CERN is the world's largest centre for research in particle physics, hosting several interlinked accelerators that supply various kinds of particles to the different experiments. CERN's flagship accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, is the world's most powerful particle accelerator and also the largest and most complex scientific instrument ever built. Located in a 27 km long circular tunnel 100 m underground, it accelerates particles to energies never reached before. Covering some 500,000 square metres on either side of the border between Switzerland and France, CERN's site is vast and complex. Around 10,000 physicists and engineers from around the world come to CERN to study the building blocks of matter and the forces that hold them together.
CERN openlab is a unique public-private partnership between CERN and leading Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies. Its mission is to accelerate the development of cutting-edge solutions to be used by the worldwide LHC community. Within the CERN openlab framework, CERN provides access to its complex IT infrastructure and its engineering experience, in some cases even extended to collaborating institutes worldwide. Testing in CERN's demanding environment provides the partners with valuable feedback on their products while allowing CERN to assess the merits of new technologies in their early stages of development for possible future use. The framework also offers a neutral ground for carrying out advanced R&D with more than one company.
Sponsorship can be at the associate, contributor, or partner level. Each type of sponsorship represents a different level of investment. The sponsors engage a combination of cash and in-kind contributions, the cash being used to hire young IT specialists dedicated to the projects. The associate status formalises a one-year collaboration based on independent and autonomous projects that do not require a presence on CERN site. The contributor status is a one-year collaboration based on tactical projects which includes a contribution to hire a young IT specialist supervised by CERN staff to work on the common project. The partners commit to a three-year programme of work and provide three kinds of resources: salaries for young researchers, products and services, and engineering capacity. See the current companies that sponsor openlab.
CERN openlab sponsorship represents a significant investment for the companies and for CERN. Such investments are only made when the expected return on investment is clear and the expected benefits for both parties have been carefully assessed. CERN openlab has a successful track record of producing significant return on investments of a technical, commercial, communication and recruitment nature for all the stakeholders.
The guiding principles outline the agreement framework of CERN openlab. They present its aims, the context in which it takes place, and the expected contributions from CERN and openlab sponsors, with associated benefits. It describes the three modes of sponsoring: Partner, Contributor and Associate status.