KT Fund: Five years of funding for impact

Cryogenic safety, ion beam therapy, event management for communities, emergency lighting… this year’s applications for funding through the Knowledge Transfer Fund demonstrate the breadth of possible applications of CERN technology beyond high-energy physics.


The use of high index glass spherical targets as retroreflectors for a 3D interferometer is the subject of one of the 2015 KT Fund Projects.

Following the 2015 selection committee held in January, the KT Fund has funded a total of seven new projects that aim to further develop CERN technologies to a level where they can be transferred and subsequently make a positive impact on society. “CERN’s ambitious scientific programme requires state-of-the-art technologies that are not always directly reusable by society because they were not designed with this purpose in mind,” explains David Mazur, Section Leader of the IP Dissemination Section. “Since 2011, the KT Fund has been facilitating the further development of technologies towards potential applications outside high-energy physics.”

The financial resources for this fund are partly covered by any income generated through commercial KT contracts and partly by an additional contribution from the CERN budget. To qualify for the KT Fund, projects must be approved by the respective department, thereby giving its full support to the staff members who will drive the project to a successful outcome. “One of the first projects funded in 2011 was a new radiation-hard automated conveyor system for transporting batches of radioisotopes in the ISOLDE facility,” recalls Thierry Stora, Leader of the MEDICIS Project. “Further to that, the CERN Management approved the construction of the MEDICIS Building and the MEDICIS project, which uses this conveyor system, has now received €3 million of funding from the EC to train Marie Curie fellows to develop novel radioisotopes for medical applications.”

Another example of a successful KT Fund project is the development of Indico – the meeting management tool used daily at CERN and now in 158 organisations worldwide – to increase its implementation outside high-energy physics by improving the branding and marketing of the software, as well as its ease of use and ease of tracking. The KT Fund success story also includes funding for a fellow conducting research that aims at optimising light extraction from scintillators using photonic crystals, which has now resulted in an industry-driven consortium for an improved PET scanning system for breast cancer. KT Fund projects cover a wide range of technologies, including a device for studying liquid samples, a portable radiation survey meter for use in intense magnetic fields and KiCAD, the free and open source electronic design automation tool for PCB design that aims to match commercial solutions in terms of features and usability, thereby fostering and promoting open hardware as a very accessible dissemination mechanism.

CERN staff members are encouraged to submit project proposals for innovative industrial applications of CERN technologies throughout the year by contacting the Knowledge Transfer Group.

An overview of all KT Fund projects can be found here. To learn more about CERN’s Knowledge Transfer activities, take a look at the 2014 annual Knowledge Transfer report, which has just been released. You can consult it online at http://knowledgetransfer.web.cern.ch.

by CERN Bulletin