From licensing to procurement: Opportunities galore for industry

26-02-2018

​It is a moment of opportunities at the ESRF. The European Synchrotron is immersed in the construction of the Extremely Brilliant Source, a new machine which has and will continue to open doors for industry to get involved. From procurement to licensing or even through European programmes, the possibilities of marrying the big scientific infrastructures to industry are endless.

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In the coming years, with the new machine, there will be 56 million euros for technology development up for grabs. These will cover instrumentation and X-ray optics for the beamlines, detectors, electronics and motor control and information technology. “We have successfully finalised all of the procurement regarding the construction of the new machine, now we are concentrating on the new beamlines”, explains Ingrid Milanese, head of procurement and contracts.

Procurement at a place like the ESRF is an exciting albeit sometimes challenging task. The fact that the institute’s developments are at the forefront of technology means that the procurement officers deal with a very specialised market, so there is a lot of work on trying to find the right companies. On top of that, there are strict timeframes to be respected, as well as a policy of juste-retour with the member states that participate in funding the ESRF. “Because of our nature, we challenge industry and create opportunities for disruptive innovation in many different fields”, explains Michael Krisch,   member of the ATTRACT Project Consortium Board and Head of the Instrumentation Services and Development Division at the ESRF.

Procurement is not the only way of working with the ESRF. The construction and operation of facilities like the ESRF generate an incredible amount of knowledge, which can then be transferred to industry and used in other environments. In this sense, the pan-European initiative ATTRACT, led by international scientific institutes amongst other partners, wants to ensure that innovative technological ideas in the fields of sensors and imaging are taken to the market. The ATTRACT initiative wants to bridge the gap between fundamental research and innovation and accelerate breakthrough innovation and foster industry competitiveness.

For the ESRF, it is not all about buying technology, but also about producing it and sharing it. At the ESRF the instrumentation is unique: every component of the machine or beamlines has been carefully designed by a team of engineers who keep the facility at the forefront of scientific research. These components have been shared by sales and licensing in the last decade, so that other synchrotron sources, as well as interested institutes and industry, can benefit from it.

 

Top image: The diapole magnets for the new EBS machine in the Chartreuse hall. Credits: S. Candé.