Big Science, Big Business - STFC

The Big Science market is huge and getting bigger.

Governments around the world are investing billions in Big Science projects, creating potentially profitable opportunities for thousands of businesses. But what is Big Science? And why should your company get involved?

What is Big Science?

Big. Little. What does it all mean?

Big Science refers to large-scale scientific research organisations intended to provide solutions to some of the world’s most challenging questions.

The research they carry out is far-reaching, with potential impacts on the future of humanity. They often occupy very large sites, populated with complicated instrumentation and machinery, which can be difficult and expensive to build. Because of the costs associated with them, they are often funded by a group of national governments or institutions working together towards shared scientific goals.

In essence, Big Science is big research, with big goals, and big funding.

Is the UK involved?

Yes, the UK actively funds a number of Big Science organisations.

One of the most well-known is probably CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider and where the Higgs boson was discovered. However, there are many others. To name but a few:

All have large budgets and procure regularly.

Why should my company invest in Big Science?

Big Science isn’t just for scientists: it needs business too.

In the 4 years from 2021 to 2025, an estimated £35 billion of procurement and investment is planned, providing opportunities for thousands of suppliers across hundreds of industries. Requirements range from off-the-shelf goods, to services, to highly innovative items. From printer toner to bespoke instrument components, Big Science needs to collaborate with businesses of all sizes – from start-ups to SMEs, to multinationals – to ensure that research continues to provide solutions to some of our greatest challenges.

It’s crucial, therefore, for UK industry to begin to realign, explore and grow into this expanding market.

What is STFC and how can it help?

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is part of UKRI, which brings together the 7 research councils, Innovate UK and Research England, with a combined budget of nearly £8 billion. STFC not only delivers its own frontier research but also manages access to Big Science organisations both at home and abroad. This means that, as well as ensuring UK scientists can work with the best research facilities in the world, UK industry can supply them with products and services.

STFC’s Business Opportunities Team acts as a bridge between Big Science organisations and UK industry. The team provides free assistance to UK businesses to help them hear about and take part in contracts issued by Big Science. Many Big Science organisations do not advertise tenders publicly. Instead, they provide advance notice of large tenders to the STFC Business Opportunities Team. These are then publicised to UK industry. The team also offers specialised advice, guidance, and support throughout your Big Science journey.

How do I engage with Big Science?

To learn more about how your business could expand into the Big Science market, explore our business opportunities.

Sign up to receive updates and Big Science tender notifications from the STFC business opportunities team.


For Big Science enquiries, contact:

STFC business opportunities


Last updated: 13 January 2023

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