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A Laser project initiated by l’X brings 100M€ to French industry

Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) imagined by Gérard Mourou, professor at École Polytechnique, aims to build in Europe the most intense lasers of the world. In December 2017, a report on its socio-economic impact reveals that this project benefits particularly the French advanced laser industry.

Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) is a major project in Europe imagined and initiated by Pr. Mourou, at École Polytechnique, upon his return from the Michigan University in 2006. While this European project established in the Czech Republic, in Hungary and Romania has reached two-thirds of its installation, a report on the socio-economic impact was published in December 2017. It shows that France has earned the majority of ELI contracts on advanced technologies and photonics, generating a total of nearly  €102 million  for its industry.

European research investments to industrial benefits in France
As of September 2017, the ELI project is two-third of the way through implementation. Until now, €550 million euros have been engaged through major contracts (> 200k€) for works, supplies or services. Out of those €550 million, €289 million can be related to high technologies, of which €262 million can be associated to photonics alone.
An analysis by country of origin shows that France is the major winner of high-tech and photonics contracts, with almost €102 million of contracts. French companies awarded contracts by ELI include Thales Optronique, Groupe Amplitude, Fastlite, and Alsyom. CNRS is also involved – on a commercial basis – in the EuroGammaS consortium for the design, manufacturing, installation and commissioning of the ELI-NP’s linear accelerator.
The ELI project has helped French companies reinforce their technological lead in high-power laser technologies and optronics in general. High-power lasers represent a fast-growing market on which French companies are now well positioned, in part thanks to the ELI and Apollon projects.

ELI project
Selected on the first ESFRI Roadmap (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) after just one year of maturity, ELI benefited from a wide support from the scientific community. Financed by FP7, ELI Preparatory Phase project - involving 15 laboratories in 13 countries - was conducted by CNRS (The National Center for Scientific Research) until 2010. In October 2009, a decision was taken to implement ELI under the form of a distributed research infrastructure with 3 “pillars”, and a mandate was given to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania to implement one ELI pillar each. ELI is the first large research infrastructure project to benefit from co-funding by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for its implementation in the three host countries.