Testimonial from ENRIITC – a stepping stone to big science

Benny Björkander is the CEO of RFR Solutions AB, a manufacturer of stainless steel constructions located in Landskrona, Sweden. Benny’s background is in ABB Robotics and he was CEO of a company manufacturing temperature sensors. He attended the ENRIITC Pan-European partnering event at Big Science Sweden on 8 February 2021 and sat down with us to share his experience of the event and further impressions on ENRIITC.

Firstly, thank you for your time, Benny. Could you describe RFR Solutions as a company?

We are a small company of about 48 employees that exclusively specialises in stainless steel designs and focuses on doing that at a level with high requirements. RFR Solutions is a rather niche company working with advanced designs and bringing them through a complicated manufacturing process directly to the customer. We have customers from big science to medtech, nuclear and defense industry. Our company does not go after simple projects; we rather go for the ones with high requirements in variable aspects. We realised that is what we do best.

Let’s talk about the Pan-European partnering event. What were the biggest benefits of the event for you?

When I started at RFR Solutions, I had not really worked with big science before. The partnering event was great to learn more about the business side of big science. In my opinion, working in big science is quite different from other business to business: you have to have a good understanding of the system to be a successful part of it.

Did the event have any impact on your business?

ENRIITC did not have any direct impact on sales. However, ENRIITC acted as a stepping stone to get better acquainted with the organisations, ILOs, procurement procedures, contracts and collaborations. It’s a longer process to build relationships in our business. You have to do it the right way by sending the right people the right formats. I think it’s a big step for companies to enter big science market and this event certainly took us further.

I wouldn’t say that that event directly has given us business, but it has been an add-on of our network and the understanding which we can bring into the next event and the one after that is taking us a step further again. We are playing the long game.

Speaking of networking, did you meet any potential new collaborators at the event?

There were new faces and I had a few meetings. In the end, those meetings didn’t lead to any new projects at the moment, but as I mentioned before, it was a good introduction to the wider industry.

Overall, I like the one to one meetings model. They are quite an efficient way of finding people, getting to know them and building relationships. It was a good experience.

What are the gaps in the current landscape for companies like yours to have a need for a network like ENRIITC?

I think it’s a lot about education. One needs to learn how the big science world works, how it ticks, how to find people and all that. There is also a certain political aspect about it: how different countries organise their business and at times there are also public co-investors. This national level knowledge is very valuable. Without that we can aim to operate in big science but it would only remain a wish.

How do you think others can benefit from ENRIITC?

As I mentioned previously, I see education as something that would be a benefit. ENRIITC could be that one-stop-shop for education on protocols and contacts. For a smaller company like RFR Solutions, it would save quite a lot of resources if there was a well-functioning network. A central place to build relationships with multiple stakeholders.

Thank you, I think that is very helpful to know. Anything else you wish to add?

I would like to mention, that if I look at a company at our size and level, it is a bit risky to only rely on business in big science. At the same time, it offers great additional value in competence and reputation: who wouldn’t want CERN in their client list?

Testimonial from ENRIITC – help with industry network

Professor Beata Orlecka-Sikora works as the Director of the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Inspired by ENRIITC activities, Beata is developing a collaboration with industry.

Thanks for your time, Beata. Firstly, could you please tell us about your interactions with ENRIITC?

We are engaged in EPOS, the European Plate Observing System, which is a distributed research infrastructure that facilitates the integrated use of data, data products, and facilities from the solid Earth science community in Europe.

Information about the ENRIITC project came from the EPOS coordination unit. As we are responsible for developing collaborations with industry, the EPOS coordinator recommended that we contact the ENRIITC team at the beginning of the ENRIITC project. It was already known then that our paths would cross many times. We decided to develop a plan of cooperation with industry partners, and to propose to EPOS establishing the ICO.

What is EPOS?

EPOS is a young infrastructure at an early stage of development looking for solutions to develop cooperation with industry. Inspired by ENRIITC we developed three recommendations:

  • RECOMMENDATION 1. to establish an ICO at the ERIC level. This recommendation was drawn after reading ENRIITC deliverables. The value of the infrastructure is the interdisciplinarity and integrated nature of the data. We know that an industrial partner is interested in them.
  • RECOMMENDATION 2. To establish an Innovation Advisory Board including industry members, to advise on the strategy and implementation of the interaction with the private sector.
  • RECOMMENDATION 3. We need to develop a system of user registration. Without this, we will not be able to monitor our successes. EPOS is open, and a large proportion of EPOS users do not want to register. They demand additional functions, such as free working space, to register.

What is the model of collaborating with EPOS?

