The European Spallation Source (ESS) is currently under construction in Lund, Sweden, and will be the world’s most powerful neutron source.
It will provide new opportunities for researchers in a broad range of scientific areas, including materials, life sciences, energy, environmental technology, cultural heritage and fundamental physics.
The ESS will be an accelerator-based facility producing neutrons for 15 advanced instruments. It is one of Europe’s largest scientific projects. It will include a 2MW linear proton accelerator, a tungsten target wheel, laboratories and a data management and software centre. Construction started in July 2014, and the aim is for the source to open for scientific users by late 2027.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Business Opportunities Team acts as the UK industrial liaison office. The team supports UK companies interested in working with ESS.
How to access opportunities at ESS
There are three main routes for industrial involvement in the ESS:
1. Direct bid to ESS:
- for opportunities over €200,000, respond to the call for tender as advertised on the ESS website
- for market survey opportunities between €50,000 and €200,000, go through the industrial liaison officer, who will be able to put forward companies to ESS.
2. Bid to supply elements of the UK’s in-kind contributions (IKC)
STFC will advertise these on the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) procurement portal, or the GOV.UK Contracts Finder or Find a Tender service. RACE (UKAEA) is leading the delivery of the ESS Hot Cell, and procurement of this work has now been completed. Remaining items to be procured include parts for neutron instruments.
3. Bid to supply elements of other ESS partner nation’s IKC
See a list of signed IKC agreements. Some opportunities may be advertised on the Official Journal of the European Union.
Tips for bidding at ESS
- the tender process is conducted via the ESS Supplier Portal, and you must create an account – this will allow you to register your interest in tenders over €200,000, give you access to the tender documents, ask questions and receive answers, and submit your bid
- contracts are awarded on the basis of best value for money: how points are awarded is set out in the tender documents
- be prepared to make a competitive bid
- all tender documents should be available in English
- strictly follow the instructions about what to provide and in what format, to ensure that you submit a compliant bid
- if you are not sure about anything, do not make an assumption – ask (STFC or ESS)
- submit clarification questions about a tender and requests for an extension to the closing date to ESS via the supplier portal Q and A section – the deadline for asking questions is typically at least a week before the bid submission deadline
- if invited to tender for market survey opportunities, expect to receive an email giving instructions on how to access the documents
- read the ESS procurement rules and IP policy
- if you do not wish to bid, decline through the supplier portal.
UK Industrial Liaison Officer
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Last updated: 23 February 2023