Projects are expected to contribute to all the following expected outcomes:
support to planning and decision making for research infrastructures at the national (e.g. funding bodies, governments) and European level (e.g. ESFRI) through solid science cases, including expected scientific breakthrough, gap analyses and feasibility/design studies for future research infrastructures or major upgrades of existing ones;
a better alignment of the development of the research infrastructure landscape with the advancements of excellent science, frontier research and technology innovation;
increased performance, scientific capacity and excellence of the European research infrastructure landscape;
new services and access opportunities available to the research community, allowing to better tackle scientific and societal challenges;
reduction of environmental (including climate-related) impacts as well as optimisation of resource and energy consumption integrated in the very early phase of development of new research infrastructures or major upgrades of existing ones.
This topic aims at supporting the development of new concepts for the next generation of research infrastructures of European interest, single/multi sited, distributed or virtual, that none or few countries might individually be able to implement. All fields of research can be considered.
Major upgrades of existing infrastructures may also be considered if the end result is significantly transformative and equivalent to a new infrastructure concept. The possibility to extend the scope of already existing infrastructures and/or integrate in a sustainable way existing pan-European and national capacities to address the specific RI service needs, should indeed be assessed as a first option, identifying what is missing and the necessary new developments.
Proposals for RI concept development will tackle all key questions concerning the technical and conceptual feasibility of new or upgraded fully fledged user facilities.
In this respect, proposals should address all following aspects:
demonstrate relevance in relation to ERA, including to the existing landscape, and the expected advancement with respect to the state-of-art of the new or upgraded infrastructure;
highlight the research challenges the new or upgraded research infrastructures will make possible to address, including at global level;
indicate the gaps in the research infrastructure landscape the new or upgraded infrastructure will cover and the synergies with other existing infrastructures at European and global level, including those co-financed from other EU instruments (e.g.: Cohesion policy);
indicate, when relevant, the potential impact of the new research infrastructure at regional level.
Proposals should also convincingly demonstrate that the project will effectively:
identify technologies and the architecture (e.g. single site or distributed, …) for developing the research infrastructure;
identify scientific user communities (and their related needs) that will benefit from access to RI services, including scientific data and instrumentation, and develop the planning of research services to users;
identify governance options as well as strategic approaches for institutional/stakeholders’ commitment and engagement and for ensuring a wide membership;
develop initial financial plans for the implementation and operation of the new or upgraded RI as well as preliminary ideas for long-term sustainability, including synergies with other funds and programmes (e.g.: ERDF);
develop plans for an efficient data curation and preservation and for the provision of access to data collected or produced by the future infrastructure, in line with the FAIR principles.
Proposals considering just a new component of a research infrastructure are not in scope of this topic.
Developing, consolidating and optimising the European research infrastructures landscape, maintaining global leadership (INFRADEV) (2023/24)
Over recent years, the European Commission, Member States (MS) and Associated Countries (AC) have been closely collaborating, in particular within the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), to develop an integrated and efficient ecosystem of research infrastructures (RIs) in Europe, which encompasses single-sited facilities, distributed facilities integrating resources across the European Research Area, as well as networks of national facilities and which serves researchers and engineers in all S&T fields, from basic to applied research. To facilitate integration and pooling of resources for the development of new capacities, a legal instrument has also been developed at European level, the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) that provides favourable conditions for the establishment and operation of large European infrastructures supported jointly by several MSs and ACs as well as by third countries. While Member States remain central in the development and financing of public RIs, the Union and ESFRI play a catalysing and leveraging role in driving the integration between national efforts.
The challenges for the near future are to consolidate and optimise the European Research Infrastructure landscape and enhance its capacity to support frontier research and address the emerging and new scientific and societal objectives associated with the transition towards a sustainable and resilient Europe. In addition, there is the need to define and implement an effective and sound RI strategy in Europe, in close cooperation with ESFRI, MSs and ACs, which is complemented by and interlocks with the long-term ambition of creating an integrated Technology Infrastructure (TI) landscape, the latter is supported in Pillar II of Horizon Europe Programme (HE). Such a strategy would also help in exploiting synergies between RI and TI financed from Horizon and massive investments in infrastructures from ERDF.
This destination aims to create a world-leading coherent, responsive, sustainable and attractive RI landscape in Europe, by reducing its fragmentation at European, national and regional level, ensuring coordination of efforts and fostering alignment of priorities among MSs and ACs, connecting RIs to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), and which is able to support national and regional R&I ecosystems. The support to a European strategy for Research Infrastructures as well as activities to enhance the role of RIs for international cooperation and science diplomacy will also be covered under this destination.
Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to one or several of the following impacts:
Disruptive research and breakthrough science and innovation through cutting-edge, interconnected and sustainable Research Infrastructures;
Strengthened scientific excellence and performance and efficiency of the European Research Area, increasing its attractiveness to researchers from all over the world;
Coordinated research infrastructure capacity among countries and regions, also by exploiting possibilities given by the smart specialisation processes;
Reinforced R&I capacities enabling systemic changes needed for a truly transformative societal and economic recovery and a strengthened resilience of critical sectors, as outlined in the Recovery Plan;
Improved European response, in cooperation with international players, to emerging socio-economic and related scientific and technological challenges at global level.
New project idea for: Research infrastructure concept development (HORIZON-INFRA-2024-DEV-01-01)
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