Funding breakthrough ideas in detection and imaging technologies

Funding breakthrough ideas in detection and imaging technologies

ATTRACT Project Co-ordinator, Dr Markus Norberg, introduces the €17m ATTRACT fund, which has been designed to power a pipeline for European detection and imaging technologies, potentially opening up future investment opportunities for private investors.

ATTRACT is a pioneering initiative bringing together Europe’s fundamental research and industrial communities to lead the next generation of detection and imaging technologies. Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, the project aims to help revamp Europe’s economy and improve people’s lives by creating products, services, companies and jobs.

The ATTRACT pilot fund was opened to researchers and entrepreneurs from organisations all over Europe. It collected breakthrough ideas until the 31st of October, 2018. A high-level, independent Research, Development and Innovation Committee has now started to 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 initial 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.

ATTRACT will also create multiple ways in which private investment can get involved in supporting the newly-established businesses, thus creating economic growth for years to come.

John Wood, Chair of the Project Advisory Committee of ATTRACT, former Head of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and of Engineering at Imperial College London, UK, said: “ATTRACT will help the public sector be more effective in its role of reducing the risk of developing new technology to the point at which the private sector is willing to invest – just as the US did at the birth of Silicon Valley; it will bring together breakthrough ideas and top quality people supported by world leading institutions.”

Creating life-changing technologies for society

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.

State-of-the-art detection and imaging technologies form the cornerstone for several industrial sectors, including ICT, energy, process industries, manufacturing, aeronautics, medicine, robotics, space and transport. These technologies drive a direct annual market of over €100bn.1

  • The market for medical imaging and radiation detectors is worth €21n a year
  • Satellite imaging is a €2bn market, and is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 14.2% from 2018 to 2023
  • Open data can unlock over €2.7 trillion in value
  • The ICT sector represents 4% of the EU’s GDP, and includes technologies such as advanced manufacturing, robotic arms, remote sensors, and opto-mechanical assemblies
  • European research already excels in these areas. The availability of ATTRACT funding will accelerate the development of breakthrough solutions, as well as improving Europe’s return on its scientific investment by capturing the interest of private investors – business angels, venture capital firms and corporate investors.

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.

How can private investors get involved?

The ATTRACT Project Advisory Committee is currently exploring ways how the results of the first round of EC-funded ideas from ATTRACT could best be channelled to the private sector. As a first step, an investment club is being considered, permitting the voice of investors to be involved right from the beginning. An early-stage seed fund could then follow.

For more information contact Professor John Wood.

1 Frost & Sullivan Report, ‘Top Technologies in Sensors & Control’. The ‘short-scale’ is used throughout, whereby ‘billion’ = 109 and ‘trillion’ = 1012

Dr Markus Nordberg
Development & Innovation (IPT-DI)
Project Co-ordinator
+41 22 767 7377

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