The focus of PALLAS is on medical isotopes. A relevant question for PALLAS’ business case is how the market for medical isotopes will develop and whether they will remain as vital in the future. Based on discussions with many international doctors, researchers and radiopharmaceutical companies, and of course on market reports, PALLAS has made an analysis of this. It is expected that the demand for medical isotopes will continue to increase, partly due to an aging population, better (world) health care and more and more new forms of therapy. See for example the publications of the RIVM (see box) on recent medical trends, which underpin the need for PALLAS.
For the preparatory work, the State (the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate and Province of North Holland) provided an €80 million loan in 2014. In 2019, Minister Bruins of Medical Care indicated in a parliamentary letter that he would financially support PALLAS, as did Minister Van Ark in 2020. The Foundation Preparation Pallas-reactor works on a safe, efficient and sustainable design, takes care of the necessary permits and prepared a solid business case.
Private or public funding
PALLAS has had dozens of conversations with investors. Several discussions took place with some investors based on a serious interest in this investment proposition. It is a proposition that, without exception, is considered unique: this is the first privately financed nuclear reactor for the production of isotopes in the world.
However, private funding based on conditions acceptable to the government is not (yet) feasible at this time according to the government. In her letter to the House of Representatives dated December 9, 2020, Minister Van Ark for Medical Care and Sport reported that the Cabinet considers it important to take a decision soon on how the security of supply of medical isotopes can be guaranteed for the future. This can be done, on the one hand, by gaining a good understanding of the costs, revenues and associated risks of the public variant for PALLAS and, on the other hand, by gaining a good understanding of the alternatives. In the spring of 2021, the Minister informed the House of Representatives about this. The Dutch government will take a final decision on the arrival of the new reactor.
In his letter to the House of Representatives dated January 21, 2022, Minister Ernst Kuipers stated that the central question is whether the Netherlands will continue its leading role in the security of supply of medical isotopes or whether we consider a greater international dependence and uncertainties about future availability acceptable and proportional.
Minister Kuipers of Health, Welfare and Sport announced September 20, 2022, that money has been set aside for the construction of the PALLAS-reactor, in the coming years. The ministry is reserving 30 million euros for the project in 2022 and 129 million euros per year from next year.
The financial reserves now set by the Cabinet for the coming years are a huge boost for nuclear medicine, knowledge and innovation and for the Netherlands. The Cabinet is expected to take a final decision on the remaining investment costs in spring 2023.
ICHOS and PALLAS are designing an innovative reactor that will guarantee large-scale diagnostic and therapeutic isotopes for millions of patients worldwide over the next 60 years. The arrival of the PALLAS-reactor will enable the Netherlands to continue and expand its role as the world’s top producer of radiopharmaceuticals. The construction of a reactor for the medical world is unique. It has been sixty years since the High Flux Reactor was built in the Netherlands and the PALLAS-project is the most advanced initiative in Europe. The project has unique challenges that continuously demand intelligent solutions from the now more than 300 people who are working on it every day.