To provide pragmatic feedback, a joint CALIPSO-NMI3 Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) of some 12 representatives from industry, both large and small, was created. The goal of this joint advisory group was to provide feedback, advice and input, which is otherwise usually extremely limited.
The ELSII budget allowed two meetings of the IAB to be held with the industry and business representatives of the European light, neutron and muon facilities. These meetings also enabled networking amongst the facility industry and business liaison officers, in many cases for the first time. The first meeting focussed on how far can and should the RIs go in providing a full service, especially in view of the growing panorama of capable facilitating companies with entrepreneurs providing bridges between RI and industry clients. In a second meeting, the IAB and RIs focussed on the Innovation Campuses that analytical RIs, like the light and neutron sources, are increasingly often based upon or the Campuses are being constructed organically around the existing RI. These Campuses are often levers that the RIs can use to better work with industry and have support with links to Regional and National knowledge/industry networks.
The participants of the joint CALIPSO-NMI3 IAB have been all highly motivated to provide advice and insight. It is hoped that the team can continue to meet using NMI3 support in the short term, and institute support in the medium term. All of the members are enthusiastic to continue in their role. The CALIPSO and ELSII Coordinators gratefully acknowledge and thank the IAB participants for their enthusiastic work and valuable feedback during the project.
The IAB raised a number of major points and which could be/should be addressed by RIs to provide a high quality access, service and collaboration for and with industry which are listed below. The IAB members have proposed to publish their overall view and feedback in a refereed scientific journal. This paper is under drafting as CALIPSO reaches its end, but is expected to be published before the NMI3 project is completed.
Access to research infrastructures
· Specific beam time slots could be kept for industry to allow a rapid access meeting industry needs.
· Understaffed beam lines are not acceptable in an industrial context. It is essential that the customer can reach the beam line scientist whenever there are any questions, and that results are delivered on time and on budget.
Cost/benefit - Communication of techniques
· The cost of beam time is often highlighted as a hurdle for Industry, but what really matters is the cost-benefit ratio. Consequently, benefits need to be clearly communicated in a form that is appealing (and comprehensible!) to industry. The RIs therefore need to market and communicate on their services (and openness to industry) if they want to attract industry. For instance, this means that web pages need to be tailored to cater to industry’s need for information.
· “Scientific translation” is a two-way process. It is necessary for scientific RI staff to successfully translate new scientific opportunities to a language that make the opportunities understandable and appeal to industry. However, it is also highly beneficial if industry demonstrates that many of its challenges contain a core of interesting and challenging science.
Service / Collaboration / Training of industry staff
· Whenever possible for practical reasons and necessary for scientific reasons, industry should have the option to purchase beam time along with a skilled beam line scientist.
· The increased industrial focus on precompetitive collaboration opens new possibilities to build industrial-academic consortia around scientific areas of interest to several partners. This distributes costs to address unfavourable cost-benefit ratios.
· Poor or non-existent harmonisation of software is a concern. Data processing software (in particular on-the-fly processing of raw data) should be user-friendly, standardised and transparent in order to benefit (often standard) industrial use, whereas this aspect is far less critical for software used for further, more complex and specialised, data analysis.
Accurateness and timeliness vs publishable science
· Validation of experimental methods and techniques is not always strictly necessary for industrial use. This is particularly true for methods designed to provide scientific understanding (rather than actual testing and analytical work). Increasing industrial focus on quality by design (rather than quality by inspection) increases interest of non-validated and more explorative methods.
· Accreditation of RIs is an absolute prerequisite in order to allow regulated industries to use RIs for regular and actual testing. Today, no neutron facility in the world has the necessary accreditation. Accreditation may serve as a shared objective of future RI-IAB collaboration.
Incentive for instrument scientists/ group – Management issues
· Part of the income from industrial projects should go back to the instrument or beamline for their scientific use, rather than all being put into a general overhead account. This would create incentives for the beamline team to spend time and effort on industrial projects.