Paris, France

As part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and under the auspices of the French Académie des sciences, France will host the ESFRI 20th anniversary conference: European Research Infrastructures at the heart of scientific discoveries.

Watch the video recording HERE

The conference, taking place in Paris on March 25, will celebrate the achievements of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), highlighting the role it plays in enhancing European excellence in research and innovation. The conference will bring together key stakeholders, including policy experts, facility managers and leading researchers, to explore the drivers behind the development of the rich European research infrastructures landscape and to discuss emerging trends and the challenges for the future. The conference provides an important opportunity to explore the range of cutting-edge work being undertaken across the research domains that are reliant on the services provided by European research infrastructures. Several outstanding scientists will share with the audience their major discoveries and illustrate how they have benefited from the unique European research infrastructures.


Conférence des vingt ans de l’ESFRI. Les infrastructures européennes de recherche au cœur des découvertes scientifiques

Le 25 mars 2022, l’ESFRI, le Forum stratégique européen sur les infrastructures de recherche (ESFRI), célébrera ses vingt ans sous le haut patronage de l’Académie des sciences et sous les auspices de la Présidence française du Conseil de l’Union européenne.

Cette conférence réunira des experts politiques, des dirigeants d'infrastructures et de grands équipements, des chercheurs de premier plan et les acteurs qui contribuent à leur développement. Elle permettra de revenir sur les défis que l'ESFRI a relevé au cours des vingt dernières années, d’en célébrer les réalisations et de débattre des tendances émergentes dans le domaine des infrastructures de recherche en Europe. Il s’agira de donner à voir et à penser l’ESFRI, de valoriser le dispositif exceptionnel qu’il propose aux chercheurs européens et la grande qualité de service qu’il garantit à ses utilisateurs. Scientifiques de renom et jeunes chercheurs présenteront des projets ayant vu le jour grâce à l’environnement favorable de ces infrastructures de recherche européennes.

Agenda for ESFRI 20th Anniversary Conference (PDF)

Watch the video HERE


The ESFRI 20th Anniversary Conference: European Research Infrastructures at the Heart of Scientific Discoveries

March 25, 2022 (All times are CET)

Welcome & Opening Watch the video

09:00 Patrick Flandrin, President of Académie des sciences
09:10 Claire Giry, General Director for Research and Innovation, on behalf of the French Presidency  
09:20 Jean-Eric Paquet, Director General for Research and Innovation, European Commission


Session 1 – 20 Years of European Research Infrastructures Watch the video

09:30 Stéphane van Damme, Ecole normale supérieure, PSL University
A historical view on research infrastructures  Download the presentation

9:50 ESFRI 20 Years’ film screening

10:00 Panel: past & future ESFRI
Barbara Weitgruber, Director General for Scientific Research and International Relations, BMBWF, Austria
Jean-Eric Paquet, Director General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
Giorgio Rossi, ESFRI chair 2016-2018
Jana Kolar, ESFRI Chair 2022-2023


Coffee break  



Session 2 – Fundamental and applied science through European research infrastructures Watch the video
Chair:  Catherine Cesarsky, Académie des sciences, SKA Observatory

11:20 Reinhard Genzel, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, 2020 Laureate Nobel Prize in Physics                                                        
Testing General Relativity and the Existence of Black holes with Large Telescopes and Interferometry  Download the presentation

11:50 Young researcher: Mark Visser, Radboud University, European Social Survey (ESS)
A medley of studies featuring the European Social Survey Download the presentation

12:00 Marine Cotte, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) & CNRS
Deciphering and preserving artworks thanks to synchrotron microscopes Download the presentation

12:20 Philippe Bourges, French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA)
Neutron diffraction and spectroscopy at the next generation neutron source ESS  Download the presentation


Lunch break


Session 3 – Fundamental and applied science led in European research infrastructures Watch the video
Chair: Francis-André Wollman, Académie des sciences, CNRS

14:00 Janet Thornton, Royal Society, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, ELIXIR,                     
The ELIXIR data infrastructure empowers research and discovery in the Life Sciences Download the presentation

14:20 Young researcher: Kaja Dobrovoljc, University of Ljubljana, the Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure (CLARIN)   
Open language resources for smarter artificial intelligence Download the presentation                                                               
14:30 Maria Ina Arnone, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn Napoli, European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC)
What determine the form and the evolution of a living organism: lessons from the sea  Download the presentation                                                                            

14:50 Young researcher: Alexander Schumacher, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)
Determinants of SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations in the 50+ population  Download the presentation

15:00 Pearl Dykstra, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations (ODISSEI)
Science for Policy Requires Research Infrastructures for Policy  Download the presentation                                                                                                                                           

