EUR17 M Fund to Power European Detection and Imaging Innovation

The pioneering ATTRACT initiative couples world-class research laboratories and business management experts to create a European innovation ecosystem that will accelerate the development of disruptive technologies and their progress to market. The initiative, in which ESO is a partner, will fund 170 breakthrough detection and imaging ideas with market potential, and aims to create products, services, companies and jobs based on new detection and imaging technologies.

To trigger disruptive innovation, the ATTRACT project will commit €17 million as seed funding for 170 projects developing breakthrough detection and imaging technologies in Europe.

ESO builds and operates a suite of the world's most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes, and thus relies on cutting-edge detection and imaging technology. As a partner in the ATTRACT, ESO stands to benefit from detector breakthroughs fostered by the ATTRACT project.

“The process of developing new science into technologies that enable breakthrough innovation often happens by chance. ATTRACT aims to create and deploy mechanisms and a permanent pipeline for systematically achieving such transformation,” says Henry Chesbrough, who coined the term “Open Innovation” and is a special advisor to ATTRACT. “In contrast to incremental innovation, which generates reactive or adaptive responses to a problem, breakthrough innovation is driven by a desire to anticipate emerging or future needs.”

The ATTRACT seed fund is open to researchers and entrepreneurs from organisations all over Europe. The call for proposals is already open and will collect breakthrough ideas until 31 October 2018. A high-level, independent Research, Development and Innovation Committee will evaluate proposals and select those to be funded based on a combination of their scientific merit, innovation readiness and potential societal impact. The successful proposals will be announced in early 2019.

The 170 breakthrough projects funded by ATTRACT will have one year to develop their ideas. During this phase, business and innovation experts from the ATTRACT Project Consortium’s Aalto University, EIRMA and ESADE Business School will help project teams explore how their disruptive technology can be transformed into breakthrough innovations with strong market potential.

Most scientific advances, technical applications, commercially worthwhile products and businesses targeting emerging societal challenges rely on detection and imaging technologies in some way. Disruptive innovations emerging from ATTRACT will trigger transformations that will have real impact on people’s lives.

Examples of future applications for society could include: portable scanners for out-patient treatment; sensors to help the visually impaired navigate the world more easily; networks of sensors to make agriculture more productive and less energy-intensive; smarter use of monitoring and big data analysis to make factories work more efficiently; better forms of online learning; and new ways to accurately monitor climate change.

Led by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the ATTRACT initiative involves the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the European XFEL, Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), Aalto University, the European Industrial Research Management Association (EIRMA) and ESADE. The initiative is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Source: European Southern Observatory
Date: Sep 10, 2018