United Kingdom now European XFEL shareholder
On Wednesday 21 November, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), an organization funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, officially became a shareholder of European XFEL GmbH, the company that builds and runs the world’s largest X-ray laser in Schenefeld near Hamburg.
Back in March 2018, at the British Embassy in Berlin, UK representatives signed the documents to join the European XFEL Convention to become European XFEL’s twelfth partner. Now, in a ceremony on the DESY campus in Hamburg, UKRI representative Neil Pratt has signed the accession documents to enable the UK to become a shareholder in the European XFEL GmbH.
As shareholder, UKRI, through the Science and Technology Research Council, now has full voting rights in the company’s supreme organ, the European XFEL Council. The UK shares amount to 2.1% of the company’s total shares, corresponding to the UK contributions to the total European XFEL construction and operation budgets.
European XFEL Managing Director Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l said: ”We are very pleased that the UK has today formalized their commitment to European XFEL and are now on board as shareholders. We have already established a very strong and productive collaboration and we look forward to working together even closer in the future.”
On behalf of the UK and UKRI Professor Mark Thomson, STFC’s Executive Chair, said : “Todays signing reinforces our continued strategy to ensure UK science remains at the very forefront of global research by collaborating with the best scientists in the world and using the best facilities. UKRI, through STFC, have already worked for over ten years with our colleagues in European XFEL on bringing UK expertise to bear on supplying key pieces of equipment for the facility and I await with immense interest to see what UK researchers working with European XFEL will discover in the coming years”.
The chair of the European XFEL Council Maria Faury, and vice-chair of the European XFEL Council Prof. Martin Meedom Nielsen, were also present at the signing, and welcomed the UK as shareholders.
“On behalf of the Council, I warmly welcome UKRI as new shareholder of the European XFEL GmbH. The European XFEL has greatly benefited from the collaboration with the UK vibrant scientific community over the years and their contribution of ideas and know-how has been pivotal for the project“ so Faury. “Congratulations UKRI and welcome on board!”
Martin Meedom Nielsen said “It is a great pleasure to see the successful conclusion of the process leading to the UK becoming a shareholder of the European XFEL. International collaboration is more important than ever, and the UK scientific community has been an active partner in the project from the very beginning, providing vital contributions towards establishing the European XFEL as a world leading facility for X-ray science.”
The UK already contributes significantly to European XFEL, for instance with a high energy laser that will be used to recreate the conditions found within planets and developed and built the advanced Large Pixel Detector (LPD), a cutting-edge X-ray “camera” capable of capturing images in billionths of a second, that was installed at XFEL in 2017.
The UK also takes a leading role in a user consortium (SFX UC) contributing instrumentation for taking images of biological macromolecules and operates an XFEL hub coordinating these activities and supporting users at their Diamond Light Source facility on the Harwell campus in Oxfordshire.
European XFEL GmbH is a non-profit company. Its shareholders are designated by the governments of the international partners. With the addition of the UK, eleven of the twelve partner countries have formalized their commitment to the project by becoming shareholders.
About European XFEL
The European XFEL in the Hamburg area is a new international research facility of superlatives: 27,000 X-ray flashes per second and a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources open up completely new opportunities for science. Research groups from around the world will be able to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional “photos” of the nanoworld, “film” chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets. The construction and operation of the facility is entrusted to European XFEL, a non-profit organisation that cooperates closely with its main shareholder, the research centre DESY, and other organisations worldwide. The company, which has a workforce of more than 300 employees, started user operation of the facility in September 2017. With construction and commissioning costs of 1.25 billion euro (at 2005 price levels) and a total length of 3.4 kilometres, the European XFEL is one of the largest and most ambitious European new research facilities to date. At present, 12 countries have signed the European XFEL Convention: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
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