It was with great pleasure that we were able to welcome Madame Frédérique Vidal, Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation to the EPN campus on 13 June 2018. Shortly after the arrival of the minister’s group at the ESRF, Professor Helmut Schober, Director of the Institut Laue-Langevin, had the honour of presenting the ILL to the Minister, Madame Frédérique Vidal, and to the assembly of guests invited for this important occasion.
From right to left: Mme Frédérique Vidal, Mr Jean-Charles Colas-Roy, Mr Pantaleo Raimondi, Mr Francesco Sette, Mr Patrick Lévy and Mr Helmut Schober
In his address Mr Schober stressed the fact that the ILL operated the most intense source of neutrons in the world. Together with its neighbour, the ESRF synchrotron source, and the other research institutes in the Grenoble area, the ILL formed a scientific complex for the exploration of matter unique in the world. Over the last fifty years the ILL had been providing researchers access to state-of-the-art neutron facilities, for a scientific production of over 22000 scientific articles – for the most part published in high-impact journals. It was now serving users from over 65 different countries. Mr Schober explained that neutrons offered exceptional capacities of observation. Thanks to their polyvalence they had become indispensable in a variety of scientific domains ranging from solid-state physics to chemistry and biology, from the material and earth sciences to engineering and nuclear or particle physics.
The ILL is principally financed by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, under the terms of an intergovernmental convention renewable on a ten-yearly basis. Presenting the ILL budget, Mr Schober highlighted the importance of instrument renewal and scientific investment at both the ESRF and ILL, thanks also to the grant aid provided by France’s state and local authority CPER programme over the period 2015 to 2020. He added that the 25 M€ investment provided every year by the French state to the ILL generated a return on investment for France of 74 M€. 75% of the orders placed by the Institute in France, as well as the lion’s share of the 500 staff members’ salaries, were spent locally.
Finally Mr Schober commented on the major changes underway in the neutron landscape, both at European and world scale. He insisted in this context on the crucial role to be played by the Institute, on whom it befell to sustain the rhythm of European research, reinforcing and expanding the community of neutron users, whilst maintaining its world leadership through continued scientific and technological excellence. There was clear agreement within the European user community on the need for the ILL’s activities for at least ten years beyond 2023, the final year of the present intergovernmental convention. Discussions had already started between Ministry representatives at the Directorate for research and innovation and the British and German partners on the modalities for renewal of the convention. Mr Schober therefore thanked Mme Vidal most warmly for the strong support received by the ILL over the last fifty years from the French state through the auspices of her Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.