To do business with ITER, Toulon was the place to be

Panjawani Rajkumar, the vice president of cryogenic system specialist INOX CVA, came all the way to Toulon, France from Vadodara in the Indian state of Gujarat. His company is in the process of bidding for an ITER contract and what he was looking for last week, at the ITER Business Forum, was a partner company, or companies, to complement his tender offer.

If INOX CVA wins the contract it will need to team up with a company that will install its workshop on, or close to, the ITER platform. It will also need a partner to enforce quality control and on-site safety. „If we get the contract, we will be working under French regulation. Rather than training Indian personnel, it is more efficient to have a partnership with a French company that is familiar with national practices and regulation.”

Panjawani Rajkumar was one of 718 participants (from 386 companies, universities or research institutions) from 24 countries that attended the third ITER Business Forum held on 21-22 March in the Mediterranean port of Toulon.

As in Nice in 2007 and in Manosque two and a half years ago, the ITER Business Forum (IBF) in Toulon aimed at providing international industry with updated information on the status of ITER, the procurement process, and the calls for tender planned for the coming years.

The third edition of IBF was organized by the Industrial Liaison Officers Network of the European Domestic Agency for ITER (Fusion for Energy), the Toulon Tourist Office, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Var département, with participation and support from the ITER Organization, Fusion for Energy and Agence Iter France. Representatives of the ITER Domestic Agencies were also present.

For anyone interested in doing business with ITER, IBF was definitely the place to be. In his welcoming address, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima summarized what could be expected from the two-day meeting: „You will have opportunities, both formal and informal, to meet with representatives of the ITER Organization, Fusion for Energy and other institutions involved in ITER,” he told participants.

„These representatives will provide you with a better understanding of our project, of the machine we are building and of the procedures we are implementing. This meeting will also be an opportunity, for you, to develop collaborations, combine skills and create synergies that will benefit us all.”

Fusion for Energy Director Henrik Bindslev, who also addressed the IBF participants, stressed the importance for Europe to „increase competences and capacities […] in fusion and outside fusion. We want you to find opportunities in fusion and in ITER. That is what this Forum is about.”

And that is exactly what the IBF participants did. As Panjawani Rajkumar met with representatives of French companies, Pierre Janotton, an engineer with Belgium’s Centre Spatial de Liège—one of the world-leading institutes for space technology research and testing—was connecting with potential partners in the field of cryogenics, surface treatment and optics.

„You can draw several parallels between the conditions in space and the conditions in the ITER machine,” says Janotton. „We have a long experience in space and we made a first incursion into fusion recently by providing equipment to test the JT-60SA superconducting magnets. Of course we would like to have contracts with ITER and add our little stone to the project edifice, and this is the place to get the information and find the partners.”

Like Rajkumar and Janotton, the 718 participants in IBF left Toulon with dozens of contacts and several prospective partnerships. They brought home a better understanding of what ITER is about and a clearer perspective of the project’s economic weight. The local daily Var Matin summed it up in its Friday morning headline: „ITER: a four-billion-euro market for industry.”