Doing Business with ESO
WORKING WITH INDUSTRY
ESO works with industry to carry out projects, build instruments and telescopes, like for instance the ELT, the world’s biggest telescope which is planned to become a reality in the next few years.
The collaboration between ESO and Industry aims at reaching the best possible results whilst at the same time maintaining the costs affordable. To select the most suitable suppliers to perform ESO’s projects, a procurement policy was developed, which is based on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, accountability, fairness, economy and efficiency.
The ESO financial rules are also part of the framework and they establish that the tendering process must be competitive where possible and carried out within the ESO Member States. Only in exceptional cases are Calls for tender, Price Inquiries and Preliminary Inquiries addressed at companies based in non-ESO Member States.
The potential participants in the competitive process are chosen usually via the ESO’s supplier database, the staff members’ knowledge, the information provided by the Industrail Liasion Officers, but are also selected based on interest expressed by themselves towards ESO.
At the end of the procedure a contract is awarded to the lowest priced technically and managerially compliant bidder.
WORKING WITH INSTITUTES
Sometimes, in particular when a project has a highly scientific scope, ESO seeks the cooperation of other scientific institutes within the Member States (only exceptionally outside the Member States). By scientific institutes we mean research institutes, universities, observatories, etc. , basically public no profit organizations. The peculiarity of this kind of cooperation, is that the cooperating institute (or consortium of institutes) does not receive any payment from ESO in exchange for the performed effort.
However, such institute is granted a certain amount of time of observation with ESO instruments and the amount of time of observation is proportional to the effort performed. These projects very often imply the purchase of hardware as well and the related expense can either be borne by ESO or shared with the institute.
When the institute participates in the expenses for the hardware it is entitled to additional time of observation, proportional to the contribution. The selection of the cooperating institute is typically run through a Call for proposals (which is often preceded by a Request for ideas) distributed among those institutes that are considered likely to be interested in and capable of carrying out the requested tasks.
These institutes are normally selected by ESO staff members based on their own experience and on the input received from the astronomers members of the Council. However, the process starts with the publication on ESO website of the forthcoming Request for ideas and Call for proposals (which includes a brief description of the scope of work), in order to give any interested institute the opportunity to contact ESO and request to be included in the relevant distribution list.