The articles in this chapter demonstrate the continued value and interest of the ESRF s X-ray facilities in commercial research and development, from improving immunotherapy (page 162) and advanced bio-imaging to follow metals in implants (page 163) to materials tailoring for catalysis and adsorbents (page 164) and investigating silica-rubber composite deformations for the tyre industry (page 165). A special focus is given to the industry work on our polyvalent BM05 beamline, which is fast becoming a leading resource for topography (X-ray diffraction imaging) thanks to the IRT Nanoelec, a French public-private partnership (page 166).
The 2020 restart
This past year was always going to be a different, but exciting, year for industry engagement, with the long-anticipated restart of user operation following the Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS) upgrade. Then COVID-19 arrived, inevitably changing our daily lives. In the Business Development Office, it added to the complexity of not only restarting the commercial access programme, but also meant new plans for outreach to industry and working remotely with clients across all of the beamlines via mail-in samples.
The ESRF beamline staff, support groups in safety, software systems, logistics and the Business Development Office have been working extremely hard to put in place systems to maintain access to the ESRF s facilities. Many clients have been advantageously using the new systems, and we realise that this is opening innovative new ways of working and new approaches to service provision some of which will be here to stay.
Despite the challenges, most beamlines reopened for industry by the end of 2020, and the main pillars of the commercial access programme, structural biology and tomography, are operating, with tomography at BM05 in particular harvesting the benefits of the new X-ray source, with more brilliance and coherence giving spectacular gains at the beamline. The BM05 team have recently tested a setup to take the routine data collection options for CT down to the 0.3-micrometre resolution level, which we hope will become available as a standard option in 2021, complementing the automated tomography system on ID19, co-financed by the IRT Nanoelec, and successfully deployed
for remote access in the public ESRF access programme.
During 2020, we welcomed Pauline Gravier and Kuda Jakata as postdoctoral fellows with strong links to the industry programme. Pauline and Kuda are both working on tomography beamlines Pauline with the ID16A and ID16B teams, and Kuda with BM05 and ID19. Synchrotron CT is developing rapidly due to highly impressive data quality going far beyond lab-based sources and providing extra detail in spatial resolution, contrast and/or time resolution when commercial R&D work requires it. We also saw Romain Talon join the structural biology team as the new industry liaison, linking our protein crystallography, BioSAXS and cryo-electron microscopy facilities to the pharmaceutical industry. He replaces our long-standing liaison, Stephanie Monaco, who is now Deputy Head of the User Office.
The Business Development Office also handles technology transfer, valorisation of ESRF IPR and manufacture-and-sale of unique equipment. 2020 has seen demand for ESRF technology and instrumentation grow, perhaps linked to the renewal of facilities being planned around Europe and beyond. ESRF products that are proving popular are the very high-quality thin-film scintillators and crystal analysers produced at the Liquid Phase Epitaxy Facility and Crystal Analyser Laboratory, respectively. These are almost off-the-shelf products, but the ESRF also manufactures more complex unique instrumentation, such as advanced compact cryostats and specialised detector systems, as a further route to share our know-how with other light sources.
A bumper year for European grants
With the ESRF closed for much of 2020, we had time to focus on European grant opportunities, and a number of European projects have been approved in the latest round of funding. These add to projects including STREAMLINE and our InnovaXN MSCA COFUND for 40 PhD students on projects driven by industrial R&D interests.
LEAPS Innov is a pilot action, coordinated by DESY, where ESRF is co-leading a work package on industry innovation with light sources with colleagues from ALBA and Diamond. LEAPS Innov will provide the resources for the LEAPS light sources to experiment with a range of approaches co-developed with industry and is