Antoine Le Gall

Risky projects for unique rewards

Submitted by alegall on
06 September 2022

Originality of projects, autonomy of action and willingness to take risks – this is what motivated Magdalena Kowalska, a CERN staff member at ISOLDE, to apply for EU funding at CERN. Not just any projects; her focus is on the ones that allow researchers to fully deploy their ingenuity. This year, the Polish scientist who spent over 20 years at the Organization, has been awarded a new grant from the European Research Council (ERC). With this, she has become the only one among her CERN peers to have received two such grants.

Magdalena's journey can be a good starting point for potential candidates to European projects. Unlike the projects that bring together a consortia of ten, twenty or even forty members on broad themes, ERC projects are much more flexible and highlight the innovative work of a small team of researchers. "This is one of the only truly bottom-up European programmes - one that gives voice to fundamental research and cross-disciplinary approaches," explains Magdalena. Familiar with interdisciplinary work through her role as ISOLDE's physics coordinator and scientific secretary, she has been able to learn from the hundreds of annual users of the facility and in particular from the links between physics and biology.

Eager to open up to new horizons, Magdalena obtained her first ERC project back in 2015 to explore the use of unstable isotopes in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Called BetaDropNMR, this “Starting Grant” project received sufficient funding to finance her salary as CERN LD staff, a post-doc, and PhD student with equipment funding from CERN and thus start building her own research team. "The main advantage of such funding is that it gives researchers a large degree of scientific freedom - this is particularly interesting for those working in large collaborations," she adds.

From one project to the next. In last April, she again got selected for an ERC grant. This time, it is PresOBEN, a fundamental research “Consolidator Grant” project looking at the detailed structure of unstable nuclei. Magdalena emphasises the intense preparatory work that led to this second success: “It is important to secure the foundations: to have a solid proof of principle via simulations or experiments, to build on recent publications and to demonstrate how the impact of past successes can be vastly increased by the funding. Above all, one must show that the project is original and risky but feasible, timely, and that you’re a unique person to carry it out”. Obtaining such funding is not a guarantee and a certain amount of imagination may be necessary to plan for contingencies, bring together partners with complementary expertise, and of course adapt the presentation for the selection panel.

ERC grants are not the only funding that have enabled Magdalena to move her projects forward. There are many seed-funding opportunities for CERN personnel such as the Knowledge Transfer Fund and the Medical Applications (MA) budget which help launch projects in their early phase. The latter enabled the GammaMRI project to have first results and, thus, get selected for funding under Horizon 2020's Future and Emerging Technologies, the programme's high-risk / high-gain funding scheme (now replaced by EIC Pathfinder). Magdalena is now also starting an MA project on an innovative Nuclear Magnetic Resonance technology (RD-ZULF-NMR).

From quantum-resistant cryptography to advanced robotics, from two-dimensional materials to extreme data mining, a dozen Horizon Europe calls have been identified by CERN’s EU Projects Office as of potential interest for the organisation. If you are considering EU funding for your R&D projects, please do not hesitate to subscribe to the “EU projects @ CERN” Newsletter, to register for the dedicated training and to contact the EU Office.

Magdalena Kowalska, a Polish physicist working at the ISOLDE nuclear physics facility, in front of the new nuclear physics and biology experiment that she’s developing with her team (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)
Meet Magdalena Kowalska, a CERN staff member at ISOLDE, who has received two ERC grants. She tells us her views about these projects that allow scientists to realise their new ideas and potential.
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A snapshot at next EU funding at CERN - Q3 2022

Submitted by alegall on
05 September 2022

Several Horizon Europe 2021-2022 calls have been identified by CERN’s EU Projects Office as of potential interest for the organisation. In order to give you a flavour of what’s in there for you, the Office has handpicked a selection of interesting ones for 2022 as outlined below. The Horizon Europe 2023-2024 calls will be released at the end of the year.

From quantum-resistant cryptography to advanced robotics, from two-dimensional materials to extreme data mining, the highlighted calls carry opportunities for CERN, for your research and for your career. Furthermore, they display the full diversity of what can be the purpose of an EU project: fundamental research of course, but also societal applications and market opportunities.  

