French representatives have announced today at the ESS Steering Committee meeting in Lund, that they are prepared to sign a Letter of Intent. In meetings with Swedish and Danish officials, representatives from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) said they are prepared to commit to fund the project.
“This is a very significant step for ESS and the European science community,” says Lars Leijonborg, Sweden’s Chief Negotiator. “France’s commitment is a clear signal of support. The contributions of French scientists and engineers will make to the project are essential for success.”
The European Spallation Source ESS is a next-generation neutron source built in partnership with 17 European countries. It is expected to open up new opportunities for scientists using neutrons for material research. France has one of the largest neutron user communities in Europe with a tradition of research in this field.
The decision comes following an extensive review of France’s participation in international research organizations. The review, which concluded in June, determined that ESS is an important strategic future scientific instrument. The pledge reflects the country’s long tradition of supporting large-scale research infrastructures. It also solidifies the commitment France made to Sweden and Denmark when Lund was chosen as the site of the European facility.
“We are very pleased that ESS was highly evaluated by the French government’s review process,” says Peter Honeth, the Swedish State Secretary of Education and Research. “That is a very strong validation of the project’s importance for the future of European research infrastructures.”
The estimated cost of ESS is €1.843 million for construction. The French contribution will be a combination of in-kind and cash. French laboratories and research institutes will develop and provide a significant portion of the hardware for the facility in France.
“The success of ESS is dependent on the intellectual investment of its partner countries,” says Jim Yeck, Director General and CEO of ESS. “I am looking forward to collaborating with our French partners, who have a track record of excellence in world-class engineering and neutron science.”
Discussions about details of the contributions are ongoing between French officials and the Host countries. Details still need to be worked out relative to the specific contributions, and operations of the facility. The final selection of the French in-kind contributions is subject to an independent evaluation committee, consisting of representatives from all partner countries.
“The negotiation process with France has been fruitful and constructive,” says Bo Smith, the Danish Chief Negotiator. “We are working on the details of the agreement, and specifics of the technical contributions, and this is a postive step forward.”