11 September 2018
The fifth Strategy Report and Roadmap 2018 of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures has been launched, with substantial contributions from key UK research organisations, reinforcing the importance of the UK as a major global centre of research and innovation.
The ESFRI Roadmap 2018 demonstrates the high merit and potential of European collaboration in developing an interoperable Research Infrastructure ecosystem and its importance as a key asset of Europe. The new Roadmap covers the ESFRI Landmark portfolio of 37 long-term engagements in all fields of science and 18 ESFRI Projects, with 6 new entries in the Energy, Environmental research, Health and Food and Social and Cultural Innovation domains.
UK experts hold a number of strategic and critical support roles providing leadership for ESFRI and the UK has substantial involvement in ESFRI’s six Strategic Working Groups (broad discipline strategic groups responsible for both the landscape analysis and the roadmap) and two Ad Hoc working groups.
In a joint statement by the UK delegation, from the launch event in Austria, Dr Gabriela Pastori from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Professor Andrew Harrison the Diamond Light Source CEO said “There is a broad consensus in the UK that future competitiveness in a globalised knowledge economy depends on research capability. Research infrastructures represent long term strategic investments, providing competitive and open access to high quality facilities with a mission to enable and develop excellence and are an essential component of research capability in many scientific domains.
“Coordination of research infrastructures at European (and global) scale continues to be increasingly important, to drive joint strategies and joint investments, to ensure a continuous focus on excellence and that the level of investments remain at the cutting edge, to maximize effective use of public funds and the benefits of data sharing, and to fully exploit research infrastructures as innovation and skills hubs.
“ESFRI is at present the most influential strategic instrument to enable this coordination and, with it, the scientific integration of Europe and the strengthening of its international outreach. The new ESFRI Roadmap includes new projects and landmarks with the UK as a major and active contributor and presents an interconnected landscape that aims to fully exploit synergies between scientific domains and promote interdisciplinarity.”
The UK is a prospective member in three of the six new projects announced in this latest roadmap and overall the UK is involved in just under half of all ESFRI projects and three quarters of all the landmarks announced at the launch event. In addition the UK leads four of the ESFRI landmarks, just over 10% of the total.
The issues of sustainability of Research Infrastructures, the impact on innovation, the construction of Open Science and the open data management are also addressed in the new document.
The ESFRI Roadmap is a collective work: over 250 individuals from all over Europe were involved in the permanent and the ad hoc Working Groups, the Forum and the European Commission providing knowledge, analysis and discussion to form a collective vision for European Research Infrastructures to inspire European science policy for maximizing competitiveness.
The UK (through UKRI STFC) also leads the Horizon2020 funded project to support and reinforce ESFRI, which has included technical support in the preparation of the roadmap and its processes. The UK, through UKRI STFC, has just been awarded €1.5m to coordinate the next Horizon 2020 project to support and reinforce ESFRI until 2022.