Licensing: a transnational success story


Licensing products developed at the ESRF is at the core of the ESRF's Business Development Office activity. A textbook example of the ESRF's licensing activities is the case of a microfurnace technology, which was licensed to the French company IRELEC, then bought by global science company Johnson Matthey and used at Diamond Light Source's beamlines in the United Kingdom, one of our member states.

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The ESRF Business Development Office has a long relationship with IRELEC, a French company providing R&D facilities with custom positioning systems and smart robotic cells. The latest technology to be licensed to IRELEC is a micro-furnace in 2016. This furnace enables scientists to conduct in situ experiments at up to temperatures of 1100 K. Being compact and lightweight, it is easy to install on many beamlines for experiments such as tomography, X-ray absorption spectroscopy (in both transmission and  fluorescence modes), X-ray scattering and diffraction. Already widely used at the ESRF, the furnace allows complex setups, such as those with gas flow, and it is easily adaptable to many existing beamline configurations.

A year after being licensed and amongst other sales, IRELEC has built a furnace for scientists at the global science company Johnson Matthey who have recently commissioned the cell on Diamond Light Source's beamlines in the United Kingdom (one of the ESRF’s funding countries). Tim Hyde Principal Scientist at Johnson Matthey  comments "We are delighted that Johnson Matthey's relationship with the ESRF has underpinned opportunities to further develop our advanced characterisation capability utilising this licenced microfurnace technology", while  Ed Mitchell, head of the Business Development Office explains: “We are very proud of being able to license products developed in-house like the micro furnace. Sharing and transferring our designs and know-how to industry is a key mission of the ESRF  ”. Mitchell also points out that the ESRF “has amazing technology labs open for instrumentation suppliers – industry should feel welcome to use our metrology, crystal, NEG coating facilities as well as any of the other specialised technology labs we have”.