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New report shows benefits to the UK of CERN membership

6 August 2020

A new report released today demonstrates the wide-ranging benefits generated by the UK’s membership of CERN over the past 10-years. The report entitled, Evaluation of the Benefits that the UK has derived from CERN, showcases the positive impact international collaboration can have on the UK.

Commissioned by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the study shows the range of scientific, economic and social impacts emerging from the UK’s investment in and co-development of CERN.

CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, on the French/Swiss border near Geneva, is home to the largest science experiment on the planet, the Large Hadron Collider. In 2012, CERN confirmed the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the last missing piece of the standard model of particle physics, nearly 50 years after its original prediction

Charlotte Lindberg Warakaulle, Director of International Relations at CERN said:

“The valuable data in this report demonstrates the concrete benefits to society of fundamental research across many fields: from scientific knowledge and technological innovation, to its contribution to skills development and science diplomacy.

Our organisation is grateful for the UK’s investment in CERN, which helps to unlock this potential. Fundamental research requires long-term engagement; international collaboration makes this essential pooling of efforts possible, and the report provides a promising testimony for the future of CERN membership.”

Over the past 10-years at CERN, UK scientists have collaborated with their peers from around the world and contributed to scientific breakthroughs and UK businesses have won hundreds of high-value contracts. In addition, a number of technology developments from CERN have found commercial applications through UK companies.

The wide-ranging benefits showcased in the report cover science research and collaboration , innovation, skills and science diplomacy. There’s also an emphasis on the positive impact on UK businesses. UK highlights from the past decade at CERN include: 

  • just under £5m has been invested in ‘free to access’ training for over 1,000 people
  • over a 1,000 people also received on the job training, including staff from UK suppliers
  • 500 UK companies gained £183m in revenue and supporting employment.
  • This led to further work totalling an estimated £1bn turnover and £110m profit.

Over the past five years:

  • nearly 2,300 UK school groups visited CERN
  • 54,500 UK teachers and students visited in total.

The report confirms that the benefits of CERN membership go well beyond the opportunity to participate in world-leading science. CERN requires a wide variety of products and services to deliver its research programme. UK Engineering firm, HV Wooding has delivered over 28 contracts for CERN, supplying a range of manufactured products such as magnet parts.

Technical Support Manager Alan Crow said:

‘’Working for CERN has enhanced our reputation in the international field of scientific research and has led to contracts from other institutes in Europe and further afield. The name CERN certainly has a ‘wow’ status factor with our staff and customers alike, and we are proud to be suppliers to this world -class facility.’’

In all, the new report identified 30 examples of technology advancement at CERN serving wider application. Life-changing everyday technologies often arise from developments spurred through addressing gaps in fundamental science.

CERN’s best-known innovation is the World Wide Web, developed 30 years ago by UK engineer, Tim Berners-Lee.  However, several other technology developments from CERN have found commercial applications benefitting UK companies – including medical imaging technology and next-generation radiotherapy.

Highlights of the report can be found here and the full report is available here.

Last updated: 06 August 2020

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