Doing Business with ESO
Working with Industry
ESO works with industry to carry out projects and to build instruments and telescopes, including the E-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 achieving the best possible results whilst at the same time maintaining the costs affordable. To select the most suitable suppliers to perform ESO’s projects, procurement rules and regulations and relevant policies are established and followed on the principles of public procurement, 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 usually chosen based on ESO’s supplier database, the staff members’ knowledge and information provided by the Industrial Liaison Officers, but are also selected based on the interest expressed by themselves towards ESO.
At the end of the procedure a contract is awarded to the lowest priced bidder that is technically and managerially compliant.
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 non-profit organisations. 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 an institute is granted a certain amount of observing time with ESO instruments and the amount of time 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.
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 scientific delegates of the Council.
However, the process starts with the publication on the 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 for participation in the call issued by ESO.