The purpose of this event is to inform the public about the advancements of the SEEIIST project at a decisive moment when it passes from the phase of conception to the phase of design. At a Forum at the ICTP in Trieste in January 2018 two possibilities for a large international facility had been presented. Soon after, the newly formed Intergovernmental Steering Committee of SEEIIST with representatives of the 10 participating parties has chosen as core of the project a state-of-the-art ‘Facility for Tumour Therapy and Biomedical Research with Protons and Heavier Ions’. The Facility will have the double task, with 50% of the beam time each, to treat patients and to perform research with a wide spectrum of different ions beyond the presently used protons and carbon ions, making the SEEIIST project unique in the world. The main reasons for this choice are the facts that no particle therapy center exists in the SEE Region despite an even perpetually growing number of tumours, and that no dedicated research facility for biomedical research exists in all Europe. An independent important objective of the project is to foster regional cooperation in the fields of science, technology and industry in the spirit of the CERN model ‘Science for Peace’.
The next steps are to prepare a definite technical design for the facility benefitting from the most recent developments, to propose a structure for the organisation including a business plan and to define the conditions for a site selection. To carry out these tasks several working groups are being set up at the international research centers CERN, Geneva and GSI-FAIR, Darmstadt. This follows the previous tradition of these centers in making available their infrastructure for the creation of new European research organisations (at CERN e.g. for EMBO and ESO), and offering their respective competence in accelerator technology for medical applications or even in treating patients with ions on their own grounds (at GSI).
The SEEIIST project should be integrated into the general European plans for the development of the region and regional cooperation, the more so that most of the candidate members are candidates for future EU membership. In a first decisive step, the project greatly benefitted from the continuous support of Mr. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. He will give the opening talk of this event in the form of video recording. The activities of the preparatory group will be financed through the support of the EU-Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD).
Capacity building is another objective of SEEIIST and will be supported by the IAEA. This will not only help to train the future staff and users of the facility, but will contribute to the slowing down if not reversal of the brain drain. The project would thus offer immediate benefits for the region in very general terms.