A pioneering initiative to couple world-class research laboratories and business-management experts aims to create a European innovation ecosystem that will accelerate the development of disruptive technologies and their progress to market. ATTRACT, as the initiative is known, will commit €17 million to funding 170 breakthrough detection and imaging ideas with market potential to help enable the creation of products, services, companies and jobs based on these technologies.
“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 Prof. 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 the 31st of 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.
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.
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.
Driving the economy and jobs
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 €100 billion[i] (Frost & Sullivan Report, “Top Technologies in Sensors & Control”).
- The market for medical imaging and radiation detectors is worth €21 billion a year.
- Satellite imaging is a €2 billion 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. ATTRACT will also create multiple ways in which private investment can get involved in supporting the resultant businesses, thus creating economic growth for years to come.
“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,” says John Wood, Chair of the Project Advisory Committee of ATTRACT, former Head of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and of Engineering at Imperial College London.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The ATTRACT initiative will be launched publicly in Brussels on the 25th of September 2018 at a high-level conference on the European Union’s policy on “Open Science, Open Innovation, Open to the World”. It will be presented as an innovative European model for creating and scaling up technology companies. Journalists are invited to attend the ATTRACT presentation at the Open! Conference. For registration and interviews, see media contacts below.
ABOUT ATTRACT: 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. More info at www.attract-eu.com
[i] The short-scale is used throughout whereby ‘billion’ = 109 and ‘trillion’ = 1012.