How to cooperate with Big Science institutions?


Big Science organisations such as CERN, ESA, ESS, ESO or F4E manage multi-billion budgets. Funds are being allocated to financing day-to-day operations as well as to innovation-related investment projects, which means that suppliers of various products (from paper or toners through construction and installation materials, up to research infrastructure components) and services (administration, construction, installation, R&D) are being sought.

These entities are open to collaboration with businesses ranging in size and industry sector – both innovative start-ups and SME companies.

Businesses should establish cooperation with each of the institutions separately, yet the mechanisms behind this process are similar. Organisations have their own tender procedures, most often with a preference for companies based in their member countries. Most institutions have websites for entrepreneurs with detailed information regarding the terms and conditions of cooperation. The institutions run their own databases where vendors and calls for tenders are kept.


How businesses can profit from Big Science?

An entrepreneur interested in entering into cooperation with a Big Science institution should:

Step 1:
Get insight into the organisation’s profile and requirements

Each organisation has its own specific character, requirements and tender procedure, which have been discussed at length in separate articles. Read more about operation and terms of cooperation with:

Click on the name of organisation below and read:


Step 2: Register with vendor database of Big Science institutions

Registration with the vendor database of organisations related to Big Science is free of charge, open to public and provides many benefits. The companies that create their profiles in the database are given access to the information on valid requests for proposals/calls for tenders and the requirements reported by institutions. Some of the tender processes are run online. Register with:

CERN Data Base   ESO Data Base   F4E Data Base   ESS Data Base   ESA Data Base


Step 3: Submit proposals/bids in tender procedures

Big Science institutions cooperate with companies selected in the course of tender procedures or in response to RFPs (requests for proposals). The form of procedure depends on the value of the order. Organisations announce their current requirements on their websites.


Step 4: Contact the relevant ILO in case of doubts

Organisations related to Big Science develop a network of official representatives in their member countries. They are most often referred to as ILO (Industry Liaison Officers). They supervise the cooperation between Big Science institutions and business & industry. Companies may approach them with the aim of obtaining support in establishing contacts and participation in tender procedures they announce.

Read more: ILO’s contact info


Step 5: Profit from the transfer of funds from science to business

One of the objectives of Big Science institutions is to support economic growth not only by procuring products and services, but also through transferring innovative technology to the economy. Databases with Big Science technologies are the sources of solutions with a considerable potential for commercialisation.



Big Science and business meetings 

Vendor databases are not the only way to introduce oneself to a Big Science institution, the following are also recommended:

Visits of company representatives who may become their vendors

Such events provide an excellent opportunity for evaluating potential cooperation between the company and a scientific unit, which is fundamental when it comes to specialist technological issues. An ILO (Industry Liaison Officer) – who coordinate cooperation between businesses and Big Science entities – can help entrepreneurs arrange such a meeting. Their contact details can be found at Big Science websites or in the Contact tab at our website (for Poland).

Open and information days encouraging the cooperation between Bog Science organisations and businesses

Big Science institutions hold open events which are aimed at demonstrating business relationships and tender or bidding procedures. Business representatives have the opportunity to meet with administrative staff in a given organisation, but also with the employees of technical departments who are involved in selecting vendors and controlling collaboration, especially in the field of cutting-edge technologies (e.g. the production of components for R&D equipment). Up-to-date information on such events can be obtained from the institutions’ representatives in a given country.


You may need it – click and read more about:

Best practices for big science organisations and industrial suppliers

How to cooperate with F4E

Cooperation with CERN

ESS Guidelines for Suppliers ESS



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