If your research topic is not covered in the table below,  

  • check the full list curated by the CERN’s EU Projects Office here
  • and/or browse the European Commission portal for an overview of all the calls.  

Applying to a call is a specific art to achieve success and for this reason, the Office has set up a training to help CERN personnel understand what is an EU Project, how they work and, more especially, how to apply to one. This training also provides information about the structure, content and novelties of Horizon Europe, the new EU framework programme for research and innovation. 



Opening date 

Deadline date 


Transition towards Quantum-Resistant Cryptography 

30 June 2022 

16 November 2022 



New generation of advanced electronic and photonic 2D materials-based devices, systems and sensors 

16 June 2022 

16 November 2022 


2D materials-based devices and systems for biomedical applications  

16 June 2022 

16 November 2022

HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - Postdoctoral Fellowships 12 May 2022 14 September 2022
HORIZON-MSCA-2022-DN-01 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - Doctoral Network 12 May 2022 15 November 2022
HORIZON-MSCA-2022-SE-01 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - Staff Exchanges 06 October 2022 8 March 2023
HORIZON-MSCA-2022-COFUND-01 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - COFUND 11 October 2022 9 February 2023
ERC-2022-POC2 European Research Council - Proof of Concept Grants 11 November 2021 19 September 2022
ERC-2023-STG European Research Council - Starting Grants 12 July 2022 25 October 2022
ERC-2023-SYG European Research Council - Synergy Grants 13 July 2022 08 November 2022
The EU Projects Office has handpicked a selection of interesting Horizon Europe calls for CERN
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First Horizon Europe grants awarded to CERN

Submitted by alegall on
27 June 2022

The harvest of Horizon Europe projects continues for CERN. A few months after announcing the selection of the first Horizon Europe projects with CERN participation, the European Commission announced the selection of the first project coordinated by the Organization, ATTRACT 1(B). This good news was quickly followed by the award of two ERC Consolidator Grants: one in the EP department and one in the TH department. The three projects will respectively address the transition of detection and imaging technologies from the lab to the market, give new perspectives on nuclear structure studies and help our understanding of complex collider events.

The ATTRACT Programme to be extended to Earth observation and monitoring

Following the success of the first ATTRACT project referred to as Phase 1(A) and the recent launch of Phase (2), the ATTRACT Consortium has been granted 5 Million Euros by the European Innovation Council (EIC) to replicate Phase 1(A) with a dedicate focus on Detection and Imaging (D&I) for Earth Observation and Monitoring. This ATTRACT Phase 1(B) will fund 30 breakthrough D&I concepts at €100.000 each. Consortia selected through an Open Call will have 12 months to investigate the scientific merits, technical feasibility, and potential game-changing applicability of their concept up to TRL level 3-5. Technologies should be capable of collecting data (physical, chemical, biological, etc.) with high specificity and extreme sensitivity whilst offering high spatial and temporal resolution and massive parallelism. They should be suitable for seamless integration into pervasive, low cost, and low-power ICT systems (incl. portable, wearable, IoT). The Open Call for proposals is scheduled to be launched during the autumn 2022 with the detailed information on the award and selection criteria.

Two new ERC Consolidator Grants to support fundamental research at CERN

The European Research Council (ERC) was established as the first-ever European programme for support to fundamental research. As one of the very few EU programmes which are truly bottom-up, the ERC has quickly become very popular with the particle physics community. Since the start of the programme in 2007, CERN has been hosting researchers of outstanding track-record thanks to such grants. “CERN is now proud to host the first ERC projects under Horizon Europe, which are two Consolidator Grants. These grants support world-class researchers who are consolidating their own research team and/or programme” explains Svetlomir Stavrev, Head of the EU Projects Management and Operational Support section at CERN.

