There is worldwide consensus that the e+e- International Linear Collider (ILC) is the next major project in High Energy Physics following the imminent commissioning of the LHC; it is a high priority in the European Strategy for Particle Physics agreed by CERN Council. The ILC will constitute the precision tool for the Terascale, the scale of electroweak symmetry breaking. The ILC complements the potential of the LHC, which will initially chart this unknown territory. The ILC-HiGrade project brings together the key players in Europe to engage towards the realisation of the ILC. They constitute a large fraction of the European element of the Global Design Effort (GDE) that has recently led to the publication of the Reference Design Report (RDR). The report forms the basis for the Engineering Design Phase of the ILC, which the GDE will complete by mid-2010 when the proposal for the ILC will be presented to the global stakeholders, i.e. governments and funding agencies to seek approval. The technically driven schedule envisages construction beginning in 2012. Project approval and start of construction is thus a two-stage process. Starting in 2008, the ILC-HiGrade Consortium will address important elements in this 2-stage process with siting of the facility as one major ingredient. Currently there are site proposals in Japan, US and in Europe. Their benefits will be evaluated and the international framework in which the project will be realised will be developed. ILC-HiGrade encompasses the European side in this global endeavour. The participating laboratories and universities contribute their long-standing experience in conceiving large-scale experiments and the organisation of large collaborations to a process that establishes the global framework for an organisation that will support start of construction matching the technical timelines. The linacs of the ILC constitute a major cost-driver. Their design and their cost depend on the achievable accelerating gradient for the ILC. The global gradient development programme will establish a realistic operational gradient for the ILC by employing proven preparation techniques, with European laboratories leading the effort. In the course of ILC-HiGrade, the partners will prepare at least 24 fully dressed cavities, which will initially serve as a technical reference for the decision on the choice of gradient and eventually as the industrialisation of the high-gradient process. The timelines of this 4-year project are well aligned with those of the Global Design Effort, aimed at establishing the technical basis for proposing the ILC by mid-2010. There is a world-wide consensus that at this time the design and physics capabilities of the ILC will be evaluated in the environment following the first physics and operational results from LHC in order to chart the path towards approval of the ILC in 2010 and construction beginning at the earliest by 2012. From a European perspective, all crucial elements necessary to produce this outcome, both technical and political are reinforced and explicitly supported in the ILC-HiGrade project.
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