EU Science Facilities are Calling for Business Partners

Submitted by Kristina Ananičienė on 25 November 2022

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BIG science big business

Science facilities are always on the outlook for possible collaborators and partners in a wide range of industrial sectors. They are constantly searching for suppliers to help maintain older machines as well as develop and set up new structures.

Representatives of Europe’s largest science facilities (BigScience Facilities) met with existing and potential new industry partners and suppliers in Granada, Spain on 4-6 October during the BigScience Business Forum (BSBF 2022). “BigScience” are a very large physical research facilities such as the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland or the international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject ITER in France.

More than 1000 people participated in the buzzing BSBF conference where the science facilities could finally meet their industrial collaborators in real life after the COVID lockdown to discuss urgent needs, plans for maintenance and development, and future tenders.

Facilitated Xchange program for selected companies – BIGINN

The BIGINN project had set up an Xchange program enabling  12 SMEs from 5 different EU countries to meet Big Science facilities from across Europe at BSBF. BIGINN is funded by the EU COSME program and the acronym stands for “A new beginning for business and Big Science Innovation” (GA No. 101037928, COS-CLUSTER-2020-3-03-1).

The Xchange was designed to complement the BSBF conference, so the participating SMEs could meet selected partners and gain specific insights into the BigScience market within their fields of business.

Europe’s BigScience facilities – business opportunities for upcoming years

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) plans to spend 2.5 billion EUR during the period 2022-2026. This budget will be used to build accelerators and detectors and develop cutting-edge technologies in various domains: such as superconductivity, microelectronics, cryogenics, big data, and ultra-high vacuum. Almost half of the annual budget is spent on a range of goods and services from industry.

Fusion for Energy (F4E) has a budget of about 6.5 billion EUR for the period of 2021-2027. The budget will be dedicated to the following sectors: (i) Magnets 22 MEUR; (ii) Main Vessel 874 MEUR; (iii) Remote Handling 264 MEUR; (iv) Cryoplant & Fuel Cycle 231 MEUR; (v) Antennas and Plasma Engineering 162 MEUR; (vi) Neutral Beam and EC Power Supplies and Sources 258. MEUR; (vii) Diagnostics 201 MEUR; (viii) Site and Buildings and Power Supplies 1,246 MEUR; (ix) Technical Support Activities 144 MEUR; (x) Broader Approach 500 MEUR; (xi) DONES 100 MEUR.

For the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the total estimated procurement budget for the period 2022-2026 amounts to 237 million EUR. During the next five years, EMBL will invest in its campus and IT-infrastructure (compute, storage, connectivity, data security) and procure a diverse range of scientific equipment, among others:  state-of-the-art high and ultra-high-resolution light and electron microscopy. It will also continue investing in beamline detectors and instrumentation.

ESA, the European Space Agency, presented its scientific ambitions for Europe with an impressive list of activities that aims at making Europe a space power in the same league as the US, China, and Russia, by 2035. ESA has activities across every area of the space sector: space science, human spaceflight, exploration, earth observation, space transportation, navigation, operations, technology, telecommunications, and safety and security from space. ESA annually spends approximately 5.5 MEURO and is increasingly active in stimulating the downstream market that follows from space developments and applications. ESA in 2022-2026 foresees placing more than 1000 contracts per year.

The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is a center of excellence for fundamental research for imaging and studying the structure of matter at the atomic and nanometric scale in many fields of research, including life sciences, material sciences, and physics. The procurement opportunities in the period 2022-2026 are estimated at: (i) Optics 5.5 MEUR; (ii) Precision mechanics 15.6 MEUR; (iii) IT infrastructure 24 MEUR; (iv) Buildings 8.2 MEUR; (v) Infrastructure 7.5 MEUR; (vi) Detectors: 5.6 MEUR.

The European Spallation Source (ESS) is a multidisciplinary research facility based on the world’s most powerful neutron source. The facility will enable scientific breakthroughs in research related to e.g. materials, energy, health and the environment, in order to address some of the most important societal challenges of our time. It is expected to deliver its first science in 2023 and reach its full capacity three years later in 2026. The ESS procurement budget is estimated to be 175 MEUR budget in the period 2202-2024. This includes all procurements from low-value procurement to high-value tenders published on the organization’s website.

The European XFEL electron laser is a research facility with a 3,4 km long tunnel where intense Xray flashes allow scientists to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional images of the nanoworld, film chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets. The procurement budget for the period 2022– 2026 is estimated to be 418 million EUR. The campus is still growing and further developed, with additional user infrastructures such as an additional office building and a visitor’s center on the way. There are also two more tunnels (SASE 4 & 5) waiting to be equipped for future use.

More information can be found in the Procurement Handbook. It’s a document containing an easy-to-read introduction to Big Science Organisations, a detailed outline of budgets, future needs, and explanations of procurement procedures for the different BigScience facilities.

BSBF listing of specific business sectors:

  • Power electronics, electromechanics
  • Diagnostics and detectors, sensors, optics, and instruments
  • Information and communication technologies.
  • Basic and advanced manufacturing
  • Complex buildings construction and its safety-related systems
  • High Precision and large mechanical components
  • Instrumentation, control, and CODAC
  • Cryogenics, vacuum, and leak detection technologies
  • Superconductivity and superconducting magnets
  • Remote handling systems
Do you want to know more?

Check a previously published article for an overview of “Big business opportunities in the Big Science market” or write an email to info [at] biginn.eu for more information about business possibilities and future Xchanges.


This was article is funded by the European Union’s COSME Programme.

The content of this publication represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

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