Building strong research infrastructures for the future
A recently completed EU project has made a significant contribution towards improving Europe's long term research capabilities. Knowledge generation and innovation directly depend on the quality and availability of research infrastructures, which include facilities such as observatories, data banks, radiation sources and communication networks.
The EuroRIs-Net+ project, which ended at the end of September 2013, focused on building on the existing Network of National Contact Points for the Research Infrastructures programme (RIs NCPs). These NCPs provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in EU funding schemes.
Important project results include an increased number of services to the RI scientific communities, industry and public stakeholders at the European and international level. This was achieved through the establishment of a well-structured RI Observatory, an interactive information infrastructure that facilitates access to integrated and updated RI-related information, from national and European sources, and boosts the dialogue between various RIs stakeholders.
The Observatory covers a range of topics including policy issues, recommendations, reports, studies, surveys, articles, National/Regional Roadmaps, Thematic Roadmaps, Research Indicators, RIs projects fact sheets, presentations, information on stakeholders/organisations involved in the RIs, funding schemes and opportunities on transnational access to Research Infrastructures. The new Visualisation section provides information related to Research Infrastructure projects at organisation and country level.
Furthermore, the Stakeholder Forum, which allows online discussions between members, has been upgraded with a number of new functionalities. These include the ability for external users to register/apply for membership to the stakeholder forum and initiate /participate in discussion on RIs. Stakeholder Forum members can also now upload documents to the RI Observatory.
The project has also succeeded in raising awareness about Research Infrastructure events and disseminating information about the opportunities for researchers to visit and work at research facilities across Europe. The end result is that NCPs are now much more effective and organised, and as prepared as they can be for the forthcoming Horizon 2020 programming period. The EuroRIs-Net+ project received EU funding to the tune of EUR 1 199 043.
The overall objective of the 'Research infrastructures' part of the FP7 Capacities programme is to optimise the use and development of the best research infrastructures existing in Europe. The programme also aims to help create new research infrastructures of pan-European interest in all fields of science and technology.
It is clear that the European scientific community needs these to remain at the forefront of research, which will also help industry to strengthen its base of knowledge and technological know-how. The results of the EuroRIs-Net+ project will go some way towards realising these objectives.