Historical background

In 1931, the cyclotron technology was invented by Lawrence in the US and by 1937 the first European cyclotron became operational in Leningrad. Belgium was involved in the nuclear isotope history as soon as 1943 due to its sources of uranium ore in the former Belgian Congo. Belgium also built its first cyclotron in 1947. This involvement in nuclear physics and radionuclides production led to the creation of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN) in 1952 and the National Institute for Radioelements (IRE) in 1971. With these two large R&D and production centres, Belgium became one of the few countries in the world able to process and supply industrial scale amounts of medical radionuclides, in particular Molybdenum 99 (99Mo). With the creation of IBA (Ion Beam Applications) in 1986, as a spin-off of the Cyclotron Research Centre of the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium entered in the field of cyclotrons manufacturing and is now the largest producer of radiopharmacy and proton therapy equipment in the world.