On 23 January, the City of Lund appealed the decision by the County Administrative Board to revoke the zoning plan for Science Village. The disagreement between the City of Lund and the County Administrative Board centres on the extent to which the risks associated with ESS have been sufficiently investigated or not (see article in the Sydsvenskan newspaper, link below). Science Village shares the opinion of the City of Lund and contends that these risks have indeed been sufficiently investigated and that, in addition, the investigation has shown that the risks are extremely limited. The matter will now be resolved by the Government.
Work on the development of Science Village will continue based on the scenario that the Government will follow the City of Lund’s line and that the zoning plan will come into effect. We regard it as troubling, both for ourselves and ESS/MAX IV, that the commencement of construction will be further delayed.
MAX IV is a national research facility and Sweden’s largest and most ambitious ever investment in national research infrastructure. Opened in 2016, MAX IV has thus far cost Sweden approximately SEK 4 billion. The laboratory has been jointly financed by the Swedish Research Council, Vinnova, Lund University and Region Skåne.
European Spallation Source, ESS, is a pan-European research facility jointly owned by some fifteen European countries. ESS is expected to cost in the region of SEK 18 billion, with Sweden’s contribution being approximately SEK 6 billion. The construction of ESS began in 2014 and it is expected that the first experiments will be carried out in 2019, with the first guest researchers arriving in 2023.
Both ESS and Max IV have been planned on the premise that Science Village will be constructed between the two facilities and provide elements necessary to their operation. These elements include laboratories preparing samples for investigation in the research facilities, workshops for repair and maintenance, accommodation for guest researchers and restaurants.
MAX IV states in its Strategy Plan 2013-2026 [updated 2016]: ”For exploiting the full potential of MAX IV, a close collaboration with the future ESS and with Science Village Scandinavia is essential. MAX IV has the following priorities it wants to realise in Science Village and they are consistent with the needs of ESS: Public transport, guest accommodation, Lund University departments moving to Science Village, meeting rooms, Visitor Centre/Museum and support laboratories.”
Science Village will also facilitate the growth of Swedish innovation and Swedish trade and industry with the help of close proximity to the research facilities. As both ESS and MAX IV will welcome guest researchers, there is otherwise a considerable risk that the research results generated will disappear abroad rather than remaining in Sweden.
Swedish universities see the need for the swift construction of Science Village with premises to fulfil their needs. Lund University writes in its Strategic Plan for 2017-2026 that “the university will be a node for national and international cooperation and public and private-sector collaboration centred around MAX IV and ESS, as well as a driving force in the development of Science Village Scandinavia in order to maximise the potential benefits of MAX IV and ESS. Both Uppsala University and Chalmers University of Technology write in their strategy documentation that they plan to establish their own campus at ESS and MAX IV. Stockholm University, Umeå University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Malmö University also describe in their own strategic plans how they intend to utilise ESS and MAX IV.
The Swedish Research Council has an ongoing government mandate to “stimulate Swedish participation, use and expertise around the building and operation of ESS” (U2014/3980/F). Within the framework of this mandate, the Swedish Research Council points out seven areas of greatest importance in understanding and achieving the goals of their proposed Strategy for ESS in Sweden (May 2016) on participation in and hosting one of largest research facilities in Europe. One of these seven areas is the “creation of a national science park and innovation environment between ESS and MAX IV” (read ‘Science Village’). The Swedish Research Council specifically points out the immediate importance of meeting these needs: “Given that researchers and industry parties wishing to utilise MAX IV are already in the starting blocks in anticipation of the inauguration of the facility in summer 2016, the most basic functions need to be established almost immediately – and with the big picture and long-term use in mind.”
Overall, the delay in approving the zoning plan may have unfortunate consequences both in the form of lost jobs and research left lagging behind, as well as the bad publicity for Sweden as the host nation for ESS.
Links, in Swedish, to County Administrative Board decision on revoking the zoning plan for Science Village and to City of Lund appeal against the decision of the County Administrative Board:
Länsstyrelsen upphäver detaljplanen för Science Village, 2017-01-02
Kommunens Överklagan 2017-01-23