15:20 Young researcher: Rami Alshembari, University of Exeter, European Plate Observing System (EPOS)
Modelling volcano deformation: A Perspective on Recent Developments and Future Challenges. Download the presentation



 Coffee break 


Session 4 – Research infrastructures: impact on society facing contemporary challenges
Moderation by Christian Chardonnet, CNRS 

Round table 1: Protecting the environment, countering climate change Watch the video

Chair and speaker: Sylvie Joussaume, CNRS, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace
Speaker 1: Sanna Sorvari Sundet, Naturel Resources Institute of Finland
Speaker 2: Peter Heffernan, European Union’s Mission Board for Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters

Round table 2: Human health Watch the video

Chair and speaker: Pierre Corvol, Académie des sciences, Collège de France
Speaker 1: Jean Weissenbach, Genoscope, Académie des sciences Download the presentation
Speaker 2: Marialuisa Lavitrano, University of Milano-Bicocca

Round table 3: Industry involvement in research infrastructures Watch the video

Chair and speaker: Sébastien Candel, Académie des sciences, Centrale-Supelec Download the presentation
Speaker 1: Philippe Rioufreyt, Safran-Reosc Download the presentation               
Speaker 2: Anton Ussi, European infrastructure for translational medicine (EATRIS) Download the presentation


ERIC Plates ceremony Watch the video

Jean-Eric Paquet
, Director General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
ERIC plates handover: Euro-BioImaging ERIC, ELI ERIC and AnaEE-ERIC


Closing statements Watch the video

Frédérique Vidal, French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, on behalf of the French Presidency
Petr Gazdík, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport. Czech Republic
Jean-Eric Paquet, Director General for Research and Innovation, European Commission



Hosted by



Auditorium André & Liliane Bettencourt, 3 Rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris, France


Please note that pre-booked rooms are available until 15 March 2022.

Explore the available hotels

The ESFRI 20th Anniversary Conference Outcomes

As part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the French Académie des sciences and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) organized the ESFRI 20th Anniversary Conference: European Research Infrastructures at the heart of scientific discoveries.

The conference took place in Paris, at the Institut de France, on March 25, 2022 and gathered around 300 participants to celebrate the achievements of ESFRI and the importance of the European policies for the development of high-level scientific research capable of meeting the major contemporary challenges.

The conference brought together key stakeholders, including policy experts, facility managers, leading and young researchers, to explore the drivers behind the development of the rich European Research Infrastructures (RIs) landscape and to discuss emerging trends and challenges for the future. The conference provided an important opportunity to explore the range of cutting-edge work being undertaken across the research domains that are reliant on the services provided by European RIs. Several outstanding scientists as well as promising young researchers shared with the audience their major discoveries and illustrated how they have benefited from these unique facilities.

Watch the video recording HERE

In the 1960s, European states created intergovernmental organizations around major disciplinary research instruments. 20 years ago, European states and the European Commission created ESFRI, a strategic forum to foster the scientific integration of Europe by establishing common European RIs, strengthening the global competitiveness of our research and innovation system. ESFRI’s activities not only led to the successful creation of consecutive common RI roadmaps at European level, but also made European states develop dedicated RI roadmaps at national level.

Research infrastructures for fundamental and applied science

RIs are at the heart of scientific discoveries such as the Higgs’ boson at CERN, the observation of a black hole at ESO, the role of the ocean in climate change thanks to ARGO, the evolution of the Universe with the European supercomputers, the study of gravitational waves with LIGO and Virgo interferometers and the genomics databases like EMBL-Bank to study orphan diseases. Synchrotrons are a remarkable example of the interdisciplinarity of RIs, serving thousands of users from all communities, even in humanities, as it is the case for the restoration of works of art.

Major instruments of RIs are also technology accelerators. They support industrial research and development efforts by strengthening their competitiveness. Besides, in terms of job creation, training through research and technology and spin-offs from innovation (start-ups), RIs provide excellent “return on investment”.

Finally, large-scale infrastructures offer extraordinary possibilities of acquisition and exploitation of data, sharing networks and high-performance computing resources to face contemporary challenges and to tackle environmental, climate as well as health issues.

Past, present and future of ESFRI and the impact of Research Infrastructures on society and contemporary challenges

The ESFRI 20th Anniversary Conference created a momentum not only to look back on ESFRI’s achievements but also to discuss emerging trends. The conference illustrated the pioneer and strategic nature of the European policy on RIs, which no Member State would be able to finance alone.

