ESFRI identifies the investment needs in research facilities of pan-European importance that are necessary to strengthen scientific excellence and competitiveness in the European Research Area. They are of such magnitude and scope that countries need to pool their resources to build them. The European Commission has been supporting the development of these infrastructures from the successive EU funding programmes for research and innovation. Under Horizon 2020, the current funding programme, €214 million will be made available through competitive calls in 2018-2019. Once implemented, the infrastructures in the ESFRI roadmap will provide open access to resources and services for all scientists across Europe.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said:
Europe needs top-class research infrastructures to generate new knowledge that helps tackle the environmental and social challenges our societies are facing. Horizon 2020 has greatly contributed to the progress we have achieved so far together with the scientific community and national governments, and it will continue to support new, ambitious endeavors that are necessary for further progress.
The 2018 roadmap now consists of 18 'ESFRI Projects', which are new initiatives in development phase requiring around €2.9 billion of investments in the coming years, and 37 'ESFRI Landmarks', identifying key research infrastructures that are being implemented or have been completed, representing an overall capital value of around €14.4 billion.
The six new facilities will help push the boundaries of science in the following areas:
- IFMIF-DONES: A facility for testing, validation and qualification of the materials to be used in a fusion reactor (coordinated by Spain)
- DiSSCo: An infrastructure integrating natural history collections of major European institutions (coordinated by The Netherlands)
- eLTER: An infrastructure integrating ecosystem research sites across Europe (coordinated by Germany)
- Health and Food
- EU-IBISBA: A multidisciplinary research and innovation infrastructure for industrial biotechnology (coordinated by France)
- METROFOOD-RI: An infrastructure for metrology services in food and nutrition throughout the value chain (coordinated by Italy)
- Social and cultural innovation
- EHRI: An infrastructure for research on Holocaust (coordinated by The Netherlands)
The new roadmap also identified two areas with high potential for the development of new research infrastructures: religious studies and transition to open science.
In addition, it highlights the increasing role of research infrastructures in the rapid development of data-driven research and growing focus on enabling innovation. It also underlines the need for a comprehensive strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the European research infrastructure ecosystem.