A European research facility like ESS would be a key tool in strategic areas such as energy and nanotechnology. Similar commitments are being made in the US and Japan. Europe, which is the present world leader in research based on neutrons, will lose its top position when the American and Japanese facilities come on steam in a couple of years.
“Locating the source in Lund would not only help sustain the position of leadership, but also boost Sweden’s competitiveness in fields like, medicine, environment, communication, and foodstuffs. There are many profile areas for Sweden, both in existent businesses and in the potential for new industries,” says Karin Markides, vice director-general of VINNOVA, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems.
Growth and development in focus
The mission of the new forum is to provide a meeting place for research, business, and authorities concerning ESS, but also to spread information and knowledge about the potential ESS will offer both science and industrial development. The forum is also charged with stimulating developmental work surrounding the technology that ESS will use and provide. The forum is being established on the initiative of the Swedish Research Council and VINNOVA.
Lars Börjesson, chief secretary of the Committee for Research Infrastructure at the Research Council, points out that there is tremendous interest in the project, not only from the European research community: “Equally important is the fact that it is generally recognized that a commitment to ESS would have a major impact on long-term growth for the entire society, both in Sweden and in Europe.”
Online in five years?
The objective is to have ESS up and running by 2015, and the cost of the project is calculated at €1-1.5 billion. Allan Larsson, former Swedish minister of finance among other top posts, has been commissioned by the Swedish government to head a task force to attract ESS to the Öresund region. The task force is to report by July 1 this year, whereupon the government will make a decision about hosting the facility.