The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is the world’s most intense X-ray source and is located in Grenoble, France. The ESRF has an annual procurement budget in the region of €50 million and is situated on the same site as the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL). There are many opportunities for UK companies to supply the ESRF, with requirements in instrumentation, mechanical engineering, cryogenics, vacuum equipment, optics and electrical engineering among others.
As the UK is one of the 22 partner countries that fund the ESRF, the ESRF tries to assist the UK in achieving a fair return on its investment through contracts placed with UK companies. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) manages the subscription costs for the UK and as part of this the STFC Business Opportunities team acts as the industrial liaison office for the UK. The team supports UK companies who are interested in working with the ESRF.
How to access opportunities at the ESRF
Selection of companies
The ESRF is not subject to public procurement rules, and opportunities are not advertised openly.
ESRF technical and purchasing staff will propose suppliers for all opportunities, and it is therefore important for UK companies to build relationships with the technical and purchasing staff at ESRF. The STFC Business Opportunities team can assist with this (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The industrial liaison officers for each member state can also put forward additional companies to the ESRF. The STFC Business Opportunities team is the UK’s industrial liaison office for the UK, and opportunities are advertised via STFC’s Business Opportunities service. To receive opportunities by sector please register here.
The procurement process
Calls for tender
The ESRF provides pre-notifications of upcoming calls for tender valued over €50,000 to the industrial liaison officers appointed by each partner country. The industrial liaison officers are provided with a very brief description of the upcoming requirement and have around four weeks to propose additional companies from their country ahead of the call for tender. Only the industrial liaison officers can suggest additional companies; companies cannot propose themselves.
The industrial liaison officers add companies to the tender list via the ESRF Call for Tender Management Portal. If your company is added to the portal, you will receive an email notification confirming this.
You need to register with the STFC Tender Opportunities service to be informed of these opportunities.
When the call for tender is released, the company will be notified and given instructions on how to log into the portal to access the tender documentation. The deadline for companies to submit a bid is usually about four weeks from when the tender is released; the deadline will be detailed on the portal. You must submit the information in the correct way, as stipulated in the documentation.
If your firm is selected but you will not be bidding, please inform ESRF of your decision via the portal, as this will help to ensure you are invited for future tenders.
Contracts are usually awarded on the basis of best value for money. ESRF will consider extras over and above what they have requested; these extras will be assessed as part of your bid and against what other companies have offered.
Assessment of tenders over €300,000
Tenders over €300,000 are assessed via a double envelope procedure so make sure you upload your commercial and administrative document separate to the technical documents on the web application.
The double envelope procedure is based on two separate tender boards taking place, one for the technical evaluation (TB1) and the other for the commercial evaluation (TB2). For TB1, the technical team evaluates, compares and ranks the conforming offers according to an evaluation grid, and prepares a memo to be passed to TB2. Similarly, TB2 evaluates, compares and ranks the technically compliant offers according to the same evaluation grid, and adds to the memo which is then finalised and passed on to the Tender Commission. The Tender Commission provides a recommendation for a supplier based on the findings of the TBs which is submitted to the director general for approval using the best value for money principle.
Tips for bidding at the ESRF
If you’re not sure, ask (STFC or ESRF). Do not make assumptions about what the ESRF is asking for – ask. Contact details for questions on technical aspects are included in the cover letter of the tender documents.
Contracts are awarded on the basis of best value for money.
ESRF will consider extras over and above what they have requested; these extras will be assessed as part of your bid and against what other companies have offered.
Country of origin: please complete the table provided by the ESRF including all elements of added value (materials, components, manufacture, assembly etc.) that make up at least 10% of the total. If it is not possible to detail the origin of your products, just fill in the table according to the location of your company’s headquarters.
Be prepared to make a competitive bid. All tender documents should be available in English.
Tender documents are available on the ESRF web application. If invited to tender, you should receive instructions via email on how to access the documents. You will be required to register.
Make sure you complete all documents and double check the number of references required.
Ensure you submit the information in the correct way as stipulated in the documentation.
Tenders over €300,000 are assessed via a double envelope procedure: make sure you upload your commercial and administrative document separately to the technical documents on the web application.
Respect the deadlines set in the cover letter and the web application.
A decline is better than no response if you do not wish to bid; this will help to ensure you are invited for future tenders. You must decline via the web application and not via email.
For information about ESRF bids
UK Industrial Liaison Officer for ESRF
Contacts at ESRF
Help and advice on exporting
Last updated: 23 February 2023