European X-ray Free Electron Laser is the most powerful research device of this type in the world. This is the most advanced tunable laser source of strong X-ray radiation. This international research project, initiated in 2009 (when the German Ministry of Education and Research issued permission to build the laser) at the DESY Research Center (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) in Hamburg, today brings together scientists, researchers and engineers from around the world, including Poland.
The European XFEL is organised as a limited liability company and operates according to German law (GmbH) as a non-profit organisation co-created by international shareholders. They were nominated by the authorities of the countries that were involved in creating and supporting the activities of European XFEL. In the activities of the XFEL Poland is represented by the National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ), which is one of the largest research institutes in Poland, featuring, among others, one of the two large research infrastructures in Poland − Maria nuclear research reactor.
The functioning of European XFEL GmbH, although operating on a non-profit basis, involves the use of a huge operational budget (approx. EUR 117 million per year), which may reach the domestic industry in the form of orders. In the Polish high-tech sector there are companies which successfully executed orders for the organisation, already at the stage of construction of the research infrastructure. An example is the consortium with Wrocław Technology Park as the leader, the National Center for Nuclear Research as the shareholder, and Kriosystemem and Kates Sp. z o.o. from Olsztyn, and Wroclaw University of Technology, Department of Cryogenics as the contractors. The European XFEL project will be constantly developed. Plans for the future along with the needs arising from the operation of the laser generate a series of orders that may be also implemented by Polish companies and institutions. The annual value of the contracts concluded by European XFEL is approx. EUR 40 million.
Orders from European XFEL GmbH are granted pursuant to the German and EU law on public procurement. All requests for proposal, the value of which exceeds the thresholds set out in the EU law, are referred to as EU-wide tenders (over EUR 209,000 for products and services, and more than EUR 5,225,000 for construction work) and published on the website Tenders Electronic Daily (TED). RFPs concerning orders below this amount are published on the national (federal) website Bundesanzeiger. Announcements can also be found on the website of the XFEL.
The relationship between the European XFEL and industry is managed by the Industrial Liaison Office of the company. Its role is to find high-tech suppliers for this Big Science centre, to involve European industry in exploiting the potential of the XFEL, but also to coordinate the process of patent and license creation based on the results of research carried out in the centre. It also supports the creation of startups using technologies from European XFEL and the process of knowledge transfer to companies and institutions from the countries that co-founded it.