Other international research organisations: SESAME, ELI, SEEIIST, DUNE and GBC

The MS beamline, which has been in operation at SESAME since 2020, is based on components donated by the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). © SESAME

Switzerland is involved in other international research organisations and projects, both as an observer and an active participant contributing its know-how and technical expertise. SERI is responsible for managing these activities, from drawing up a financial framework to evaluating the benefits of participation and signing an international agreement. Representatives from the relevant Swiss scientific communities are closely involved in this work.

Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME)

SESAME is an international research organisation that operates a third-generation synchrotron light source in Jordan. SESAME was officially opened in 2017, more than 20 years after the start of the project. Researchers from all over the world have been able to apply for beam time and conduct their experiments there since 2018. Today SESAME's offering has grown to five beamlines. The member states of SESAME are Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey. Switzerland has held observer status on the SESAME Council since 2010. Other observers include Brazil, Canada, China, CERN, the EU, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the USA. SESAME was developed under the auspices of UNESCO taking CERN as a model, and has two main objectives: strengthening scientific capacities in the Middle East and at the same time promoting peace in the region. This gives the project a strong diplomatic dimension, as was the case with CERN at the time of its foundation in 1954.

SERI represents Switzerland on the SESAME Council. As an observer, Switzerland does not pay any membership contributions, but it does provide funding for SESAME on an ad-hoc basis. For example, SERI awarded funding to the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in 2020 to enable renovations on part of the accelerator.

Extreme Light Infrastructure ERIC (ELI ERIC)

The ELI ERIC is a high-power laser infrastructure, which currently consists of the ELI Beamlines facility in the Czech Republic and the ELI-ALPS facility in Hungary. This infrastructure has been available to scientists from all over the world since 2022. The powerful lasers enable cutting-edge research in materials science, physics and biology. ELI was established in 2021 in the legal form of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). This structure is similar in many ways to an international research organisation, but is based on EU law.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and Lithuania are founding members of ELI, while Germany and Bulgaria are founding observers. The European Regional Development Fund was the main source of funding for the construction of the two ELI sites. Its members and observers ensure the operation of the research infrastructure. ELI will integrate a third facility, the ELI-NP in Romania, in the next few years.

Switzerland is neither a member nor an observer of ELI. Nevertheless, the Photon Science Roadmap published by the Swiss Society for Photon Science in 2021 describes ELI as having promising capacities that are not available anywhere else, and therefore recommends monitoring the development of this infrastructure and re-evaluating Swiss partnership or financial support in the future. Funding from the second Swiss contribution is earmarked for both Hungary and the Czech Republic to carry out bilateral ELI projects.

South East European International Institute for Sustainable Technologies (SEEIIST)

SEEIIST is to become an infrastructure for tumour therapy and biomedical research in South East Europe (exact location not yet defined). The first patients are to be treated at the proton therapy centre from 2029. This therapy centre would be the first of its kind in South East Europe, the region with the highest cancer mortality rate in Europe. What makes this infrastructure unique is its dual purpose: biomedical research will be conducted there alongside the treatment of cancer patients. Like SESAME and CERN, SEEIIST has a distinct diplomatic character aimed at using science to facilitate peace. CERN, UNESCO, the European Commission and other related infrastructures and institutions are supporting SEEIIST in its formative phase. The SEEIIST Association is currently based at CERN.

Participants in SEEIIST are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece. The HITRIplus project funded as part of the Horizon 2020 programme aims to establish the technical basis for the future SEEIIST infrastructure and to assemble the required expertise in South East Europe. The Paul Scherrer Institute is contributing to HITRIplus along with participants from Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Malta.

The FDFA has been working with SEEIIST to draw up a science diplomacy roadmap during its preparatory phase. SERI is monitoring the project at a technical and scientific level.

Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE)

The DUNE project aims to advance research in the field of particle physics. The LBNF infrastructure will generate the world's most intense beam of high-energy neutrinos. The facility comprises two sites, one at Fermilab near Chicago, Illinois, and one at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota (USA). An international collaboration will manage the funding and implementation of the project, which is expected to generate results in particle physics that form an essential complement to the research carried out at CERN.

Swiss researchers in the field of neutrino physics, particularly from the Universities of Bern, Basel and ETH Zurich, are making a significant contribution to this infrastructure. The European contribution to LBNF/DUNE is being prepared by CERN, which is designing and building one of the experiment's detectors. The Federal Council decided in May 2019 to provide funding for the in-kind contribution to LBNF/DUNE currently being developed at CERN.

Global Biodata Coalition (GBC)

The Global Biodata Coalition (GBC) is an association of research funding organisations that support bioinformatics databases and analytical tools, known as biodata resources. These resources have taken on crucial importance in recent years, for example in the context of research on the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The rapid availability of relevant gene sequences and other analytical results played an essential role in the rapid scientific response to the novel virus. Biodata resources are growing exponentially due to their essential function for cutting-edge research.

The GBC aims to harmonise the complex landscape of biodata resources and ensure their long-term sustainability for the benefit of research. The GBC is intended to serve as a coordination platform for the organisations that fund the world's most important biodata resources.

Switzerland's SIB (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics) operates various biodata resources relevant to the project. SERI has been a member of the GBC since 2020 and provides financial support.


SERI, Xavier Reymond
Head of the International Research Organisations Unit
T +41 58 462 34 52