Neutrons are fascinating particles but their electrical neutrality makes it difficult to learn about their distribution in nuclei. The ERC consolidator grant PreSOBEN aims to investigate this field by using a novel, high-accuracy experimental approach, combining radiation-detected Nuclear Magnetic Resonance with rf-laser double spectroscopy on optically-pumped short-lived nuclei produced at ISOLDE. “The project will involve a close collaboration with quantum-chemistry, atomic- and nuclear-physics theorists, who will use the data to improve their approaches. We hope that this will open new perspectives for nuclear structure studies, determination of neutron-star properties, or APV studies”, explains Dr. Magdalena Kowalska, PreSOBEN Project Coordinator. CERN is the only participant to this project which will run from 1 September 2022 for five years.

The future investigation of the fundamental laws of nature in collider experiments relies on the interpretation of complex scattering events by means of accurate theoretical calculations, which are instrumental to find small signals of elusive new phenomena. These calculations must describe the evolution of the system from the few particles produced in the high-energy phase of the collision to the tens or hundreds of low-energy particles observed in the detectors. “As an ERC consolidator grant, JANUS aims at transforming our understanding of such a multi-scale evolution. New innovative techniques will be developed to obtain state-of-the-art theoretical predictions in the important fields of Higgs and jet physics, enabling their optimal exploration at the LHC and future collider experiments”, explains Pier Francesco Monni, JANUS Project Coordinator. The project, that will start in the fall/winter 2022 for five years, will involve researchers at CERN and at the University of Bern.

From quantum-resistant cryptography to advanced robotics, from two-dimensional materials to extreme data mining, over twenty Horizon Europe calls have been identified by CERN’s EU Projects Office as of potential interest for the organisation. If you are considering EU funding for your R&D projects, please do not hesitate to visit the CERN EU Projects website and contact the EU Office.

EU horizon
EU horizon (Image: CERN)
The European Commission has recently approved funding for the first Horizon Europe projects coordinated by CERN, including two ERC grants hosted by the Organization.
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The ARIES project, a promoter of innovation and accessibility for accelerators, comes to a close

Submitted by alegall on
26 June 2022

Over the past five years, the ARIES (Accelerator Research and Innovation for European Science and Society) project has brought together 41 partners from academia and industry from 18 different European countries in the aim of developing key accelerator technologies to make present and future machines more efficient, affordable, reliable and sustainable.

Under the coordination of CERN, the project has been breaking new ground for the accelerator community, and this Horizon 2020-funded effort has now borne his fruits: the European ecosystem of accelerator centres is now stronger than ever, with easily accessible facilities, well-highlighted synergies and new plans to improve current technologies and infrastructures.

Video presentation of the ARIES project when it started as a new initiative to improve particle accelerators and make them more compact and easier to use outside research. (Video: CERN)

One of the project’s main endeavours was the facilitation of transnational access. In the aim of providing a wide range of European researchers and industry with access to top-class accelerator research and test infrastructures, ARIES set up a network of 14 accelerator test facilities across Europe. The programme allows users to carry out tests within five separate domains: magnet, material, electron and proton beam, radiofrequency, and plasma beam. With over 23 000 hours of testing for 307 users, the scheme generated interesting new science and expanded the project’s user community.

ARIES was critical in investigating and promoting new perspectives for accelerator research and development. It created a breeding ground for research in plasma and laser-based acceleration, a field now driven in Europe by EuPRAXIA, another promising EU-funded project. Furthermore, ARIES support was key in ensuring the continuation of initiatives such as studies on high-temperature superconductivity or the revival of the studies on muon colliders. In 2022, a prototype electron gun for electron lenses was assembled and tested by four ARIES collaborators, and breakthrough results were achieved in the fields of thin superconducting films and materials for extreme thermal management.

The use of accelerator to remove harmful emission from ship exhaust was a remarkable example of how society could profit from particle accelerator technologies.

Strong interaction with industry was promoted as a key objective. The project could benefit from an enhanced industrial participation, with the involvement of seven industries and one association, and ran three new co-innovation programmes with industry. It also identified and supported a wealth of technologies with societal and environmental applications, such as a particle accelerator system to remove harmful emission from ship exhaust.

