Industry and large-scale research facilities often collaborate. Whilst, on the one hand, research facilities rely on supplier companies to provide components for their research instruments, industry, on the other hand, conducts experiments in research facilities to develop new products. There is much to learn from exploring the existing collaboration. In this perspective NMI3 has launched an initiative to examine the interaction between industry and neutron and muon facilities. The aim of this initiative is to identify aspects that could be enhanced in the forthcoming Horizon 2020 programme .
Industry as a Supplier and as a User
We are looking to this interaction from two different perspectives. We started by organising an Industry as a supplier workshop at the International Conference on Neutron Scattering in Edinburgh in July 2013. The workshop brought around 50 participants together: industrial suppliers of key equipment for neutron and muon instruments, procurement officers from the facilities, and facility scientists who use the equipment supplied. Representatives from each side of the spectrum shared their experience of collaboration with each other. Most presenters highlighted the importance of starting collaboration between suppliers and facilities at the very beginning of the project, ensuring common understanding and commitment by all involved. Overall, the participants concluded that it would be advantageous to develop roadmaps for the existing technology and create a central procurement & tendering platform.
The second step of this initiative will be a two-stage event that will focus on 'Industry as a user'. Neutron scattering and muon spectroscopy are becoming key techniques in the innovation cycle in the European Research Area. However industrial users largely under-exploit the possibility of access to public research facilities. Moreover the academic and industrial communities have different and, sometimes, contrary needs. For instance, industry may require the analysis of a larger amount of samples and immediately exploitable results than the academic community does.
This two-stage event for ‘Industry as a user’ is being organised together with the synchrotron consortium CALIPSO. CALIPSO and NMI3 have decided to join efforts because they offer valuable complementary research techniques to industry. The projects have together selected seven experts to constitute the Industry Advisory Board (IAB). The IAB will meet with facilities’ business development officers on the 3rd and 4th of December to define how industry could make better use of neutron, muon and X-ray facilities. The ultimate aim of this meeting is to organise an EU-wide ‘Industry as a user’ workshop in the autumn of 2014 at the European Photon & Neutron science campus in Grenoble to explore these issues.
The way forward
Both industrial suppliers and users, and the research facilities would benefit from standardised collaboration procedures. NMI3 hopes that this initiative will contribute to progress in this direction. If you are interested in knowing more and/or in participating in the ‘Industry as a user’ workshop in Grenoble, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a more complete review of our industry events, please have a look at the next issue of Notiziario – Neutroni e Luce di Sincrotrone.
Thanks to the ILL translation office.