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Research excellence requires excellent Research Infrastructures (RI) which not only support research but also lead its development into new directions and create an attractive environment for world-class researchers. Operating at a different level from the EU Member States’ European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI), many ESF Member Organisations fund, operate and access research infrastructures of national and European importance. As these are not the focus of ESFRI, ESF Member Organisations have identified the need to establish a network of stakeholders complementary to ESFRI for discussing and sharing best practice in funding and operating the transnational research infrastructures. To this end the decision was made at ESF Governing Council in April 2008 to launch a Member Organisation (MO) Forum on this important topic. The MO Forum was launched on 11-12 January 2010 in Strasbourg and it attracted delegates from more than 23 Member Organisations and convened observers from the European Commission, ERC, ERF, ESFRI and ALLEA.
The ESF Member Organisation Forum on Research Infrastructures is created as a platform for discussing joint investments in the creation of, networking, and access to research infrastructures, as well as evaluation and benchmarking.
The Forum will develop comprehensive tools for the adequate treatment of research infrastructure related topics (funding procedures, access rules, running costs, personnel, replacement, etc.). The aim is to gradually evolve the Forum into a network through stakeholder workshops, by initiating research infrastructure specific user-meetings and interaction with scientists including ESF Committees and instrument suppliers to identify new developments. The Forum will develop recommendations on requirements for research infrastructures.
Through the MERIL project, the Forum is looking forward to updating and upgrading the inventory of national research infrastructures with European significance which was initiated by the EUROHORCs, the European Commission and the ESF.
A first set of four important actions relating to Research Infrastructures was identified:
1. Access and Standards
Collect current existing information on standards
Produce a new definition of the minimum requirements on how RIs should organise external access
Elaborate an extended definition containing additional criteria for each specific research discipline
2. Funding and Evaluation
Issue recommendations for joint cross border funding of the operating costs (by transnational users)
Encourage external access to RIs
3. Mobility and Networks
Develop support and sustainability mechanism for networks (development of funding schemes and/or incentives)
Enable networking of RIs (by offering opportunities for RI specific workshops, user-meetings, interaction with external scientists/industry to exchange expertise, identify new developments)
Develop a mapping/landscape/overview of the existing RIs in Europe.
For more information please contact mo-fora[at]esf.org