The conference highlighted the dynamics of the development of the European RIs landscape over the past 20 years. The sixth edition of the ESFRI Roadmap, published in 2021, features 41 European RIs already implemented and 22 infrastructure projects that are ‘in the making’. When realised, the total joint investments in these initiatives will exceed 24 billion euros.

ESFRI created a trusted environment where national governments, the scientific community and the European Commission can discuss all topics related to RIs. It developed a methodology for identifying investment priorities in RIs, which is a global role model, both for decision-making at national level and, in particular, for international endeavors. Finally, ESFRI developed a high-level expertise and knowledge about RIs, their development and operation, becoming a knowledge hub for better policymaking.

With the support of ESFRI, RIs are evolving into an interconnected and interoperable ecosystem, which goes beyond the area of research and innovation. RIs are also recognized as important actors of regional development in many spheres of economy and show strong outreach to many sectoral policies and agendas. They are vectors of innovation, talent attractors and catalyst for collaboration.

In the future, new efforts will be needed in order to maintain European RIs at the cutting edge of science and technology, providing them with long term funding for operation and further development. Their impact must be strengthened by promoting services in support of our common policy priorities and by connecting them better with industry so that they can underpin industrial innovation.

In particular, ESFRI will focus on improving its roadmap process, identifying domains where services need to be further developed, filling in the existing gaps. Joint effort of RIs, national governments and the European Commission will also be needed to develop effective funding and operation models ensuring sustainable and inclusive access to RI services and resources. By their nature, RIs require long term investment and therefore further synergies among the variety of funding sources need to be exploited. It is also essential to make sure the existing RIs have the necessary conditions and support to reach their full research and innovation potential and to create favourable conditions for their sustainability.

During the Conference it was confirmed that RIs have the potential to strengthen relations between higher education, research, innovation and services to industry, as well as to society at regional and European level. To make significant advances in areas linked to societal, ecological and economic transitions, RIs must make contributions towards a climate neutral Europe, the recovery from the pandemic and the digital transition.

Support from the Presidencies of the Council of the European Union

Underlining the role ESFRI plays in enhancing European excellence in research and innovation and building on the priorities of preceding presidencies of the Council of the European Union, France welcomes the ESFRI Roadmap 2021 and stresses its support to ESFRI work. France has accompanied the development of the European RI landscape since more than twenty years and is an active member of 48 ESFRI roadmap RIs out of 63. All these 48 RIs are also included into the national roadmap. Further development of a coherent and strategic landscape of RIs should become one of the main conditions and facilitators for the optimization of a common European effort in future deployment of intelligent scientific choices and proper investments into European RIs, to give answers to pressing scientific and societal needs.

Enhancing the strategic work of the presidencies of the Council of the European Union, the upcoming Czech presidency will place RIs in the top priority position and will prepare the Brno declaration on RIs, inviting stakeholders to develop a fully integrated RIs ecosystem. RIs must appear at the forefront of European priorities, assuring that the equipment of excellence supports ambitious and innovative European projects, at the highest international scientific level.


In 20 years, ESFRI succeeded in structuring and strengthening a RIs landscape that enables and promotes excellent science in Europe. As the result of cooperation between European states, the added value of European RIs for each country is multiplied. This capacity creates outstanding conditions for European research and innovation to be globally competitive, enabling Europe’s leadership in a broad range of research and innovation areas and different market sectors.

Looking ahead, the objective must be to take European RIs to the next level. This means recognising the potential of RIs to attract talent, induce innovation and delivering solution to societal challenges without losing sight of the importance to support fundamental excellent science.

To unlock the full potential of RIs we need to make sure that they provide state-of-the-art services and that these services are easily and readily accessible. More efforts are needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of RIs and their connections with innovation ecosystems, including industry.


