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Individual implementation and operation of ESFRI projects

Specific challenge: The research infrastructures identified in the ESFRI roadmap or in the European strategy for particle physics have benefitted from EU support for their preparatory phase. Some of them have already moved on to the implementation phase and/or have started their operation. The initial phase is, however, the most delicate and difficult one for new pan-European infrastructures in the process to become fully operational as technologies, services and procedures need to be finalised and best tuned, financial sustainability must be proved and users’ trust and awareness must be gained.

Scope: Under the 2014-2015 work programme this topic will target the implementation and initial operation of new research infrastructures which are identified by ESFRI, in the context of the prioritisation exercise[1], as essential to extend the frontiers of knowledge in the fields concerned and mature enough to be under implementation by 2015-2016. Following the specific conclusions by the Competitiveness Council on the priority list identified by ESFRI and the Council's call upon Member States to concentrate their available national resources on the respective prioritised projects they are financially participating in, the EU will focus the support available for this topic on the following prioritised research infrastructures: ELIXIR, EPOS and the European Spallation Source. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 15-20 million, assessed according to their respective financial volume, would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In addition, under this topic funding can also be provided to the other important ESFRI projects, which have been identified by ESFRI[2], through a comprehensive assessment, as requiring a specific support to complete or launch their construction, thus contributing to the fulfilment of the Innovation Union commitments, or, while already in the implementation phase, as requiring additional support for addressing their sustainability and their European coverage. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2-5 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The new research infrastructures addressed by this topic are the ones that are setting up, or have already set up, their governance and legal structure, notably on the basis of the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) or any suitable structure at European or international level. Support will be provided for implementation and initial operation activities, such as enlargement of the membership, enhancement of the technical architecture, development of innovative components, central coordination, access provision, data management (including possible open access to data), training, outreach, international cooperation, research and innovation activities. Specific attention will be given to the interaction with end-users (notably industry and SMEs). Activities may also foster the development of Regional Partner Facilities. The detailed list of activities that can be supported under this topic is given in part B of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”.

Expected impact:

This activity will:

•   contribute to the realisation of the Innovation Union flagship initiative's Commitment n. 5: ""to complete or launch the construction of 60% of the ESFRI projects by 2015"";

•   strengthen the ERA position and role in the global research environment;

•   reinforce the partnership between the Commission, Member States, Associated Countries and relevant stakeholders in establishing pan-European research infrastructures;

•   enhance the role of the Union in international organisations and multilateral forums;

•   support progress towards the development of global research infrastructures;

•   enable researchers to address societal challenges with a global dimension such as climate change;

•   foster capacity building and Research Infrastructure human capital development in targeted/relevant regions;

•   raise the technological level of the European industry and SME's, thus improving their competitive position, through their involvement in research infrastructures development and service provision.

Type of action:  Research and innovation actions

[1] The conclusions of the December 2012 Competitiveness Council emphasise ""the need for renewing and adapting the mandate of ESFRI to adequately address the existing challenges and also to ensure the follow-up of implementation of already on-going ESFRI projects after a comprehensive assessment, as well as the prioritisation of the infrastructure projects listed in the ESFRI Roadmap""

[2]   These projects are: BBMRI, CESSDA, CLARIN, CTA, DARIAH, ECCSEL, EISCAT-3D, ELI, EMSO, the European Social Survey, SHARE and SKA.