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Media Corner
30 September 2013

Are you ready to tap into ITER’s business opportunities?

Company representatives exchanging contacts during the IBF business meetings

ITER is often described as the biggest international research collaboration in the field of energy bringing together half of the world’s population and 80% of the global GDP. A complex and ambitious project pushing our imagination to its limits and inviting us to explore if fusion energy can be a viable energy source in tomorrow’s energy mix.

To reach the holy grail of energy, as some have called fusion, scientists and engineers need to work hand in hand with industry and SMEs to manufacture the ITER components and develop the necessary appetite and expertise to invest in fusion technology.
In 2012 the value of the energy sector was is in the range of $6 trillion. Currently, in the EU the energy sector exceeds a turnover of about 885 billion EUR and keeps more than 22,000 enterprises afloat, which employ over 1.2 million people. The business potential of the energy market is vast and the opportunity for growth is clear.

So how is ITER unlocking Europe’s business potential?
To answer this question we traveled to five countries and interviewed 14 representatives from industry and SMEs, laboratories and senior policy figures from the fusion community. We asked them to describe the potential they see in ITER and the direct benefits stemming from Europe’s participation to the project.
Professor Henrik Bindslev, F4E’s Director, set the tone by describing the unique character of the project and the spillover effects spreading into the areas of knowledge, jobs and growth. Similarly, Professor Osamu Motojima, Director General of ITER International Organization, elaborated on the new technologies that industry would acquire through its participation and the expertise that future generations of scientists will develop through their involvement.

In our first clip we interviewed the Industry Liaison Officers, the business satellites of the ITER project in each European country, and asked them to give a their opinion on the business potential of the project. Their message was strong and clear: ITER means business opportunities and Europe’s industry should grab the opportunity to be involved.

Sue O’Neill, Ireland’s ILO, highlighted the growing potential of fusion industry and Dan Mistry, UK ILO, brought fusion a step closer to the market by reminding companies of the opportunities in the field of conventional engineering. The scale of the project requires the contribution and collaboration of many sectors. Sabine Portier, French ILO, explained that “ITER offers the possibility to build business partnerships” which will pave the way to new markets. Industry and SMEs from different countries have to learn to form consortia and compete in order to deliver high-end components at a competitive rate. Kurt Ebbinghaus argued that “a project like ITER will improve the capability of industry in terms of engineering and fabrication […] and create spin-offs for other business.” Søren Bang Korsholm, Denmark’s ILO, encouraged industry and SMEs to see themselves as legitimate partners in this project, a thought which was shared by Christian Dierick, Belgium’s ILO, who stated that “ITER is not a project only for big players.”

In the second clip, business representatives had the opportunity to express their views on the direct economic benefits stemming from their participation to ITER. Dr. Michael Peiniger, Research Instruments, explained how cutting edge requirements pushed companies a step further. Similarly, Paolo Bonifazi, Walter Tosto, called ITER “the booster” which accelerated the pace of progress in his company. From SENER, Maria Rosa Sacristian, stressed the multi-disciplinary character of the project and the way it has helped companies to identify new markets. Jean-Claude Cercassi, CNIM, elaborated on the “new processes, jobs and growth” that have been created together with the development of new tooling which will prove useful in other operations. Aldo Pizzuto, ENEA, highlighted the role of fusion laboratories in the project and their capacity to generate new technologies that are not yet available to industry. Linda Hedegaard, Site Facility, saw plenty of opportunities for SMEs too through their participation as subcontractors in large contracts. The successful partnership between small and large players was also addressed by Maria Teresa Domiguez, Empresarios Agrupados, who acknowledged that thanks to ITER this new international way of doing business emerged in this field of energy.

Click on the two clips to watch the interviews in their entirety.
Visit the F4E YouTube channel to view more clips.