The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN – Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) is one of the largest and most respected research institutions in the world. The institution, established in 1954, is an alliance of 22 countries (including Poland since 1991).
Its central area of operations is research focusing on the fundamental structure of the universe. CERN brings together hundreds of scientists and engineers, who carry out scientific works on the physics of particles, i.e. the basic elements of matter, and forces between them. In doing so they use the biggest and most advanced scientific instruments in the world, which include radiation detectors and particle accelerators. The largest and the most famous one is the Large Hadron Collider launched in 2008.
CERN develops cutting-edge technologies that have impact on the growth of other branches of science, industry and business. It is where the WWW protocol, whose initial goal was to facilitate the exchange of scientific documents between researchers and scientific institutions, was created. Other techniques developed at CERN include advanced imaging techniques applied in geology, civil engineering or medicine. The results of studies carried out in the centre have revolutionised the areas such as UHV (Ultra High Vacuum), superconductivity, microelectronics, cryogenics or big data. It is also the place where science meets business on a large scale, both by means of technology transfer and in the form of orders executed by companies. It is estimated that more than a half of CERN’s budget (formed by contributions paid by member countries) returns to the industry in the form of various types of products or services.
Companies from different sectors of economy may take part in tenders and become suppliers for the institution. It should be noted that CERN does not look for high-tech suppliers only. As every organisation, it also uses services and products in its daily operations and for the purpose of expanding of the centre, which employs several thousand people. It needs both suppliers of stationery and contractors of construction works.
It means that companies of every size have the possibility to partner up with CERN.
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research has its own procedures concerning public procurement. Their purpose is to ensure the transparency and impartiality of tender proceedings. The institution manages its budget to make sure the number and value of expenses for the purchase of necessary products and services is balanced between member countries, which pay annual contributions. This is to ensure that the funds and evenly returned to the member countries’ economies. The degree at which the return is balanced is monitored annually in two categories – delivery of supplies and provision of services. If the return is not sufficiently high for any of the member countries, the country gets included in the group of poorly or very poorly balanced countries. Companies operating in these countries, at least until a new rating is published, may take part in CERN tenders on preferential terms. Striving to balance the level of expenses, the organisation will give them priority of choice before bidders from well balanced countries (provided, obviously, that they meet other tender requirements).
The organisation starts cooperation with companies chosen on the basis of their quotations submitted in reply to requests for quotation (announced for the purchase of goods or services with a value below CHF 200 thousand) or tender notices (the procedure applies to purchases the value of which exceeds CHF 200 thousand). To take part in tender proceedings, a company must pass an initial verification based on a survey research and be registered in CERN suppliers database. As a rule, only the companies with registered offices in one of the member countries may participate in CERN tender proceedings.
To make sure their bid is picked, a bidder must meet all formal, technical and financial requirements, and offer the lowest price from all other entities participating in the tender.
More information on tender proceedings is available at the website of CERN.
CERN’s tender requests are published on a dedicated platform.
Companies may obtain support in establishing partnership with the centre by contacting the ILO (Industrial Liaison Officer), who is a person designated by a member country to coordinate communication between CERN and its present or potential suppliers. Every member country has its own representative, who provides assistance to entrepreneurs operating in their area. Sylwia Wójtowicz, Director for Commercialisation and Development of the Wrocław Technology Park, is the CERN Officer for Poland.