Outside Lund, the construction of the international materials research facility ESS - European Spallation Source - is in full swing. Right next door is MAX IV, who since 2016 has been offering research with the world's brightest X-rays. Together, the two plants form a world-class innovation environment and establish Sweden as a big science nation. In order to take full advantage of the facilities, a joint office has been set up on behalf of the government.
"Really great research must have really advanced research facilities," says Mikaela Rapp, head of the newly established office run by the Swedish Research Council and Vinnova.
Med ESS and MAX IV are building Sweden an international center that will be a world leader in materials science and life science. Therefore, it is important that both companies, industry and academic researchers get access to the opportunities that the facilities create. This gives Sweden's researchers and companies strong competitive advantages and strengthens our position as a research and innovation nation.
Two plants that complement each other
ESS and MAX IV complement each other. At both plants materials at atomic and molecular level are studied, but with different techniques. At MAX IV, the world's brightest and most focused X-rays are created. ESS will have the world's most powerful source of neutrons, with 100 times more neutrons than today's leading plants, when the plant is fully completed in 2023. The unique environments at ESS and MAX IV offer researchers and companies around the world to gain deeper insights and develop solutions for many of society's challenges.
- Here we will see lots of new important discoveries. For example, the plants can contribute to better medicines, new materials for energy storage, and technological breakthroughs in, for example, electronics, solar cells, transportation and food, says Mikaela.
Financial and knowledge gain for Sweden
With research facilities of this magnitude, Swedish companies gain access to advanced research at home, even without having their own broad research base. This gives companies throughout Sweden increased innovation power and creates opportunities for new business. Many companies will benefit from the facilities and use them as tools in their development projects. But it can also be about being a supplier of advanced technology to the plants.
It is not only the purely scientific that causes ESS and MAX IV to attract interest. The actual construction of the facilities is a gain in itself. When industry, business and academia work together to build something that has never been built before, a valuable skills base is created in Sweden.
- Building such huge research facilities is innovation-driven, says Mikaela. The knowledge and technology that arises also spill over into society in other ways. Att Sverige and Swedish companies participate in such high-tech development, giving Swedish industry the opportunity to supply advanced technology to other large-scale research facilities in Europe. Through this we build up knowledge in the country and make Sweden an attractive country for establishing both researchers and companies.
Rings on the water create social benefits
The Joint Office has an important coordinating role and will act as the catalyst that maximizes the benefits of both facilities. The office is set up on behalf of the government, and is run by Vinnova and the Swedish Research Council together.
"As a small country, it is important to take advantage of the potential of having these large facilities," says Liselott Bergman, communications strategist at Vinnova, who works with communications around large-scale research facilities.
- Not least financially. Sweden is already investing large sums in several international research facilities. Of course, we want to have that!
- Med ESS and MAX IV are increasing the opportunities for business and technology development at home. We have the world's coolest material research, where we can find solutions in everything from health areas to sustainability development. I am convinced that both ESS and MAX IV will play significant roles in solving the major societal challenges.