Read out

Quantum dosimetry –a new technology looking for applications

Sommersemester 2011 

Executive Summary

Fundamental research has always been under pressure to justify its spending of public money by transferring the knowledge gained to the economy and promote growth by innovation to the benefit of the entire public. This is particularly true for CERN, one of the world’s largest and most renowned centers for fundamental physics. Situated in Switzerland, CERN is famous for its Large Hadron Collider - the world’s largest and highestenergy particle accelerator. The organization has a strong interest in finding alternative applications in the private sector for the technologies developed as a side product of its scientific experiments.

One of those is the Quantum Dosimeter, a new generation radiation detector able to determine the dose, dose rate and composition of radiation with utmost precision.

This project aimed at the identification and evaluation of alternative application fields for the Quantum Dosimeter technology. Two of the newly identified fields – environmental monitoring and location monitoring of critical places for terrorism prevention – have been analyzed in greater detail. Both markets were found to be compatible with CERN’s strategic requirements and highly attractive in terms of competitive forces and their market potential. A brief outline of recommended market entry strategy has been developed for each application field.

Initial Situation

In the last few years the pressure on CERN to justify its spending of public money on non-applied science has increased along with the costs of the Large Hadron Collider. Therefore, CERN is highly interested in transferring its developed technologies to the private companies to boost the economy and thus prove the benefits of fundamental research to the public in order to secure further funding.

One of those technologies is the Quantum Dosimeter (QD), a radiation measurement device based on a radically new method. In order to find potential markets for this invention CERN has turned to the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Project Target

The project’s goal was to find as many alternative application fields as possible, to evaluate them and to propose commercialization strategies for the most attractive application fields. Fields with strong public impact were preferred by CERN. Financial gain was considered to be secondary. Military applications were explicitly excluded.

Approach and methodology

The project was conducted based on a user-community based approach to technological competence leveraging. The method consists of the following steps:

1) Identification of the main benefits by interviewing current and potential users:
First, the benefits of the technology have been identified by means of interviews with experts as well as users. Those benefits have then been condensed into 6 key benefits, which served as the starting point for the quest for alternative application fields.

2) Systematic search for additional application areas via a combination of interviewing and pyramiding:
Based on those 6 key benefits, more than 90 interviews have been conducted to identify potential partners and possible application fields. The interview partners were identified mainly by means of “pyramiding” (referencing of one user/expert to another).

3) Analysis of the commercial potential of identified applications:
As the next step, those application fields were evaluated according to the relevance of the QD’s benefits to the solution of the problem experienced in a particular field as well as according to their strategic fit with CERN’s goals. The two most promising applications fields - environmental monitoring and radiation monitoring of critical areas for security purposes - were subjected to detailed analysis, including competition analysis within the framework of Porter’s Five Forces, estimations of the market potential, volume and growth as well as a confrontation of market opportunities with possible threats based on the strength and weaknesses of the technology using the SWO T scheme.

4) Outline of a commercialization strategy for the most promising applications:
The last part presents the outline of the commercialisation strategy for each of the fields and a recommendation concerning the timing of market entry.

Results

In the course of this project, 28 potential application fields were identified, ranging
from material testing, space telescopy brick production, personal dosimetry, to contamination controls and cancer treatment programmes.

The two most promising fields with respect to strategic fit and the need for a new solution (as provided by the Quantum Dosimetry technology) turned out to be the stationary environmental monitoring and monitoring of critical places for the purpose of nuclear terrorism prevention (airports, hubs, mass events).

The field of environmental monitoring is recommended for immediate market entry. There is a potential development partner interested in the licensing of the technology. The market potential sums up to € 300 million; the current market volume is estimated to be € 45.5 million, leaving considerable space for growth, which is predicted to be 9% from 2011 till 2014. No major technical adaptations of the Quantum Dosimetry technology are required; the Quantum Dosimetry device is almost “ready to use”.

Monitoring of critical areas for security purposes is recommended for later market entry. The market is in an early development stage, posting impressive annual growth rates of 24%. The market potential for airports alone is estimated to amount to € 99 million; the potential market volume ranges from € 6.6 to € 20 million (most likely € 12.5 million). Various large players of the sector have already expressed interest in the cooperation with CERN. Legal framework is the major driver of the market, so that further development is dependent on the national and international security regulations.

Cooperation Partner

  • European Organization for Nuclear Research
    Knowledge Transfer Group
    CERN CH-1211
    Genève 23
    Switzerland

  • Ansprechpartner
    Giovanni Anelli
    Tel.: +41 76 487 8858
    E-Mail: Giovanni.Anelli@cern.ch

Student Team

  • Valentin Aschermann
    Christoph Bitzner
    Claudia Ilsinger
    Patricia Klopf
    Bernhard Sauerteig
    Maria Sergeeva
    Barbara Weissenböck
    Sabrina Zischka