Outcomes of the ESFRI 20th Anniversary Conference
Rami Alshembari
Rami Alshembari is a PhD student in geophysics and volcanology at the University of Exeter. His main area of expertise is applying physics-based models to help understand the processes controlling the dynamics of active volcanoes and improve eruption fore
Maria Ina Arnone
Maria Ina Arnone, biochemist by training, is a developmental molecular biologist with expertise in gene expression analysis, functional genomics and gene regulatory network (GRN) studies. After a period of three years (1995-1998) at the California Institu
Philippe Bourges
Philippe Bourges is a research director at CEA (French Atomic Institute), working at the laboratoire Léon Brillouin, UMR mixte CEA/CNRS, in the Paris-Saclay university. He was scientific responsible of a neutron spectrometer around the reactor Orphée in
Sébastien Candel
Sébastien Candel est professeur des universités émérite à CentraleSupélec, Université Paris-Saclay. Ses recherches traitent des questions fondamentales des domaines de la combustion et de l’aéroacoustique avec des applications dans les secteurs de l'éner
Catherine Cesarsky
Après avoir animé l'école française des travaux théoriques en astrophysique des hautes énergies, Catherine Cesarsky a joué un rôle clé dans l'évolution de l'astronomie spatiale européenne et française vers l'astronomie infrarouge, puis a lancé les grands
Christian Chardonnet
Christian Chardonnet is research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), a physicist and a former director of laboratoire de Physique des lasers of Université Sorbonne Paris Nord. He was the founder of the recently labelled Fr
Pierre Corvol
Pierre Corvol est professeur émérite et administrateur honoraire du Collège de France. Ses travaux cliniques et expérimentaux ont porté sur les mécanismes hormonaux de régulation de l’hémodynamique cardiovasculaire. Il a établi le rôle crucial du système
Marine Cotte
Following a PhD thesis carried out at the Centre of Research and Restoration of French Museums, (C2RMF, formerly UMR171 CNRS, Paris), on lead-based cosmetics and pharmaceutical compounds used in Antiquity, and a post-doctoral fellowship at the ESRF (Europ
Kaja Dobrovoljc
Kaja Dobrovoljc, a research associate at the University of Ljubljana and Jozef Stefan Institute, holds an undergraduate degree in translation studies and a doctoral degree in Slovene linguistics. Her main research interests lie in the design, creation, an
Pearl Dykstra
Pearl Dykstra is professor of Empirical Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is the Scientific Director of ODISSEI, the Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations in the Netherlands, which received Netherlands Roadmap f
Patrick Flandrin
Patrick Flandrin est directeur de recherche CNRS au Laboratoire de Physique de l'École normale supérieure de Lyon. Ses travaux portent sur la représentation, l'analyse et le traitement des signaux, avec une attention toute particulière pour les situation
Reinhard Genzel
Reinhard Genzel, born 1952 in Bad Homburg v. d. H., Germany, is one of the Directors of Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Professor in the Graduate School of the University of California, Berkeley and an Honorary Professor at the Ludwig M
Peter Heffernan
Peter Heffernan, recently retired as Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Ireland’s national agency for marine research and development, which he lead led the from Nov. 1993 to October 2019. He has spearheaded the organisation’s expansion from a staf
Sylvie Joussaume
Sylvie Joussaume is a senior scientist in climate modelling at CNRS. She has been involved in IPCC assessment reports from the third (2001) to the fifth (2014) reports. Previously she was appointed as director of the “Institut National des Sciences de l’U
Marialuisa Lavitrano
Marialuisa Lavitrano is full professor of Pathology, director of Molecular Medicine Unit and of the Executive Masters’ in Management of Research Infrastructures at Milano-Bicocca University where she was Pro-Rector for International Affairs [2006-2013]. O
Philippe Rioufreyt
After several missions in the field of Optronics, Philippe joined Sfim Industries in 1996. He became Head of R&D department and notably contributed to the merge of Optronics activities with Sagem. In 2007, Philippe became Program Director and led the deve
Alexander Schumacher
Alexander Schumacher is a member of the German country team and junior researcher at the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). SHARE is the largest pan-European social science panel study, providing internationally comparable longitud
Sanna Sorvari Sundet
Sanna Sorvari Sundet, Vice president, Research Infrastructure Services Unit at Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), has made a long career with research infrastructures at the European, Nordic, and National level. Sorvari Sundet coordinated and le
Janet Thornton
Professor Dame Janet Thornton is a research scientist. She is widely credited, alongside others, with the establishment of the new field of Bioinformatics. She graduated in physics before completing her PhD in Biophysics. After research at Oxford Univers
Anton Ussi
Anton Ussi MSc is Operations & Finance Director at EATRIS ERIC, the European infrastructure for translational medicine. Joining EATRIS in 2010, he was co-responsible for the operational design and statutory incorporation of the infrastructure, and has bee
Stéphane Van Damme
Former professor of history of science at the European University Institute, Stéphane Van Damme is a professor in the history department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). His research focuses on modern sciences and European culture from the 16th to
Mark Visser
Mark Visser is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Radboud University (Nijmegen, the Netherlands). His research interests include labor market outcomes, with a specific focus on older workers and retirement, radical voting, social cap
Jean Weissenbach
Jean Weissenbach has directed the Genoscope - Centre national de séquençage within the CEA Genomics Institute (1997-2015). He played a pioneering role in the exploration and analysis of genomes, in particular the human genome. His current research focuses
Francis-André Wollman
Francis-André Wollman is Emeritus Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), a member of the French Academy of Sciences, a member of EMBO. He received the 2000 Silver Medal from the CNRS. In the mid 1970ies, he joined th