Moreno Bonilla: “IFMIF-DONES promotes the vision of Andalusia as a technological pole”
Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla (Barcelona, 1970) is the president of the Junta de Andalucía since 2019. The regional government is part of the IFMIF-DONES España Consortium, together with the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The president of Andalusia has full confidence in the technological, environmental and developmental implications of the construction in Granada of the largest scientific infrastructure in the country. In his opinion, IFMIF-DONES will activate synergies on a global scale between institutions, companies and universities.
QUESTION. What does it mean for Andalusia, specifically for Granada, to host Spain’s most important scientific and technological infrastructure?
ANSWER. Granada is the strongest candidate to be at the forefront of a project that could determine how we deal with the planet in the future and what technology we can count on. Hosting the accelerator and collaborating to make nuclear fusion a reality as a source of energy will also determine the future of Granada, which also aspires to be the headquarters of important state scientific and innovation agencies. It is taking giant steps towards becoming one of the country’s major innovation hubs, which, together with the technological attraction already generated in Malaga and the work being done in Seville, for example, make Andalusia a reference point not only for the future, but I would say that it is already a reality of the present.
Q. Measures against climate change have become a global priority. How will IFMIF-DONES contribute to tackling such an important challenge for Humanity?
A. We could stop relying on fossil fuels and eliminate the generation of emissions and waste that are difficult to manage. If DEMO can be realised, we could stop relying on fossil fuels and eliminate the generation of emissions and waste that are difficult to manage. It is a straightforward way of putting it. Still, it would open up a different scenario for our future.
Q. Does the current energy crisis and the uncertain international framework entail a threat or an opportunity for IFMIF-DONES?
A. Just as the Coronavirus crisis has meant progress in a few months that would otherwise have taken years in medical research and vaccines, the energy crisis is forcing us to search for new sources of energy a priority. Of course, if we have to look on the bright side of the current situation, the energy crisis can also be an opportunity for all this new technology embodied in the IFMIF-DONES project.
Q. The Junta de Andalucía and the Government of Spain make up the IFMIF-DONES Spain Consortium. What is your assessment of the work being done by this organisation in its first year of existence?
A. I think that collaborating always makes us advance faster; in this case, this basic principle is also being demonstrated. There are fields in which there is no room for anything other than working together, and innovation and research are one of them. The first investments are on the table, the land in Escúzar is available, and the first works have already been put out to tender for the future buildings that will serve as the start of the project. All this is evidence that the work is going well.
Q. Entrepreneurs and civil society have been aligned from the outset in favour of the particle accelerator to be built in Escúzar. Is this social, political, business and academic unanimity a model to imitate?
A. Of course, when there is no friction and we eliminate discord, we can make the fastest and most efficient progress. In this project, moreover, the synergy of all sectors means that all efforts are focused on taking further steps forward. In the end, as with science, the objective of politics must be to achieve the well-being of all; and when this is achieved, the best results are obtained.
Q. The figures surrounding this scientific infrastructure are dreamlike: an investment of 700 million euros, an increase of 6,000 million euros in the production of goods and services, the creation of a thousand jobs;… How do you think it will affect Andalusia’s production model?
A. We must indeed wait for the choice of venue to be resolved. Still, the firm aspirations of Granada to achieve this, as well as the projects already a reality in other provinces, have already managed to break many clichés in Andalusia. We are land with unlimited talent, with a vision and capabilities far beyond what has been considered until now. This is already an achievement that has brought about a revolution in recent years, even from the Andalusians’ perspective. The fact that IFMIF-DONES is being developed in Granada is an endorsement of the transformation we have undertaken.
Q. Institutions such as the University of Granada and CIEMAT, among others, have played an essential role in the implementation of this project. What role could other Andalusian universities or institutions play in the project?
A. Fundamental. In research and development, it is vital to have an ecosystem of knowledge that allows us to share points of view, the advances that are being made and possible solutions to the difficulties that arise in any process. And in Andalusia, we have an enormous force of talent, creativity, and, I would say, enthusiasm in our universities and research centres. But not only in the public sphere; in Andalusia, we have significant scientific and innovation companies, which I would also encourage to join in. When public and private initiatives join forces, the speed at which we advance multiplies exponentially.
Q. Do you think IFMIF-DONES might promote the vision of Andalusia as a technological pole?
A. I think that this is already the reality. The fact of being able to aspire to host this project here confirms it. But also the work that has been done for a long time with the technology and science parks: with the magnet that Malaga has become…, the PTS in Granada…, Cartuja… As I said, Andalusia has even managed to outline its brand of innovation and technological development that we must continue promoting and cultivating.
Q. This scientific infrastructure will be critical to developing other scientific and technological areas, such as medicine or physics… Do you see significant synergies that can be activated with the arrival of IFMIF-DONES?
A. I see it clearly. This project will be a driving force for new developments. In the scientific and technological fields, including new industries and auxiliary companies. The scale of IFMIF-DONES is worldwide, and the advances it achieves will open up new paths for other disciplines. If I may say so, the accelerator will be an accelerator.
Q. Given the importance of the project, is it going to be declared a project of strategic interest for the Region, with the advantages that this entails from an administrative point of view?
A. It is already strategic and has been considered, so from the moment it was proposed, we created the Consortium and planned the investments for its start-up. We will do whatever has to be done to ensure that this initiative does not encounter any obstacles, which is the philosophy that has been applied from the outset. The unwavering support it has received from the administrations and from the beginning, I believe, is also one of the competitive advantages when deciding on Granada to host the IFMIF-DONES.
Q. Andalusia is becoming one of the most attractive regions for attracting international talent. What can we expect in the coming years?
A. That will be one of Andalusia’s distinguishing marks. We have long been a land to visit because of our natural, cultural, historical and gastronomic heritage… We are a land to live in because of all of the above and because we are a land of welcome… But we are also, and increasingly so, a land to work in, to develop so much talent and courage to launch business and research initiatives that, in a short time, are becoming and will become a world reference. I believe that the fundamental change, which makes Andalusia all this, is that we have achieved a shift in mentality and perception of ourselves and our possibilities. And in this respect, Andalusia is an inexhaustible source of talent and confidence in the future.