The preparatory activities for the commissioning of the accelerator will generate over €26 million in contracts for science industry in the next 3 years

The construction of the first liquid metal and radiofrequency laboratories, the DONES-UGR Research Centre, the design of prototypes for the operation of the particle accelerator and the electric supply connections for IFMIF-DONES require the involvement of private companies. In the next three years, the preparatory activities related to the particle accelerator, the largest scientific infrastructure to be built in Spain, will generate opportunities for science industry over €26 million. This was the main conclusion of the event on upcoming opportunities for the industry sector in IFMIF-DONES, which gathered over 100 Spanish companies interested in identifying cooperation opportunities in the design, construction, and operation phases of the accelerator.

The event, organised by CIEMAT, Ineustar, OnTech Innovation, the University of Granada and CDTI within the framework of the DONES-PreP project, revealed the importance of the industry sector and the need of the involvement of private operators specialised in different fields, from construction and consultancy to scientific and technological areas related to radiofrequency, the construction of magnets, mechatronics or the construction and operation of special cranes. ‘We are working on the characterization of the site. In the upcoming months and years, we will continue working on the design, on the construction of some of the critical component prototypes and on the preparation for the operation phase, with a team working on different activities across the project’ explained Ángel Ibarra, Head of the Fusion Technologies Division and Technical Director of IFMIF-DONES.

Ángel Ibarra reviewed in detail the status of IFMIF-DONES and the technical and technological challenges it entails. The Technical Director informed that the three projects related to the accelerator and led by Spanish entities (DONES-PreP, DONES-UGR and DONES-PRIME) with public funds are enabling progress in international negotiations, planification and engineering design to initiate the construction phase of IFMIF-DONES as soon as possible.

These preliminary activities are already generating business opportunities for companies through tendering procedures related to the commissioning of the accelerator and auxiliary infrastructures which are estimated in over €26 million and on an immediate horizon (2021-2023).

Part of this amount is directly related to the activities implemented in the DONES-PRIME project, which includes the construction of several facilities (administration and visits building, a multipurpose room, building for access control and urbanisation of surrounding areas), the construction of the first laboratories (Liquid Metal and Radiofrequency Laboratories), supply connections (high voltage power lines, low voltage lines and other supplies) and the characterization of the site (geotechnical and topographic studies, meteorological studies, and seismic studies and seismic isolation studies).

Moisés Weber, responsible for the DONES-PRIME project, explained that the market related to large scientific infrastructure faces ‘some access barriers due to the peculiarities of the projects, but once overcome, it is an international market in continuous expansion’. Moisés Weber highlighted the great potential of Spanish companies and the unprecedented opportunities generated by this infrastructure.

From the DONES-UGR project, José Aguilar, Coordinator of the Technical Office for IFMIF-DONES, announced public contracts directly related to the project implementation and construction of the DONES-UGR Research Center, engineering services (consultancy and technical assistance), the construction of prototypes for DONES, the commissioning of a virtual reality laboratory for remote control in DONES and the laboratory for LIPAc/DONES control.

The event was inaugurated by Antonio Alcántara, Secretary General of OnTech Innovation, and moderated by Rafael Padura, Director of Institutional Relations from this same organisation. Representatives from the Spanish Science Industry Association (Ineustar) and from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) addressed from a general perspective the opportunities derived from large scientific infrastructures for the industry sector.

Erik Fernández, General Manager at Ineustar, highlighted the strategic importance of companies as suppliers of the necessary parts for the commissioning of large scientific infrastructures, related to astrophysics, high-energy physics (accelerators) and nuclear fusion. ‘In the past decade, the science industry has experienced a fast growth. Spanish companies are part of a relevant and internationally well positioned sector’, explained Erik Fernández, who encouraged companies to be proactive and participate as much as possible in the tendering procedures related to IFMIF-DONES. ‘The particle accelerator is a great opportunity for Spain, for the region and for Granada. It is our responsibility to make the most of it in every possible way. We have the capacity, the experience and the will to cooperate’, concluded the General Manager.

Belén del Cerro, representative of the Department of Large Scientific Infrastructures and Dual Programmes at CDTI, noted that large scientific infrastructures will generate a direct market of approximately €40 billion in the next four years. CDTI offers companies the necessary instruments to prepare for such procurements, something that the speaker considers necessary ‘in a highly technological and competitive market’.

The cofounder of Seven Solutions, Javier Díaz, shared with the attendees the history of this company as an example of the great possibilities that scientific infrastructures open to any company. ‘Science industry is a sector with a strong tractor effect and projection’, explained Javier Díaz, stressing that companies ‘should not fear innovation’ and should be willing to train in disruptive technologies.

The event was closed by the Rector of the University of Granada, who confirmed that IFMIF-DONES will ‘open great business and innovation opportunities and create high-quality employment’. The Rector stressed the importance of encouraging public-private cooperation to guarantee the construction of an infrastructure that has already placed Granada ‘on the European map of research facilities’.

This event was organised within the framework of the DONES Preparatory Phase (DONES-PreP), funded by the Euratom research and training programme 2014-2018.