We are creating a unified UKRI website that brings together the existing research council, Innovate UK and Research England websites.
If you would like to be involved in its development let us know.

UK-European Spallation Source (UK-ESS)

UK-ESS is the UK’s contribution to the ESS project.

The UK contribution has two parts – a cash contribution and an in-kind contribution. The in-kind part consists of a variety of deliverables which are matched to the UK’s research and industrial capabilities. The cash part goes towards ensuring that the team in Lund is fully staffed and that the infrastructure is provided so that when the various national in-kind contributions arrive they can be assembled into a working ESS.

The task of managing the overall £165M programme is being undertaken by the UK-ESS Project Office, under the watchful eye of the UK-ESS Project Board whose job is to ensure that the UK neutron community and associated industry get maximum value from the UK’s significant investment.

The first task for the team has been to establish which elements of the ESS should be provided by the UK. This required a careful balance to be struck balancing the needs of ESS against the capabilities and interests of the UK Neutron community. While many of the projects are being led by STFC, they will in practice largely be carried out in industry through STFC’s standard procurement routes.

At its meeting in February 2016, the UK-ESS Project Board (link) formally endorsed the following list of contributions to the ESS to be funded from the UK contribution budget. All of the work will rely heavily on procurements, much of it with local industries. Once plans for this initial set of contributions are firmed up and costs become better known, there is the potential for further contributions to be added.

Contributions to ESS accelerator:

  • RF distribution hardware, being led by Huddersfield University
  • RF cavities, being led by the UK’s Accelerator Technology Centre, ASTeC
  • Vacuum hardware already delivered by STFC’s Technology Department
  • Beam delivery vacuum hardware, being led by STFC’s Technology Department

Contributions to ESS Neutron Scattering Systems:

  • The Loki instrument, being led by STFC’s ISIS department
  • The Freija instrument, being led by STFC’s ISIS department
  • Detector electronics development, being led by STFC’s Technology Department
  • Data streaming and reduction software, being led by STFC’s ISIS department
  • Support laboratory guidance being given by STFC’s ISIS department

Contributions to ESS Target systems

  • Active Cells for handling radioactive materials, being led by UKAEA at Culham, potentially including casks for containment of radioactive materials (subject to budget)

The job of the small team in the UK-ESS Project Office, part funded by EU Horizon 2020 project BrightnESS, is to co-ordinate the overall programme of work in the UK, worth around £115M over several years.

The team is still being formed but will include programme management, financial, and procurement expertise and support.

The UK has been a significant player for many years in the ESS collaboration, especially via staff from STFC’s ISIS facility. The list below shows UK membership on various ESS bodies.

Committee UK delegate
ESS Council Andrew Taylor, Neil Pratt
Science Advisory Committee (SAC) Sylvia McLain (co-chair), Toby Perring
Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Tim Broome, Mark Herron
Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) Neil Pratt
Instrument collaboration Board (ICB) Robert McGreevy
Target Collaboration Board (TCB) Justin Greenhalgh
Target technical Board (TTB) Martin Townsend
Accelerator Collaboration Board (ACB) Peter McIntosh
Accelerator Technical Board (ATB) Peter McIntosh invited
In-Kind Review Committee (IKRC) Justin Greenhalgh
Environment, Safety and Health Advisory Committee (ESHAC) Marek Jura

We are keen for UK industry to play a major role in building the 1.8 B€ ESS project. There are three routes for industrial involvement in the ESS:

  1. By directly bidding to the ESS for work. This will be funded by the ESS. Invitations to bid competitively are announced on the procurement section of the ESS website. The ESS have a e-tendering tool for the procurement services, you can register to be notified of upcoming procurements and for active procurements once registered you are able to register your interest in tenders, access tender documentation, ask questions and submit bids. Please note during registering when asked for the corporate identity number please use the company VAT or registration number. The STFC Business Opportunities team is the UK’s ILO for ESS, and opportunities are advertised via STFC’s Tender Opportunities service. To receive opportunities by sector please register online. As an ERIC, the ESS may adopt its own procurement rules based on transparency, non-discrimination and competition; the ESS procurement rules can be found on their website.
  2. By winning contracts to supply elements of the UK’s in-kind contributions. The contributions are listed here – STFC will use its normal procurement procedures including the use of approved local suppliers and OJEU announcements where appropriate. UKAEA through RACE are delivering the ESS hot cell as part of the UK’s in-kind contributions to ESS and information about upcoming opportunities is available on their website.
  3. By winning contracts to supply parts of other nations’ national contributions. This is likely to happen mostly through existing collaborative links. A list of signed In-Kind Contribution (IKC) agreements can be found on the website.

An event was held on 22 November 2016 focused on how UK industry can engage with the ESS. All presentations from the event can be found here.

The business opportunities team can help you participate in this opportunity; please contact the Tender Opportunities Team.

For further information on the opportunities available for UK industry at international facilities, please see the tender opportunities website.

Last updated: 20 November 2018


Science and Technology Facilities Council
Switchboard: +44 (0)1793 442000