CERN is aiming to help UK start-ups grow through a new centre that gives entrepreneurs access to equipment and expertise that may previously have been unattainable to them.

The Business Innovation Centre (BIC), set up by the research organisation in partnership with the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council, admitted its first company yesterday in the form of Croft Additive Manufacturing. The Warrington-based firm is a developer of 3D printing technology and produces highly specialised and bespoke metal filters applicable to a range of industries, including the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors.

The centre offers UK businesses access to the expertise and capabilities of the STFC and CERN.

Dr Sergio Bertolucci, director of research and scientific computing at CERN, said: “This is the first time that CERN has been involved in a dedicated business incubation initiative. The BIC builds a bridge between our technical experts and entrepreneurs in the UK. This knowledge-transfer scheme could inspire other member states to establish more national business incubation centres and turn CERN’s innovative ideas into business opportunities.”

Through the centre, start-ups in medicine, telecommunications, IT and security, will be able to use technologies such as particle accelerators, high performance computing, superconductors and cryogenics.

The centre, located at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, will accept up to 10 companies over the next two years.

Selected start-ups will get direct access CERN’s technologies, expertise and intellectual property, as well as up to £40,000 in funding, a "dedicated STFC business champion" and 40 hours of free access to technical expertise and facilities across STFC.

STFC CEO, Professor John Womersley, said: “UK companies already secure more than £15m each year in contracts with CERN, and this new initiative provides further potential to generate major economic and societal rewards for the UK economy, particularly in terms of innovation, job creation and economic growth.

"Sci-Tech Daresbury is a vibrant hotbed of world leading expertise and facilities teamed with the best business and networking opportunities – the potential for partnership and collaboration here is second to none. It is therefore the ideal home for the STFC, CERN, BIC and for Croft Additive Manufacturing to turn the significant commercial potential of its product into market reality.”

To date spin out technologies from CERN have included the world wide web, touch screen technology for tablet computers, more efficient solar panels and new ways of imaging cancers to name but a few.

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