We have 3 full models:

  1. User: we have an open data policy. The main data user is the scientist. It is very hard for a company to get acquainted with knowledge. The industrial partner, therefore, buys data and tailored data products from the agency for example an institution that is involved in the EPOS project.
  2. Supplier: we are a thematic portal, so we post seismicity data, geological information about where seismicity occurred, and technological information about why it happened. We convinced industrial and institutional partners to provide data that is still suitable for research: private GMS networks, satellite data, and surface deformations, geodetic data.
  3. Co-creator: it usually happens when applying for EU funds with industry components. For example, we performed a project with an industrial partner that allowed us to integrate seismic data at the national level. We also have laboratories where you can test equipment, which both an industrial partner and a scientist can benefit from.

What does the future of EPOS look like?

EPOS has a unique situation to be a relevant player in finding ground-breaking solutions for pressing the global challenges in Earth Sciences. We are now in the energy transition,  much attention is paid to climate change and we need to approach it appropriately. We need to define the access to data:

  • open data, challenging to interpret and obtain
  • in cooperation with experts affiliated with EPOS.

We need to combine fundamental science with the industry component. We find collaboration with the private sector as a very important driver of innovation which may attract young people. EPOS needs a new generation of developers.





Testimonial from ENRIITC – supported growth of international ILO network

Jose Antao is the Portuguese Industrial Liaison Officer for CERN, ITER and ESRF. Previously a delegate at ESFRI, ERIC Committee and the Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructures Committee, he now works closely with a number of companies in the Big Science market. Jose kindly agreed to tell us about the impact that the ENRIITC project has had for him.

Thanks for your time, Jose. Firstly, could you describe your interaction with ENRIITC?

My interaction was not extensive, but significant. The majority of ENRIITC activities were completed during the pandemic, so most project workshops and coffee meetings were organised virtually. I participated in a number of them.

What did ENRIITC bring you? What impact has the project had for you?

I would split the impact into 3 broad areas:

  1. Industrial Liaison Officers from different countries and for different infrastructures had the chance to meet, interact and learn from each other. In a time of pandemic-driven distancing, it was actually possible to be closer to some of these colleagues.
  2. ENRIITC focused broadly on Research Infrastructures, and not only on Big Science organizations, with which I work directly. It was interesting to hear about different realities and put the expectations from each actor in perspective.
  3. I could meet several Industry Contact Officers from organizations I don’t usually work with. It was good to sit at the same table and associate their names and faces to the organizations they serve. I believe several new ILO-ICO connections were made, which will strengthen the European industrial ecosystem around Research Infrastructures.

ENRIITC provided knowledge on how the systems of ILOs and ICOs is organised. I would be happy if, thanks to my engagement, companies I collaborate with get more contracts and Research Infrastructures find new suppliers to support their mission.

How do you think others can benefit from ENRIITC?

The lowest-hanging fruit is for ILOs and ICOs from Big Science organisations to pick. They have more similar interests and it will be easier to adopt practices and merge/enlarge the networks.

But the ENRIITC consortium is very diverse, and dividends will not be as obvious or immediate to non-Physics organisations in it.

The bright side is that the network is alive and people seem eager to continue working together. On every side, there is increased awareness of problems and possible solutions around the industrial relationships with Research Infrastructures. And a set of familiar faces to continue tackling those challenges together.

Which activity was most inspiring for you?

I really enjoyed the regular #ENRIITCyourCoffee sessions. ENRIITC filled the gap in the pandemic, providing a platform for us to have discussions and share best practices.

Great – thanks again for your time, Jose.

ENRIITC & CERIC ERIC @BSBF2022 “Research Infrastructures’ Visibility and Potential towards Industry”

This meeting was co-organised by ENRIITC and CERIC ERIC and was held on 4 October 2022 as a satellite meeting to the Big Science Business Forum 2022 (4-7 October 2022, Granada ES), and brought together 60 participants.

The overall purpose of the meeting was to bring together the industry liaison officers and contact officers that make up the ENRIITC network for training and workshop sessions on strengthening the collaboration of the two professions and increasing the visibility and potential of RIs towards industry.

In the picture from left to right, Anne Charlotte Joubert – European Spallation Source & Angela Zennaro – CERIC-ERIC.


The meeting was split into three sessions:

  • Session 1: Training for ICOs and ILOs: “How to better communicate RIs’ value to industry and how to better relate to it”
  • Session 2: The 2nd ENRIITC Networking Meeting: “Towards a sustainable platform to support RI-industry engagement in the new ERA”
  • Session 3a: ICO Training Session: “Analytical services opportunities and experience”
  • Session 3b: ICO Training Session: “Technology /knowledge transfer opportunities and experience”

The full event report, including programme with speakers, can be viewed here:


ENRIITC & CzechInvest workshop: Infrastructures and Industry Engagement – Enabling European Innovation

The ENRIITC & CzechInvest workshop was a fantastic opportunity to discuss research infrastructure perspectives when engaging with industry as a supplier, user and collaborator. Speakers and panelists together with the 70 onsite and online participants exchanged on their experience, highlighting the importance of RI-industry partnerships for stronger scientific discovery, faster technological development and higher societal impact.

