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RBI Hosts the prestigious SOFT 2020 Conference

Sep 21st 2020

The 31st Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT 2020) was launched today at the Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI). Although this year's edition of the most prestigious biennial event in this field in Europe has gone virtual, this did not stop the organizers from attracting as many as 800 participants from all over the world.

RBI Hosts the prestigious SOFT 2020 Conference

During the five days of the conference the participants will have the opportunity to enjoy over 30 lectures and 700 poster presentations, as well as industrial and R&D online exhibitions that focus on the latest developments on fusion experiments and activities, thus preparing scientists for the challenges of fusion research in the new decade.

"The SOFT 2020 conference is being held in unprecedented circumstances of Covid-19 pandemics. However, delaying or postponing SOFT2020 conference was not an option due to the fast development of fusion research and the exciting decade of fusion successes ahead of us,’’ said Dr Tonči Tadić, Chair of the Virtual SOFT 2020 International Organizing Committee.

"We did our best to ensure smooth realisation of the Virtual SOFT 2020. On the other hand, we understand that there is no virtual technology, which can replace, exchange of results and knowledge as well as lively discussions in live. However, we do believe this Virtual edition of the SOFT 2020 has some advantages such as the accessibility. This means that all material uploaded to the Virtual SOFT 2020 website can be accessed anytime and day of this week,’’ said Iva Bogdanović Radović, Chair of the Virtual SOFT 2020 Local Organizing Committee.

Delaying or postponing SOFT2020 conference was not an option due to the fast development of fusion research and the exciting decade of fusion successes ahead of us

Thanking the local organizing committee at the RBI for their effort in organizing the SOFT 2020 conference in such a challenging pandemic times, the director of the RBI, Dr David M. Smith said it was his honour to have the Institute chosen to host this prestigious biennial fusion event.

"The Ruđer Bošković Institute with its partners in Croatia expects enhanced participation in fusion research in the next decade. Besides, as a responsible partner in the EUROfusion project we are committed to completion of ITER, through aimed fusion research in Croatia, as well as through stronger participation of Croatian companies in this key fusion project.

Besides, through a partnership of the RBI with our Spanish colleagues at CIEMAT we are committed to the construction of the DONES, as the important milestone toward fusion power plant DEMO.

Anticipating completion of these key fusion facilities in the next decade, we consider that one of the most important goals in the next decade, should be the preparation of next generations of fusion researchers, i.e. 'Generation ITER' and 'Generation DEMO'.

I am therefore glad to see large participation of young fusion researchers at this important Conference,’’ concluded Dr Smith wishing everyone the most successful conference.

Croatian Minister of Science and Education Dr Radovan Fuchs welcomed all participants on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Croatia (RH), and expressed the support of the Croatian Government to all current and future fusion activities in Croatia. He congratulated the International Organizing Committee for successfully organizing this important event despite the coronavirus pandemic. In that sense, he especially thanked the local organizers at the RBI and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in Split.

We are on the brick of a new decade for which the EU has prepared it long term budget 2021-2027 and in this long term budget the new energy research and fusion research must keep their prominent position.

"The Government of the Republic of Croatia supports and will continue to support Croatia`s involvement in fusion research through our participation in the EUROfusion project as well as through the strong presence of Croatian researchers and companies in the development of DONES and ITER projects," said Minister Fuchs.

Deputy Director General of the European Commission's (EC) Directorate for EU Research and Innovation, Patrick A. Child said that the successful development of fusion research requires, among other things, the timely and continuous exchange of scientific results and know-how. In this sense, it was extremely important to ensure the continuity of this prestigious biennial symposium on fusion technology.

He thanked the organizing committee for enabling the continuity of SOFT conference despite the pandemic.

‘’I’m looking forward to presenting the SOFT Innovation Prize to the three winners. It is a special day for those of you who will be receiving these awards and I offer you my warmest congratulations,’’ said Child.

The prize rewards outstanding researchers or industries who try to find new solutions, possibly with wider applications, to the huge challenges of fusion.

Child further emphasised that fusion research is a major success story of the international collaboration. He stressed the importance of harvesting and sharing the know-how and expertise gained on ITER and DEMO projects.

‘’We need the smooth transition to allow the relevant industrial players to become progressively integrated into the DEMO design activities. This should become one of the main objectives of the research programme. The Commission is not only committed to supporting ITER and DEMO, but also to support other innovative ideas and technologies for new solutions in fusion research.

Child explained that with the new EU budget just agreed, the EURATOM and Horizon Europe research programmes would continue to provide a substantial support for fusion research.

‘’We must work for the research community and the industry to deliver the timely realization of the ambitious goals. Our future energy security depends on it. On this optimistic but challenging note, I would like to wish us all a successful and challenging conference,’’ Child concluded.

There is no doubt that this year's virtual edition of the SOFT conference will prove successful despite the coronavirus pandemic, and this is supported by the facts of over 800 registered participants in a week full of lectures, discussions and meetings with the fusion industry.

The increasing participation of young researchers and the consolidated representation of industry representatives at the SOFT 2020 conference indicate the strong positioning of SOFT as a unique platform for the exchange of the latest advances in fusion research and technology.

The election of Croatia as the SOFT 2020 and SOFT 2022 host, is a great acknowledgment to Croatian scientists engaged in fusion energy research in the Croatian Fusion Research Unit (CRU) based at the Ruđer Bošković Institute.

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