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.