"Extremely Large" opportunity for UK companies

20 May 2011

A special event has been held in London on 19 May 2011, at which officials from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) briefed UK companies on what they need to do to get involved in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project. Around 60 UK businesses attended the event.

As with companies from the other ESO Member States, British companies are being urged to bid for a share of a billion Euros that will be available in contracts for the E-ELT, which will be the biggest optical and infrared telescope in the world.

The E-ELT will be a 42 metre telescope that will be a revolutionary tool in astronomy. Among other goals, it will have the task of tracking down Earth-like planets, capable of harbouring life, that orbit distant stars.

Building the E-ELT will take more than just its state-of-the-art optics. The telescope is a major civil engineering project and will involve steel fabrication, precision actuation and detector systems.

The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) jointly organised the event with the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) government agency. STFC allows UK astronomers access to ESO’s telescopes through a subscription.

John Womersley, STFC’s Director of Science Programmes, and UK delegate to ESO Council said: “We are excited about the world class science capability that the E–ELT will deliver for UK astronomers.  But we also understand that we have to be able to explain to UK taxpayers why we should invest in such a large new science facility now, when money is very tight.  It’s important to us that UK industry is involved to the project, so that the impacts in terms of jobs and high technology coming to the UK are clear, and there are some great opportunities here."


Rowena Sirey
Head of External Relations
ESO, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6843

James Clements
UKTI press contact
UK Trade & Investment Press Officer
Tel: +44 (0)20 7215 2491

Lucy Stone
STFC Press Officer
Tel: +44 (0)1235 445627

About the Announcement



UK event on industry involvement in the E-ELT project
UK event on industry involvement in the E-ELT project