Research Infrastructures (RIs) are facilities, resources and services that are used by the research communities to conduct research. RIs can be ‘single-sited’, ‘virtual’, or ‘distributed’. They can include for instance: major scientific equipment (or sets of instruments); skilled personnel engaged in services, competence development and outreach; knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives or scientific data; and e-infrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks.
RIs are of strategic importance in the context of the European Research Area (ERA) because excellence in research requires excellent infrastructures for data collection, management, processing, analysing, and archiving.
The majority of funding for the construction and operation of RIs is granted at national level. A co-ordinated development of future policies and funding schemes related to RIs is crucial to improve efficiency. Research Funding and Performing Organisations, as funders, hosts, or operators of RIs play, and will continue to play, a significant role in that respect.
Science Europe aims to facilitate meaningful dialogue between RIs funders, operators and scientific communities and promote mutual learning and provision of guidance, ensure relevant consolidated contribution to ERA initiatives related to RIs (for example Horizon 2020 and the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures – ESFRI), and liaise with the relevant players and initiatives at European and global levels (such as the European Commission and the OECD Global Science Forum).
Science Europe ran a dedicated Working Group on Research Infrastructures from 2013 to 2017, composed of experts from its Member Organisations.