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Pilot for a new model of Integrating Activities

The main objective of this topic is the provision of access to research infrastructures and the harmonisation of national and European procedures for providing access. Proposals will mobilise a comprehensive group of several key research infrastructures in a given large domain as well as other stakeholders (e.g. public authorities, funding agencies, 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.

Proposals should include a plan and effective commitment towards the optimum integration of the research infrastructure services of the different but close communities under the Pilot scheme, as well as activities to monitor the related progress. This integration will be an element of the evaluation of the Pilot scheme and will help developing this scheme in Horizon 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”.]]) including training for the users, if required, as well as some joint activities to facilitate and integrate the access procedures, to improve the services the infrastructures provide and to further develop on-line services. Data management (including ethics issues), interoperability, as well as advanced data and computing services should then be addressed where relevant. Synergistic effects are expected from these different components. Proposals should adopt the guidelines and principles of the European Charter for Access to Research Infrastructures. They should define a data management plan, even when they opt out of the extended Pilot on Open Research Data. When they address the curation, preservation and provision of access to the data collected or produced under the project, 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.

Access should be provided only to research infrastructures of European interest, i.e. those infrastructures able to attract users from countries other than the country where they are located (or group of countries in case of distributed infrastructures). Research infrastructures can be involved as beneficiaries or as third parties, the latter usually structured under a national access provision coordinator or a pan-European research infrastructure. The services they open for trans-national and virtual access under the project and, when relevant, the amount of units of access they make available, must be included in the catalogue of services to which the project will offer access. Projects are encouraged to extend their catalogues under their lifetime, selecting, on the basis of the excellence of their offer of access provision, new research infrastructures of European interest to be involved in the grant. The new research infrastructures should specify, for each of their installations, the services offered and their quality level. In addition for trans-national access, they should also indicate the unit of access, the number of users to be served and the amount of units to be provided to them as well as the related access costs and users' travel and subsistence costs for visiting the infrastructure. The selected research infrastructures can be included in the grants through amendments. To this extent proposals should describe the procedure to select the new infrastructures and earmark appropriate resources.

Proposals should also map and analyse the access modalities adopted by different infrastructures and different countries, and develop and trial models, mechanisms and practices to establish the optimal conditions for the long-term engagement of funders in making trans-national access sustainable beyond the EU funding.

In particular, in line with the excellence-driven access defined in the European Charter for Access to Research Infrastructures, the research infrastructures offering access under the proposals and/or their funding agencies, should aim at adapting their national calls for access (if they launch such calls) to the same excellence based selection procedure used, at European level, in the project.

As the main objective of this topic is the provision of access, at least 60% of the contribution from the EU should be used to cover the related costs (access costs and travel and subsistence of selected users).

Projects shall publicise widely the access offered under the grant to ensure that researchers who might wish to have access to these infrastructures are made aware of the possibilities open to them and, for trans-national access, open specific calls to invite applications for access to all the installations listed in the catalogue. Trans-national and virtual access provision shall follow the rules specified for integrating activities under point (ii) “Trans-national and/or virtual access activities” in part D of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”. Compliance with these provisions will be taken into account during evaluation.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), proposals 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.

Proposals are expected to duly take into account all relevant ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures as well as relevant major European initiatives, 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 this topic is to ensure integration and access to key European infrastructures in a given domain and to avoid duplication of effort, at most one proposal per domain is expected to be submitted.

On the basis of a multiannual plan drafted taking also into account the assessment and the timing of previous grants, this work programme invites proposals addressing the following three domains.

Facilities for research on Atmosphere This activity aims to provide integrated access to and improve the services, included on-line services, of state-of-the-art European ground-based stations for long term observations of aerosols, clouds and short lived gases, key observation and monitoring infrastructures for non-CO2 gas, and instrumented environmental chambers for atmospheric simulation.

Research infrastructures for research in micro-nano technologies for materials. This activity aims to provide integrated access to and improve the services, included on-line services, of key infrastructures (e.g. experimental installations for micro- and nanofabrication, analytical and modelling/simulation facilities) for research in material nanoscience and nanotechnology, ranging from synthesis and nanolithography to advanced characterization and theoretical modelling/numerical simulation. Safety issues of nanoparticles should be taken into account.

Research Infrastructures for advanced optical/IR and radio astronomy. This activity aims to provide integrated access to and improve the services, included on-line services, of the key research infrastructures in Europe for optical/infrared astronomy and advanced radio astronomy, including Very Long Baseline Interferometry.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 15 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 facilitate access to the best research infrastructures of different but close communities gathered in larger domains, ensuring their optimal use and the common improvement of their services.

  • Harmonisation of national and European procedures for providing access and coordination of national and European funders for the provision oftrans-national access to research infrastructures is fostered.
  • Models, mechanisms and practices to establish the optimal conditions for the long-term engagement of funders in making trans-national access sustainable beyond the EU funding are assessed, tested and/or developed
  • Researchers will have simplified and more efficient trans-national access to a wider and integrated set of advanced research infrastructure services, from different but close communities, to conduct leading-edge, multidisciplinary research. They benefit from an increased focus on user needs.
  • 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.
  • 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 research infrastructures, in different but close fields, facilitate cross-disciplinary fertilisations and a wider sharing of information, knowledge and technologies across fields and between academia and 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.