topics of common interest where concrete collaborations between the two organisations could start.


Although CERN and the JRC have been collaborating over the last two decades on neutron-related research through the n-TOF collaboration and CERN is a member of the JRC’s TTO CIRCLE (see box), the bilateral meeting organised at the end of January was the first of its kind.  “Within the TTO CIRCLE we had met in many other circumstances. However, since the JRC is the only EC Directorate-General performing research and CERN is Europe’s largest scientific laboratory, it seemed natural to explore better the specific areas where there is a common interest in sharing knowledge and possibly trigger new developments,” explains Giovanni Anelli, head of CERN’s Knowledge Transfer Group.

In 2009, CERN and the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that defines the high-priority areas where the two organisations should collaborate. They already include: research infrastructures, international cooperation, e-infrastructures, knowledge transfer and intellectual property rights, careers and mobility of researchers, open access, technologies for fusion and medical applications, etc. "This joint workshop fits nicely into the general scope of the MoU, which is implemented by means of a Work Plan that is annually updated to include new initiatives or areas of collaboration,” explains Svetlomir Stavrev, head of the EU Projects Office. “If any of the topics discussed at the meeting leads to new joint activities, they might be included in the current Work Plan.”  

The meeting was co-organised by Bernard Denis from CERN’s Knowledge Transfer Group currently seconded at the JRC in the framework of the MoU. Several CERN experts attended and showed their interest in the topics that were put on the table. “CERN could concretely collaborate with the JRC in IT-related areas, including the GRID, which could be used by the JRC projects that deal with large amounts of data,” says Giovanni Anelli. “The JRC delegation was also interested in learning more about “Collaboration spotting”, a new tool that CERN is developing to investigate collaboration between public research organisations and industry using patent and publication data.” In addition to those IT-related projects, other areas where there could be a common interest in developing new collaborations include medical applications of nanomaterials for the transport of radioisotopes and, of course, applications of neutron data.

Where would the funding for new initiatives come from? “Horizon 2020, as much as FP7 has been for the previous EURATOM-related joint programmes, could be a source of funding for future projects with the participation of CERN and the JRC,” explains Stavrev. In the coming weeks, the two organisations will follow up on the meeting and will aim at identifying some concrete proposals after this fruitful exchange of ideas. To be continued…

The European Joint Research Centre

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the scientific and technical arm of the European Commission. The JRC’s webpage states: “as the Commission's in-house science service, the JRC's mission is to provide EU policies with independent, evidence-based scientific and technical support throughout the whole policy cycle.” The JRC coordinates a wide range of laboratories and unique research facilities. They include: the European Laboratory for Structural Assessment, a High Flux Reactor, the GELINA neutron time-of-flight facility, a Van de Graaff accelerator for neutron-related studies and a Vehicle Emission Laboratory (VELA).

Established under the EURATOM treaty in the late 50s, over the years the JRC has transformed from a purely research-driven organisation focussing on nuclear energy to a customer-driven, research-based policy support organisation.

In recent years, the JRC has been the initiator of the TTO CIRCLE, a network that brings together the leading public research organisations, including CERN. By participating in the TTO CIRCLE, the organisations have agreed to join forces on technology transfer to help boost innovation in Europe.


by Antonella Del Rosso