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Integrating Activities for Starting Communities

A 'Starting Community' has never been supported for the integration of its infrastructures under FP7 or Horizon 2020 calls, in particular within an integrating activity.

An Integrating Activity will mobilise a comprehensive consortium of several key research infrastructures in a given field as well as other stakeholders (e.g. public authorities, technological partners, research institutions) from different Member States, Associated Countries and other third countries[[See the Eligibility and admissibility conditions for this call.]] when appropriate, in particular when they offer complementary or more advanced services than those available in Europe.

Funding will be provided to support, in particular, the trans-national and virtual access provided to European researchers (and to researchers from Third Countries under certain conditions[[See part D of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”.]]), the cooperation between research infrastructures, scientific communities, industry and other stakeholders, the improvement of the services the infrastructures provide, the harmonisation, optimisation and improvement of access procedures and interfaces. Proposals should adopt the guidelines and principles of the European Charter for Access to Research Infrastructures.

To this extent, an Integrating Activity shall combine, in a closely co-ordinated manner:

(i) Networking activities, to foster a culture of co-operation between research infrastructures, scientific communities, industries and other stakeholders as appropriate, and to help develop a more efficient and attractive European Research Area;

(ii) Trans-national access or virtual access activities, to support scientific communities in their access to the identified key research infrastructures;

(iii) Joint research activities, to improve, in quality and/or quantity, the integrated services provided at European level by the infrastructures.

All three categories of activities are mandatory as synergistic effects are expected from these different components.

Access should be provided only to key research infrastructures of European interest, i.e. those infrastructures able to attract significant numbers of users from countries other than the country where they are located. Other national and regional infrastructures in Europe can be involved, in particular in the networking activities, for the exchange of best practices, without necessarily being beneficiaries in the proposal.

The research infrastructures of a 'Starting Community' usually show a limited degree of coordination and networking at present. The strongest impact of an integrating activity is expected typically to arise from a focus on networking, standardisation and establishing a common access procedure for trans-national and/or virtual access provision.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), Integrating Activities should, whenever appropriate, pay due attention to any related international initiative (i.e. outside the EU) and foster the use and deployment of global standards.

Integrating Activities should also organise the efficient curation, preservation and provision of access to the data collected or produced under the project, defining a data management plan, even when they opt out of the extended Pilot on Open Research Data. Data management (including ethics and privacy issues), interoperability, as well as advanced data and computing services should be addressed where relevant. To this extent, proposals should build upon the state of the art in ICT and e-infrastructures for data, computing and networking, and ensure connection to the European Open Science Cloud.

Integrating Activities should, when relevant, contribute to fostering the potential for innovation, including social innovation, of research infrastructures by reinforcing the partnership with industry, public administrations and/or other stakeholders, through e.g. transfer of knowledge and other dissemination activities, activities to promote the use of research infrastructures by industrial researchers or policy-makers, involvement of industrial associations and other stakeholders in consortia or in advisory bodies.

Integrating Activities are expected to duly take into account all relevant ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures to exploit synergies, to reflect on sustainability and to ensure complementarity and coherence with the existing European Infrastructures landscape.

Proposals should include clear indicators allowing the assessment of the progress towards the general and specific objectives, other than the access provision.

As the scope of an integrating activity is to ensure coordination and integration between all the key European infrastructures in a given field and to avoid duplication of effort, at most one proposal per field is expected to be submitted.

Further conditions and requirements that applicants should fulfil when drafting a proposal are given in part D of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”. Compliance with these provisions will be taken into account during evaluation.

Integrating activities for starting communities range across all areas of science and technology. Proposals should not restrict their services to too narrow research fields and should address the wider scientific communities, even multidisciplinary ones, which can be served by the involved sets of research infrastructures.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

European researchers need effective and convenient access to the best research infrastructures in order to conduct research for the advancement of knowledge and technology. The aim of this action is to bring together, integrate on European scale, and open up key national and regional research infrastructures to all European researchers, from both academia and industry, ensuring their optimal use and joint development.

  • Researchers will have wider, simplified, and more efficient access to the best research infrastructures they require to conduct their research, irrespective of location. They benefit from an increased focus on user needs.
  • New or more advanced research infrastructure services, enabling leading-edge or multidisciplinary research, are made available to a wider user community.
  • Operators of related infrastructures develop synergies and complementary capabilities, leading to improved and harmonised services. , . Economies of scale and improved use of resources across Europe are also realised due to less duplication of services, common development and the optimisation of operations.
  • When applicable, innovation is fostered through a reinforced partnership of research infrastructures with industry.
  • A new generation of researchers is educated that is ready to optimally exploit all the essential tools for their research.
  • Closer interactions between larger number of researchers active in and around a number of infrastructures facilitate cross-disciplinary fertilisations and a wider sharing of information, knowledge and technologies across fields and between academia and non-academic stakeholders, including industry.
  • The integration of major scientific equipment or sets of instruments and of knowledge-based resources (collections, archives, structured scientific information, data infrastructures, etc.) leads to a better management of the continuous flow of data collected or produced by these facilities and resources.
  • When applicable, the integrated and harmonised access to resources at European level can facilitate the use beyond research and contribute to evidence-based policy making.
  • When applicable, the socio-economic impact of past investments in research infrastructures from the European Structural and Investment Funds is enhanced.