Europe has at its disposal some of the best science facilities in the world. They enable our researchers to pursue the greatest of scientific goals. The growing global competition and pressing societal challenges require however additional efforts to reinforce the capacity of European research to develop science-based solutions that can effectively lead the economic, social and environmental transitions and improve the everyday life of European citizens. In “Making Science Happen” the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) presents its vision for how Research Infrastructures can help meeting the challenges of the new European Research Area (ERA).

Brussels, 27 April 2020

Responding to the new emphasis on environmental, social and economic goals, the renewed ERA envisions stronger contributions of Research and Innovation activities to Europe’s wider policy objectives, such as increasing Europe’s competitiveness and identifying significant solutions to global challenges. European Research Infrastructures are a key element to make this happen.

“Our vision is an ecosystem of excellent Research Infrastructures broadly enabling ground-breaking research. An advanced and integrated system of Research Infrastructures provides crucial services for researchers and innovators, thus enabling the generation of scientific knowledge underpinning our capacity to respond to major societal challenges,” illustrates ESFRI Chair, Jan Hrusak, of J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, how ESFRI looks to the future.

The EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Ms. Mariya Gabriel, underlined that we can achieve our big, common objectives, and make Europe a better place to live, only by pulling together what we have best in Europe, across countries and disciplines: “I believe this White Paper will further strengthen Europe’s capacity to develop science based solutions that will help tackle global challenges and directly benefit European citizens. Europe’s research infrastructures have been key to the way we have been able to pool our resources in our response to the coronavirus. Let’s work together to make sure that we continue to produce some of the best science in the world.”

ESFRI vision for European Research Infrastructures in the new ERA

The ESFRI vision relies on developing a robust, connected ecosystem of Research Infrastructures, based on the highest scientific standards. This requires consolidating the existing Research Infrastructure landscape and continuously strengthening its capacity through investments in unique, cutting-edge scientific instrumentation and services, and working jointly to serve researchers’ needs across disciplines.

This vision is intimately related to achieving the following objectives:

  1. Research: maintain an absolute edge globally in Research Infrastructure capabilities to serve ambitious, curiosity- and demand-driven, societally relevant, scientific and technological research, thereby increasing the attractiveness of the ERA for researchers, industrial users and international partners
  2. Innovation: accelerate the exploitation of European Research Infrastructures as knowledge and innovation hubs, boosting their role as drivers of economic growth, social and environmental transitions, and place-based innovation
  3. Education: engage Research Infrastructures and Higher Education institutions in specialized training of students, young academics and industrial scientists on next-generation technologies, inter-disciplinary methodologies and data management skills
  4. Policies: increase coherence between European, national and regional priorities and policies for Research Infrastructure development and funding, and effective synergies with other European policies and funding instruments
  5. Data: exploit the data science and data engineering expertise of Research Infrastructures for the development of the European Open Science Cloud

Jan Hrusak concludes: “Achieving this vision will require a strengthened partnership in the ERA among Member States and Associated Countries, the European Commission and the scientific community. I am convinced that, building on almost 20 years of experience, with strengthened capacity and increased effectiveness, ESFRI can lead the way.”

For more details please visit the White Paper website. Join us also on 15 May 2020 at the, fully digital, Croatian Presidency Conference ‘European Research Infrastructures for a Smarter Future’ for a discussion on how to take this ambitious vision forward. Details are coming soon on the ESFRI website.

ESFRI and the European Research Infrastructures

Research Infrastructures are facilities that provide resources and services for research communities to conduct research and foster innovation. They are a key pillar of the European Research Area (ERA) and one of its most successful achievements to date. Over the last 18 years, within the framework of ESFRI and the ESFRI Roadmap process, national governments have worked in close partnership with the European Commission and the scientific community to catalyse the development of pan-European Research Infrastructures (RIs) and to foster collaboration and networking among them. This has led to the establishment of over 50 European Research Infrastructures, mobilising investments of approximately €20 billion across the EU and radically transforming the availability of state-of-the-art facilities for our scientists and innovators.

ESFRI and the European Research Infrastructures ecosystem responds to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency

ESFRI believes that the opportunities provided by European Research Infrastructures to support the science-led response to the COVID-19 outbreak are extremely important. ESFRI is helping the scientific community by aggregating information about dedicated services offered by Research Infrastructures and communicating all relevant actions as broadly as possible. To this end, ESFRI has created the focused webpage www.esfri.eu/covid-19 that lists and provides quick links to the information gathered.

This ESFRI initiative feeds into a larger set of coordinated R&I actions at EU level presented in the #ERAvsCorona Action Plan. The Action Plan sets out key measures to coordinate, share, and increase support for R&I.