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Of Interest

See archived entries

Remote ITER Business Meeting

Virtual interaction, tangible opportunities

While the advent of Covid-19 has not stopped the relentless advancement of the ITER Project, it has certainly prompted ingenuity in how ITER conducts its work. The latest example took place on 7-8 April, as industrial representatives from around the world "gathered" virtually to learn about coming business opportunities. The meeting was both a test and first full-scale use of the upgraded ITER studio and supporting features: a mix of live talks, pre-recorded videos, lively Q&A sessions, and one-on-one meetings.

Lights, camera, action: a live Q&A session following a pre-recorded presentation—with audience questions received via the online event platform with the help of an iPad in studio. (Click to view larger version...)
Lights, camera, action: a live Q&A session following a pre-recorded presentation—with audience questions received via the online event platform with the help of an iPad in studio.
Two years ago the ITER Business Forum (IBF) took place in Antibes, a traditional face-to-face conference with more than 1,100 participants, setting an attendance record for these biennial meetings. The expectation was that the 2021 ITER Business Forum would take place in Marseille.

The pandemic blocked those plans, but it did not slow down the march of ITER procurements that require industrial expertise across dozens of high-tech and scientific disciplines. The next in-person IBF has been postponed to 5-7 April 2022, but something was needed in the interim. For the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies to have no large-scale interaction with prospective supplier companies was unacceptable.

The challenge was how to build a quality event, enabling meaningful interaction, while minimizing physical interaction. And the result? A hybrid arrangement featuring a maze of cameras, cables, lighting, green screen, and multiple software platforms suited to the laptops and bandwidths of hundreds of individual users, all coordinated through a multi-channel "tricaster" in the ITER studio.

The result was a unique success. With more than 1,280 registered participants (a new record), the Remote ITER Business Meeting kicked off on time with a live introduction from the ITER Director-General and a pre-recorded video in which he presented an overview of project progress. The ensuing two days featured more than 250 one-on-one meetings with ITER experts, and more than 500 attendees at individual presentations. Industrial partners and potential partners were led through careful explanations of the ITER procurement process: tips on how to build consortia, smart subcontracting, balancing risks and pricing, and the constant emphasis on meeting ITER's demanding technical specifications as well as adherence to quality, safety, and timeliness. Thematic presentations covered large upcoming projects such as the Hot Cell Complex and Tritium Plant, specific tenders related to diagnostics and in-vessel coil power converters, and broader needs related to maintenance services and machine assembly. Fusion for Energy, the European Domestic Agency, also presented a broad range of its upcoming tenders.

For those who missed it, all of the presentations are available at the event website, together with the video recorded presentations and full coverage of the Q&A sessions. The "side event," a virtual tour of the ITER worksite, is also available for viewing.



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