Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ELITRANS (ELITRANS-Facilitating the transformation of ELI from ERDF funded, distributed infrastructures towards a unified ELI-ERIC.)
Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2019-02-28
ELI consists of three facilities located in Central and Eastern Europe representing an overall investment volume exceeding 850M€m stemming from the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) and national funding. The ELI Facilities are nearing completion and their initial operations, due to start in the course of 2019, will be managed in an integrated way under a single European Research Infrastructure (ELI ERIC).
The ELI Facilities are designed not only to serve researchers who specialize in laser science, but they will also accommodate researchers from other fields as well as industrial users. With this variety in research activities, ELI is expected to deliver significant societal benefits and drive innovation in the medium and long term, including improved oncology treatment (ion radiation beams), medical and biomedical imaging, a new generation of photonics and the development of new methods of nuclear waste processing through transmutation.
The ELITRANS project was designed to address the challenges involved in the transition from the implementation of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) by three separate legal entities to operations under a single ELI ERIC. More specifically, most of the dimensions that need to be tackled to create a new organization or, as in the case of ELI, merge three autonomous organizations into one are addressed by the project: governance, management, organization, legal, financial, technical, communication and even cultural aspects of the “integrated ELI” are all addressed by ELITRANS, and defining the means and the schedule to implement changes was also part of the project scope.
The initial scope of the project was to complement the final implementation stage – parallel to the completion of the three construction sites – by preparing and undertaking the transformation from three legally independent construction projects towards governance, operation and financing under a single international legal entity, ELI ERIC.
In this context, three objectives were defined:
• Objective 1 – Developing concepts for ELI ERIC’s “business model”, including essential elements of the future ELI ERIC access policy, services to users and specialized experiment preparation services, scientific standards, terms of services, and IP policy;
• Objective 2 – Preparing ELI ERIC’s “business plan”, adapted to the operation as the world’s first international laser user facility, including organization, legal constitution, financial sustainability, governance, corporate-wide concepts for a virtual research and management environment (VRME), Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) regulations, computing and big-data management;
• Objective 3 – Preparing and undertaking the merger of formally independent national construction projects towards one unified research infrastructure of pan-European importance. This includes steps towards the transformation and unification of ELI’s internal structures and organizational procedures, the creation of an internal corporate identity, harmonization and unification of international relations, creation of a common scientific profile and competitive set of user research opportunities.
A second major achievement is the definition of a detailed Access Policy proposal including access procedures and interactions for the ELI ERIC operation, complemented by a draft IP policy. Together with the substantial work done in parallel to define the future policy and procedures of the ELI ERIC in the area of Environment, Health and Radiation Safety, these elements provide a robust framework within which to initiate ELI’s future operations.
Last but not least, preparations for future integration have been initiated in a number of areas, from the high-level conceptual design of ELI’s virtual research and management environment enabling the distributed facility to carry out administrative and scientific activities in an integrated way, to the definition of an integrated communications strategy, the analysis of an ELI-wide synergetic approach to target manufacturing and, very importantly, the definition of standard procedures for the measurement of source parameters.
ELITRANS successfully completed the implementation of its work plan after 42 months of implementation in February 2019. All three objectives above were fulfilled, thus putting ELI in a position to transition from implementation to initial operations. All essential elements of the business model (in particular the definition of the core elements of ELI’s future access policy) and business model (governance and legal constitution, principles of the future integrated organization, financial requirements and contribution model) were developed and negotiated with prospective founding Members and Observers during the course of ELITRANS. At the end of the project, a fully-developed ELI ERIC application documentation was available, and negotiations were entering their final stage in view of submitting the Step 2 application for the establishment of ELI ERIC by Summer 2019.