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Design studies


  Specific challenge: New leading-edge research infrastructures in all fields of science and technology are needed by the European scientific community in order to remain at the forefront of the advancement of research, and to be able to help industry strengthen its base of knowledge and its technological know-how. The aim of this activity is to support the conceptual and technical design and preparatory actions for new research infrastructures, which are of a clear European dimension and interest. Major upgrades of existing infrastructures may also be considered if the end result is intended to be equivalent to, or capable of replacing, an existing infrastructure.

Scope: Design studies should address all key questions concerning the technical, legal and financial feasibility of new or upgraded facilities, leading to a 'conceptual design report' showing the maturity of the concept and forming the basis for identifying and constructing the next generation of Europe's and the world's leading research infrastructures. Conceptual design reports will present major choices for design alternatives and associated cost ranges, both in terms of their strategic relevance for meeting today's and tomorrow's societal challenges, and (where applicable) in terms of the technical work underpinning the development of new or upgraded research infrastructures of European interest. All fields of science are considered.

The activities that could be performed in a Design Study proposal include:

-    Scientific and technical work, i.e. (1) the drafting of concepts and engineering plans for the construction, as well as the creation of final prototypes for key enabling technologies and implementation plans for transfer of knowledge from existing prototypes to the new research infrastructure; (2) scientific and technical work to ensure that the beneficiary scientific communities exploit the new facility from the start with the highest efficiency, including the introduction of new processes or software.

-    Strategic work, i.e. (1) plans to integrate harmoniously the new infrastructure into the European fabric of related facilities in accordance, whenever appropriate, with the Community objective of balanced territorial development; (2) the identification of the best possible site(s) for setting up new facilities; (3) the estimated budget for construction and operation (4) the design of a workable legal (e.g. an ERIC) and governance structure; (5) the planning of research services to be provided at international level.          

The main outcomes of the projects funded under this action will be conceptual or technical design reports for new or upgraded research infrastructures,

When the Design study includes scientific and technical work it should be implemented as a Research and innovation action, otherwise as a Coordination and support action. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact

  • Funding bodies for research infrastructures become aware of the strategic and funding needs of the scientific community.
  • Policy bodies at the national level (e.g. funding bodies, governments), at European level (e.g. ESFRI) and internationally (e.g. the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Global Science Forum) have a sound decision basis to establish long-range plans and roadmaps for new research infrastructures of pan-European or global interest.

         The technical work carried out under this topic will contribute to strengthening the technological development capacity and effectiveness as well as the scientific performance, efficiency and attractiveness of the European Research Area.

Type of action: Coordination and support actions or Research and innovation actions