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This chapter highlights the continued and growing interest of industry in the ESRF and its value in helping to drive forward new technologies and support the competitivity of enterprises.
The articles showcase some of the myriad ways in which industrial needs can be served by the ESRF s X-ray beamlines, from working towards higher performance batteries (page 148) and additive manufacturing of advanced structures (page 149) to understanding car components (page 150) and investigating residual stress impact on stability and function in high-power transistors (page 151), as well as helping rational drug design for osteoarthritis through protein crystal structures (page 152) or characterising semiconductors (page 153).
This is but a small taste of the wide and varied industrial and commercial applications of the ESRF s advanced X-ray beamlines, facilities and skills. Most of the work done by companies though paid-for access at the ESRF remains confidential.
Artificial intelligence and AI-driven chatbots are becoming the norm in our daily lives. It has become challenging to know if there is a real person on the end of the phone line or the other side of the computer interface. At research infrastructures like the ESRF, when we engage with industry, it is the personal contact, building mutual understanding and trust, which in turn creates the foundation of a working relationship with a company, whether the R&D problem or innovation challenge is large or small, whether the company is a start-up, an SME or a multinational household name. Our commercial programme, working with companies across Europe and the world, hinges upon real people. Our beamlines and facilities are among the best in the world, but it is the people running them, designing the technologies, and those working with our industrial user community on a daily basis that bring the ESRF alive and make the bridge towards industry work.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, returning to in- person meetings and face-to-face discussions makes this all the more real and evident. Of course, virtual meetings have changed the way we work reducing travel and enabling webinars and meetings that would otherwise not be possible. But nothing replaces human contact especially when trust and support is at the centre of building a working relationship.
During 2021, the Business Development Office (BDO) team were very fortunate, adding a permanent and highly capable business developer (Thanos Papazoglou) and an expert in dissemination and communications (Chiara Facoetti) to support our outreach particularly for European projects. This would not have been possible without the increased activity of the ESRF in European projects, where funding has helped to create both these positions and support for temporary missions, both in the BDO and wider ESRF. This funding is critical to allow us to explore new opportunities to work with industry in specific sectors, such as batteries, metallurgy and micro- and nano-technologies.
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