With its mission now fulfilled, ARIES is now coming to a close. However, its succession is ensured thanks to two new projects: started in April 2021, I.FAST will continue and further advance on ARIES’ legacy of joint R&D activities with industry to develop ideas and technologies for the next generation of particle accelerators. In parallel, EURO-LABS will further the transnational access tradition of ARIES, bringing research centres even closer together by creating a new, synergetic network of research facilities for accelerator, detector and nuclear technologies.

HiRadMat experiment installation for the first beam time run after LS2
In the aim of providing a wide range of European researchers and industry with access to top-class accelerator research and test infrastructures, ARIES set up a network of 14 accelerator test facilities across Europe. (Image: CERN)
The EU-funded ARIES project has succeeded in opening new avenues for the accelerator community
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I.FAST launches new fund to support innovation in accelerator technologies

Submitted by alegall on
25 June 2022
Image 1

Since 2021, the EU-funded I.FAST project has been developing innovative technologies common to multiple accelerator platforms and defining strategic roadmaps for future development. Under CERN coordination, the community of 49 beneficiaries contributes to preparing for the next step of particle physics research, improving the sustainability of accelerator-based science and meeting the specific needs of societal applications.

The project’s Internal Innovation Fund (IIF) was created to stimulate the innovation in accelerator technologies. The primary objective of the fund is to encourage I.FAST beneficiaries to identify innovative solutions with viable industrial or commercial potential. This fast-track, competitive process will finance emerging technologies, processes, research, business models and other innovative solutions, at both development and prototype stages.

Technologies supported by the IIF shall be capable of advancing the state of the art in fields related to the I.FAST thematic areas. They shall also contribute to improving the sustainability of particle accelerator technologies, by reducing accelerators’ electricity consumption or footprint, by improving their performance for an equivalent impact, or by serving direct environmental purposes.

The thematic areas of interest include:

  • Novel particle accelerator concepts and technologies
  • High luminosity accelerators for light sources
  • Innovative superconducting magnets
  • Innovative superconducting thin film coated cavities
  • Advanced accelerator technologies and materials
  • Sustainable concepts and technologies
  • Societal applications
  • Technology Infrastructure

Individual projects will receive from 100 to 200 kEUR in funding until the exhaustion of the available fund (1.000.000 euro). The supported projects must include at least one I.FAST beneficiary and one industrial partner in their consortia.

To submit your proposal, complete the web submission form on the I.FAST website by September 15, 2022.

Find out more about the application process by visiting the I.FAST website or by contacting Marcello Losasso, the fund manager.

The supported projects must include at least one I.FAST beneficiary and one industrial partner in their consortia.
The fund aims to stimulate innovation in accelerator technologies by supporting projects with a contribution of up to 200 kEUR
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CERN’s Horizon Europe projects off to a flying start

Submitted by alegall on
04 March 2022

In January 2022, the European Commission announced the selection of the first three Horizon Europe projects with CERN participation. Submitted under the Research Infrastructure programme, these projects promise new developments in transnational access to accelerator and detector research facilities, new digital twin engines, and a European Open Science Cloud.

“2021 was the first year of the new EU Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, and we have seen continued interest of CERN teams for participation in EU projects with 29 proposal submitted so far” explains Svetlomir Stavrev, Head of the EU Projects Management and Operational Support section at CERN. “CERN was one of the most successful international organisations in the Horizon 2020 framework programme. The selection of the first Horizon Europe projects gives us confidence in our success for the years to come!”

A new, synergetic network of research facilities for accelerator and detector technologies, such is the promise of the EURO-LABS project. “The transnational access project brings together, for the first time, the three communities engaged in nuclear physics, accelerator science and technology, and detectors for high-energy physics, pioneering a super community of sub-atomic researchers” explains Ilias Efthymiopoulos, EURO-LABS deputy scientific coordinator. CERN will grant access to several of its facilities and will also contribute to the scientific coordination and project management of EURO-LABS. The project brings together 31 participants from 16 countries and will start on 1 September 2022 for a duration of four years.

