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Evaluation of the Large Installations Plan

An evaluation of the experimental Community plan to support and facilitate access to large-scale scientific and technical facilities and installations of European interest (Large Installations Plan, 1989-1992) was carried out during 1991. According to requirements laid down in...
An evaluation of the experimental Community plan to support and facilitate access to large-scale scientific and technical facilities and installations of European interest (Large Installations Plan, 1989-1992) was carried out during 1991. According to requirements laid down in Council Decision 89/238/EEC of 14.03.1989 establishing the plan, a panel was appointed by the Commission to analyse the plan's achievements and to make recommendation on its continuation.

Scientific and technical achievements now beginning to emerge appear to meet the objectives of the plan. However, results in terms of science, the impact of training opportunities, spinoffs and economic impact have long lead times. The effective running time of the plan is therefore too short to permit a full assessment. The quality and practical relevance of the results can be tentatively judged a success, from the viewpoint of scientific need. Of particular note is that nearly 170 proposals were received and evaluated, but only 17 contracts were awarded due to budgetary limitations.

While the evaluation remit was framed in general terms, the panel has suggested that wider access, upgrading of equipment, uniqueness and user orientation should be central aspects of the further actions of Community support.

A survey of users of the Large Installations Plan was undertaken in 1991 to serve as an information base for the evaluation. It sets out to assess to what extent the users have actually gained access to research facilities, and to measure the amount of preparations required before using the installations. It also aims to evaluate the applicability of the programme and to study the degree of scientific cooperation undertaken by the users both before and after the programme started.

As concerns access, the percentage of users having gained access at the time of the survey is significant (66.9%). It is also clear that users have not restricted their engagement in the programme to actual use of the installations; There has been, and still is, a large amount of preparatory work at the laboratories, mainly on experiments but also concerning theoretical work.

User-perception of the general applicability of the programme is clearly related to their use of the installation. Those having gained access rate the usefulness of the programme highest on almost all points. When grouped on previous experience and seniority, users do not have greatly diversified profiles on usefulness. However, grouping the users according to preparatory activities demonstrates that a higher utilization of the programme corresponds to a higher degree of preparation.

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