Shared Plan for Self-Sustainability

Astrid Berens

With RADIATE coming to an end, the project partners have taken stock of the current situation of their facilities and possible future outlooks.

Perpetuating National Funding

The backbone of the sustainability of European ion beam infrastructures is the continued public national funding through academy and research organisations. Its allocation exhibits significant variations across European countries, owing to their diverse backgrounds. While certain infrastructures benefit from substantial basic funding provided by their respective research agencies or councils to cover ongoing operational expenses, others have experienced a lack of national funding for an extended duration or have received only negligible amounts for repair purposes. It is noted that for some research agencies accelerator facilities have the same status as smaller research instruments (e.g. like a scanning electron microscope – SEM), so the amount of financial help is the same for either despite significant cost differences (typical orders of magnitude: 10 million € for an accelerator vs. several 100 k€ for an instrument).

Most of the infrastructures (~92%) expect their national funding to remain stable or increase for the foreseeable future, while a less optimistic expectation is the exception. For example, Slovenia is committed to reaching the milestone of allocating 2% of GDP for science. Thus, funding at JSI has been increasing in recent years and is expected to continue until the goal is achieved. In France, a national network of accelerators was created in 2020Ongoing institutional work has resulted in the EMIR&A network for irradiation and analysis of molecules and materials,  aimed at increasing the visibility of French ion beam facilities, and gaining a formal place in the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, thus opening the possibility for national funding of beamtime based on submitted and evaluated projects.

Towards maintaining or increasing national funding, the following actions are envisaged by the RADIATE consortium: continued participation in exhibitions and conferences to raise awareness about the facilities; project submissions to national calls; adapting services to higher exploration for the benefit of society and economic growth; lobbying with politicians, e.g. pressure exerted on the Ministry of Science through letters and individual contacts to increase maintenance funds for research infrastructures. However, there has been limited success in recent times.

Regular project submissions to national calls are employed as a strategic approach to enhance funding opportunities for infrastructures. However, certain infrastructures dependent on these calls face the challenge of unpredictable funding patterns due to the absence of information regarding the publication dates of new calls. This irregularity and lack of planning make it difficult to anticipate and secure funding through this route.

75% of the RADIATE beneficiaries see the necessity of major investments (such as the replacement or new installation of an accelerator, or buildings) in the forthcoming years. Funding for these is mostly expected to be secured through national or internal funding as well as European Regional Development Funds (ERDF).

Joining New Ways of European Funding

The funding of methodical consortia of Research Infrastructures such as RADIATE is no longer foreseen in the present Horizon Europe Frame Program of the EC. Consequently, 54% of the RADIATE beneficiaries expect a mid-term decrease of their EC funding. Nevertheless, there are still thematic programs which enable significant contributions by the EC, being focused on the main mission areas. Examples are the ongoing ReMade@ARI hub ( for materials research in circular economy, in which most of the RADIATE beneficiaries take part, and the RADNEXT network ( of irradiation facilities addressing electronic components and systems. A RIANA proposal for irradiation in nanoscience has just been submitted. These projects offer in addition to and in combination with ion beams also the use of, among others, photon and neutron sources for a broad, tailored and optimized user service. Ion beam facilities will have to adapt to the new way of funding in order to find their place in the changing funding landscape.

Looking for Other International Funding Sources

Various infrastructures receive contributions from non-EC international funds, mostly from the IAEA, which, however, play only a minor role with 2-10% of their total funding. These amounts are expected to remain stable in the forthcoming years.

Promoting External Usage

The utilization of beam time by external users is essential for the long-term sustainability of most of the RADIATE ion beam facilities. It exhibits a range of patterns: While at two beneficiaries beam times are for the most part supported by external funds, other partners presently rely on EC projects, which account for approximately 5-40% of their facilities’ beam time allocation.

While the total beam time for external users is expected to remain stable, it is anticipated that the external utilization of beam time through TA could experience a modest decline. This projection is based on factors such as lengthy or intricate reviewing processes associated with the new projects, as well as their highly focused application areas.

Expanding Services to Industry

Most RADIATE partners offer paid beam time to industry, which ranges between ~3-50 % of the total beam time, 50 % being the exception. Likewise, the contribution of industrial services to the allover budget of the infrastructures lies between ~2 and 60%. Most facilities cover 5-10% beam time with paid services and expect these numbers to remain stable or increase in the coming years. One infrastructure manages to receive funding from large international companies. 60% of the beneficiaries rate that a significant budgetary contribution from industrial use / services / cooperation will be essential for the long-term sustainability of their infrastructures. Consequently, 90% of the RADIATE beneficiaries are actively trying to promote cooperation with industry and/or services to industry, and/or to increase beam time for industry.

This endeavor entails arranging meetings with domestic industrial entities, active participation in industrial fairs, fostering liaison networks, establishing a dedicated user office to cater to industry requirements, and developing specialized websites offering information tailored to industry needs. The partners with existing innovation spin-off companies are making use of these to establish new contacts. Despite these concerted efforts, some partners indicate that the success rates in establishing fruitful collaborations with industry have been notably restricted. Some partners point out that big investments (automation, up-scaling of equipment, full-time technical staff and engineers) would first be needed to make services feasible and worthwhile.

Maintaining common visibility

The website, which was set up for the RADIATE project, will be maintained by HZDR after the termination of the project as a common platform of the European Ion Beam Laboratories and as a source of information about their technical and scientific portfolio.


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