In the aim of supporting the growing number of research use cases, interTwin will build the prototype of a universal digital twin engine, a software able to virtually replicate any physical device, product or entity thanks to machine learning and software analytics. “The project will bring together modelling and simulation experts in high-energy physics, radio astronomy, astroparticle physics, climate research, and environmental monitoring” says Maria Girone, Chief Technical Officer of the CERN openlab. CERN provides solutions in the fields of advanced AI workflow method lifecycle, complex simulation and modelling. The project gathers a consortium of 28 participants from 12 countries and will begin on 1 September 2022 for three years.

To create an ever more tailored environment for researchers and improve the interoperability of their discoveries, FAIRCORE4EOSC will develop new core components of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). “The project will integrate CERN-developed InvenioRDM and Zenodo as digital repository solutions that are well integrated with EOSC core components, particularly to offer a FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) infrastructure for research software archival” adds Jose Gonzalez Lopez, Digital Repositories Section Leader. The project brings together a consortium of 22 partners from 10 European countries. It will start on 1 May 2022 and will run for three years.

From quantum-resistant cryptography to advanced robotics, from two-dimensional materials to extreme data mining, over twenty Horizon Europe calls have been identified by CERN’s EU Projects Office as of potential interest for the organisation. If you are considering EU funding for your R&D projects, please do not hesitate to visit the CERN EU Projects website and contact the EU Office.

EU horizon
EU horizon (Image: CERN)
The first three Horizon Europe projects with CERN participation, spanning engineering, accelerator technology and computer science, have been approved for funding
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Subscribe to the “EU Projects @ CERN” newsletter

Submitted by alegall on
28 October 2021

Starting in November 2021, the “EU Projects @ CERN” newsletter will provide readers with a quarterly digest of news about European projects in which CERN is involved.

Each issue will focus on a specific topic related to European projects: the creation of project consortia, the search for suitable funding, etc.

The newsletter will not only provide information on EU support services and resources at CERN, but also particulars on deadlines and funding opportunities, such as open or upcoming calls for proposals of potential interest to CERN.

“With the revamped publication of our newsletter, we aim to display the diversity of European projects at CERN and to further encourage CERN teams to participate in the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation,” explains Svetlomir Stavrev, Section Leader for EU Project Management and Operational Support. “The newsletter will also show how European projects contribute to the R&D programmes and objectives of the Organization.”

CERN’s long-standing cooperation with the European Commission is based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two parties in 2009, and on the very successful participation of CERN in the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (100 projects in FP7 and 110 projects in H2020).

Subscribe to the newsletter by joining this e-group.

Member states flags 2020 for Website
Member states flags for Website (Image: CERN)
CERN’s EU Projects Office announces a relaunch of its newsletter starting in November 2021
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EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation visits CERN

Submitted by selyacou on
18 October 2021
Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, met with Fabiola Gianotti
On 6 October 2021, Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, met with Fabiola Gianotti, CERN Director-General. (Image: CERN)

On 6 October 2021, CERN was pleased to host a visit of Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. The Commissioner was welcomed by the Director-General, who introduced the activities of the Organisation and the plans for future projects in particle physics.

After a visit to the ATLAS Experiment and an exchange with the Directorate during lunch, Mariya Gabriel met a group of young scientists and engineers from all 27 EU member states, working at CERN. The lively discussion covered diverse topics such as gender equality in research and innovation, attracting more girls in STEM, EU support for careers of young scientists and young innovators, and the importance and role of science communication.

In a wrap-up meeting at the end of her visit, the Commissioner discussed with the Directorate the participation of CERN to the Horizon 2020 programme and in particular the EU projects that support the use of CERN technologies outside of particle physics in areas such as health, energy and environment. Were also mentioned CERN’s approach to knowledge transfer and intellectual property, co-innovation between research infrastructures and European industry, and the role of procurement for innovative businesses as CERN suppliers.

VIP visit
Mariya Gabriel met a group of young scientists and engineers from all 27 EU member states, working at CERN. (Image: CERN)

The visit of the Commissioner contributes to strengthening the excellent relations of CERN with the European Commission, which are based on a memorandum of understanding signed between the two sides in 2009, and on a very successful participation of CERN in the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (100 projects in FP7 and 110 projects in H2020).

Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, visited CERN on 6 October 2021, met with young scientists and engineers, and had working meetings with the CERN Directorate.