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Big Science, Big Business

The Big Science market is huge and it’s only getting bigger.

Governments around the world are investing billions in Big Science projects, creating potentially profitable opportunities for thousands of businesses. But what is Big Science? And why should your company get involved?

What is Big Science?                                                 

Big. Little. What does it all mean?

‘Big Science’ refers to large-scale scientific research organisations intended to provide solutions to some of the world’s most challenging questions.

The research they carry out is far-reaching, with potential impacts on the future of humanity. They often occupy very large sites, populated with complicated instrumentation and machinery, which can be difficult and expensive to build. Because of the costs associated with them, they are often funded by a group of national governments or institutions working together towards shared scientific goals.                                             

In essence, Big Science is big research, with big goals, and big funding.

Is the UK involved?

Yes. The UK actively funds a number of Big Science organisations.

One of the most well-known is probably CERN, home of the Large Hardon Collider and where the Higgs Boson was discovered. However, there are many others.

To name just a few, there’s the European Southern Observatory, a group of astronomical telescopes; the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, a source of very bright X-ray light allowing researchers to study materials at an atomic level; and the Square Kilometre Array Observatory, which is an international project to build the world’s largest radio telescope.

All have large budgets and procure regularly.

Why should my company invest in Big Science?

Big Science isn’t just for scientists, it needs business too.

In the next four years alone (2021-25), an estimated £35billion of procurement and investment is planned, providing opportunities for thousands of suppliers across hundreds of industries. Requirements range from off-the-shelf goods, to services, to highly innovative items. From printer toner, to bespoke instrument components, Big Science needs to collaborate with businesses of all sizes – from start-ups, to SMEs, to multinationals - to ensure their research continues to provide solutions to some of our greatest problems.

It’s crucial, therefore, for UK industry to begin to realign, explore, and grow into this expanding market.

Who are STFC and how can they help?

The Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). UKRI brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK, and Research England, with a combined budget of nearly £8 billion. STFC not only delivers its own frontier research, but also manages access to Big Science organisations, both at home and abroad. This means that, as well as ensuring UK scientists can work with the best research facilities in the world, UK industry can supply them with products and services.

STFC’s Business Opportunities team acts as a bridge between Big Science organisations and UK industry. The team provides free assistance to UK businesses to help them hear about and participate in contracts issued by Big Science. Many Big Science organisations don’t advertise tenders publicly. Instead, they provide advance notice of large tenders to the STFC Business Opportunities team which are publicised to UK industry directly. In addition, the team also offers specialised advice, guidance, and support throughout your Big Science journey.

How do I engage with Big Science?

To learn more about how your business could expand into the Big Science market, explore our pages on the STFC website.

And to sign up to receive updates and Big Science tender notifications from the STFC Business Opportunities team, visit https://tenderopportunities.stfc.ac.uk/


For enquiries, please contact STFC Business Opportunities, tenderopportunities@stfc.ukri.org

Last updated: 12 July 2021


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