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Media Corner
03 April 2019

IBF 2019 – 1100 business speed dates in search of commercial romance

A delegation of politicians from the regional French authorities; J. Vayron, Director of Agence ITER France; G. Thomas, Deputy Director-General, DG Energy, European Commission; J. Schwemmer, F4E Director; B. Bigot, ITER Organization Director-General welcomed by B. Blanc, Assystem, at the company’s stand. ITER Business Forum 2019, Antibes, Juan les Pins, France.

Towards the end of last year the ITER project reached a 60% completion of its construction milestones. To those already involved in the project the figure pays testament to their hard work and contribution to one of the most complex technology experiments to date. To others, wishing to be part of this one-of-a-kind mission bringing fusion energy a step closer, it may look as if there is little left to be done. The bi-annual ITER Business Forum (IBF) had something for all: acknowledgment for the impressive progress we have made so far and a line-up of interesting business prospects for what needs to be done in future.

Participants during the plenary session, ITER Business Forum 2019, Antibes, Juan les Pins, France.

For years Agence ITER France (AIF) has been the driving force behind this event. It relies on a successful recipe which combines intense networking, B2B meetings, speeches by key ITER personalities and social events in the south of France. Frankly, few events can fuse all elements together in such way. Under the guidance of Sabine Portier, France’s ITER Industry Liaison Officer, and Philippe Olivier, France’s Deputy ITER Industry Liaison Officer, a team of people has been working round the clock for nearly five months to make this happen. This year’s edition left all participants impressed by bringing together nearly 500 companies from all over the world keen to unleash their business potential. The speed dating business platform registered 1100 appointments with an immediate 25% confirmation rate beating all previous records. A total of 80 companies and laboratories booked space in the exhibition to showcase their expertise and schmooze potential partners to seal lucrative deals.

L. Schmieder, F4E’s Project Manager for Buildings, Infrastructure and Power Supplies, during a B2B meeting with companies, ITER Business Forum 2019, Antibes, Juan les Pins, France.

A progress of the state of play was given by ITER Organization and the seven Parties. The Director of F4E, Johannes Schwemmer, summed up the win-win relationship between ITER and Europe’s economy by informing the audience that during 2008-2018 a total 40 000 job years was created. The F4E 2018 Highlights were released at the event offering the latest key figures and a summary of the latest achievements. Parallel to this, a brand new F4E brochure presenting a selection of successful partnerships with industry and laboratories was also unveiled at IBF 2019 to make the case of the mutual benefits. Gerassimos Thomas, the European Commission’s Deputy Director-General for Energy, explained how fusion could be in the long run part of the sustainable energy mix and encouraged attendees to “paint a new future and sustain this level of progress.” China impressed the crowds with its steadfast commitment to push ahead with its CFETR machine, whose design is expected to be completed by 2020, in order to succeed ITER. Bernard Bigot, Director-General of ITER Organization, reminded all participants of the duty we all have to make this partnership work regardless of the size of the contribution we make.

(L-R) Representatives from the regional French authorities, J. Vayron, Director of Agence ITER France; B. Bigot, ITER Organization Director General; G. Thomas, Deputy Director-General, DG Energy, European Commission; J. Schwemmer, F4E Director, during the press conference at the ITER Business Forum 2019, Antibes, Juan les Pins, France.

ITER Liaison Officers chaired a total of 16 workshops addressing different technologies, offering an overview of the progress and of any expertise in need. The packed sessions were complemented by a special programme offering visits on the ITER site, THALES ALENIA SPACE, Soditech, Sophia Antipolis or the Eco-Valley. For Jacques Vayron, Director of Agence ITER France, this was an event celebrating innovation and the commercial benefits attached. “Everyone stands a chance! IBF gives you the keys to understanding and better preparing your case for the project.” This year’s forum confirmed his words.

F4E representatives at the corporate stand, ITER Business Forum 2019, Antibes, Juan les Pins, France. (L-R): B. Perier, V. Saez, G. Saibene, L. Biagioni, G. Leidenfrost, N. Van de Ven.