The event was jointly organised by the EU-funded ENRIITC project, aiming at strengthening the relationship between RIs and industry, and CzechInvest, the national business development and investment promotion agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Czech Republic thus giving a strong message on the importance of RI-industry collaboration to support European Research and Innovation.

Anne-Charlotte Joubert, the ENRITTC project coordinator, EU funding expert and grant officer at European Spallation Source introduced the ENRIITC project and its goal to build a permanent pan-European network of Industrial Liaison and Contact Officers (ILOs and ICOs) which supports industry to become a fuller partner of research infrastructures whether as a user, a supplier, or a co-creator.

She also presented one of the outputs of the project, a set of case studies on collaboration between research infrastructures and industrial companies.

Concluding on the importance of a platform like ENRIITC, she highlighted its importance to engage with the broad range of key stakeholders linked to the RI-industry community, thus supporting the European research and innovation ecosystem.

René Samek, a specialist in innovation infrastructures from CzechInvest, presented the environment for research, development and innovation in the Czech Republic and invited the participants to have a look at an exhibition of products of Czech startups from the ESA BIC incubator which CzechInvests runs in Prague and Brno.

Aleš Hála from the European research infrastructure ELI Beamlines headquartered near Prague presented how this laser research centre cooperates with industrial companies and how it offers the results of its research.

Representatives of two Czech companies, DEL (which supplies 3D models and equipment for hot chambers to the Jules Horowitz Reactor in France) and Vakuum Praha (which supplies vacuum chambers to, for example, CERN, ETH and ELI Beamlines) showed how they attracted the attention of these international research infrastructures and became their technology suppliers.

A lively discussion of representatives of five research infrastructures, moderated by Edward Mitchell, Head of Business Development from The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF).

Participants from European research infrastructures (Director General of EMSO, Juanjo Dañobeitia, Executive Director of CLARIN-ERIC Franciska de Jong, In-kind Procurement Adviser and Industry Contact Officer at GSI-FAIR, Sonia Utermann), national funding agencies (programme Manager at the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, Maria Öhman), national business and investment agencies (specialist in innovation infrastructures at CzechInvest, Rene Samek) debated industry engagement models, with their advantages, their challenges, and looking at the drivers and solutions to bridge the gap from RIs to industry, and industry to RIs. The variety of the panelists coming from different horizons and scientific domains, brought a broad vision on the opportunity of collaboration and demonstrated that once the barriers are lowered RI-industry engagement can bring in many benefits both to the RI or the industry themselves, but also to wider society.

Successful Industrial case studies – Vinnova

Vinnova is the Swedish Energy Agency and Formas which finances 17 strategic innovation programs, for collaboration in research and innovation in areas that are important to Sweden.

The investment in strategic innovation programs has contributed to sustainable growth, strengthened competitiveness and to Sweden being an attractive country to invest and conduct activities in.

This shows an evaluation of the first five programs nine years after the start. A majority of the companies that participated state that they have become better at innovation collaborations both with other companies and with universities and research institutes.

Here below, 80 great examples of the successful results of collaborations between RIs and industry and their purpose can be found!

Testimonial from ENRIITC – an inspiration to build a unique network

Dr Sonia Utermann works as the In-kind procurement and Industry Contact Officer at FAIR (the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) in Darmstadt, Germany. Inspired by ENRIITC activities, Sonia built a national ILO network in FAIR. Sonia kindly agreed to an interview with Sylwia Justyna Wojtowicz from the ENRIITC consortium.

Thanks for your time, Sonia. Firstly, please could you tell us about your interaction with ENRIITC?

I was involved in the ENRIITC project since the very beginning. I had noticed that FAIR could do a lot more to support companies from our shareholders’ countries. And because I didn’t know how to do that I had to find people that had this knowledge. The timing of ENRIITC was perfect, I had just started and was seeking knowledge and good practices.

Please can you tell us how the system of industry liaison works at FAIR?

We are actively working with companies. Germany cannot build FAIR alone, we need all of our shareholders involved in a system that would allow us to develop knowledge, give us support for the running costs and enable exchange of staff. FAIR shareholders are actually our partners. Regardless of how big the share is, every partner has an equal vote (Germany owns 70% of all shares and 1 vote, equally with countries owning only 1% of shares).

Is there a mechanism for geo-return in FAIR?

We are not an international organisation so we must obey German procurement law. We do not have a principal system of geo-return. We need to rely on the relation system with our partners and build an inside mechanism of support. We are making an effort to support small investors, who invest a significant budget in FAIR. We try to find industrial partners and human resources in those countries.

How can companies apply?

FAIR is accessible to any company, it is an open procedure. We use the EU or the German tender platform, but we ensure as much communication as possible is in English. If a company needs more time, we can grant it. Most tender specifications are in English. Also we prepared a step-by-step guide to the German tender platform for companies. Moreover, if a company contacts me, I will help them find opportunities at FAIR, not only in procurement but also in technology transfer and R&D projects.

How has ENRIITC helped you in your work?

For the very first time, I met people that were doing the same job. It was perfect timing as I was a curious beginner looking for information, and I found a lot of it in ENRIITC. I was inspired by the brokerage events, coffee meetings and discussion. I would say that I was a student and am now a graduate from the ENRIITC project!

ENRIITC taught me what the job of an ILO and ICO is, and how they do their job. The project inspired me to build a unique ILO network at FAIR. It started as a small system of communication and improvements and now is an official system of ILOs from shareholders countries, approved by the FAIR Council. Also, we are connecting with ILO networks from countries that are not shareholders of FAIR, using the ENRIITC community.

MoU: Let’s build the future of ENRIITC together!

After almost three years, the ENRIITC project will soon complete its first chapter and reach its formal end date. We see this as the exciting beginning to a new chapter for ENRIITC that we are looking forward to writing with you!

We are currently preparing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This non-legally binding agreement will signify an intention to work together towards the establishment of a sustainable framework to support and foster RI-industry engagement.

A MoU sets an official framework during the Transition Phase of the ENRIITC Network starting 1 January 2023 where the signatories will undertake the responsibility to support the activities of the ENRIITC Network according to an annual plan that will be proposed by the ENRIITC Network Steering Board.

The MoU is open for signature to large-scale pan-European Research Infrastructures willing to work together to set-up and strengthen their relationship with industry, and also to Industry Liaison Officer representatives.

If you are interested in being part of the ENRIITC network, please email us so that we can keep you updated with our work in this area – enriitc@ess.eu

We look forward to building the future of ENRIITC together!

Testimonial from ENRIITC – supported ESO Instruments Industry event

Hans Priem is Business Manager at VDL, an international industrial and manufacturing conglomerate with headquarters in the Netherlands. He attended the ESO “Instruments Industry” event on 7 April 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, that was supported by ENRIITC. Hans kindly agreed to talk to us about his attendance at the event.

Thanks for your time, Hans. Firstly, what did you get out of attending the ESO “Instruments Industry” event in April?

The event was very useful for receiving targeted updates on what is going on in the field and also as a networking opportunity.

Did the event have any impact on your business?

Yes, the event did have an impact on my business in general. Not financially per se, but it was very useful to have an update on the scientific instruments, and helpful in terms of our assessment as to whether we could have added value in the field. It was also informative to see what was going on in a specific project and organization. This type of event is important for us to make informed choices; they’re also great for building international contacts.

What is the potential impact of this event on your business?

The impact of this event was that we gained access, or have more secured access, to relevant technology. Additionally, we were able to grow our network of potential collaborators.

Speaking of collaborators, did you meet any potential new ones at the event?

Yes, the ENRIITC event helped facilitate initial contact with other companies and national entities so that we could network and discuss future business opportunities. It is possible that I will do business with these new relations, possibly in the form of working with them in a consortium. As with all new partnerships, it takes time to get to know each other and build trust, but these sorts of ENRIITC events are great for networking before initiating collaborations, like setting up a consortium.

Great – thanks again for your time, Hans.

Thank you.

ForMAX: the new research station for research on sustainable materials from the forest

ForMAX, a new, unique research station for studies of sustainable materials from the forest using synchrotron X-ray light, is now opening for next-generation research experiments at MAX IV in Sweden. There is great interest in the new beamline from both industry and academia.

ForMAX is specially designed for advanced studies on materials from the forest and is an initiative of several major players who have joined forces. The research station consists of a beamline where synchrotron X-ray light will be used to study the materials at the nano level up to the millimeter level.

ForMAX will be very important for the fundamental academic research that is conducted on wood-based materials, which is the basis for the material applications that can then be developed”, says Eva Malmström Jonsson, director of the Wallenberg Wood Science Center, WWSC.

The construction of the beamline has been funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the operating costs are funded by the industry through Treesearch, a Swedish collaborative platform for academic and industrial research in new materials from the forest.

One goal of the investment is to be able to develop new products from materials from the forest that can, among other things, replace today’s plastic products.

“Through the engagement in ForMAX, academia and industry have a fantastic access point to the MAX IV research environment. Through ForMAX, we are laying the foundation for broad, unique competence that enables ground-breaking research within the field”, says Daniel Söderberg, director of Treesearch.

ForMAX is part of the MAX IV research facility in Lund, where the world’s strongest X-ray light for advanced research is produced. The first experiments at ForMAX are performed by market-leading industry companies, including Tetra Pak, and researchers from the Wallenberg Wood Science Center.

Read more here!