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Mapping of European Research Infrastructure Landscape

Final Report Summary - MERIL (Mapping of European Research Infrastructure Landscape)

Executive summary

Research excellence requires high quality research infrastructures that not only support research but also lead its development in new directions and create an attractive environment for world-class researchers. Research Infrastructures which promote research, education and innovation are thus integral to the European research system.

The MERIL project (Mapping of the European Research Infrastructure Landscape) is a pan-European effort to produce and maintain a comprehensive inventory of research infrastructures of major relevance in Europe across all scientific domains, accessible to the public through an interactive online portal.

There has been consensus for some time in Europe that the scientific and policy communities would benefit from a comprehensive inventory of research infrastructures of European relevance. The MERIL (Mapping of the European Research Infrastructure Landscape) project was developed to address this need.

In July 2009 the European Commission (EC) issued a Call under Framework Programme 7 (FP7) aimed at improving on an earlier 'European Portal on Research Infrastructures' Services'. With the support of key stakeholders, ESF (European Science Foundation) submitted a proposal to the European Commission in December 2009. The MERIL project was subsequently launched in October 2010 with an initial duration of two years.

The specific objective of the MERIL project was thus to design, construct and populate a comprehensive database of European Research Infrastructures (RI) which would be accessible to the public via an online portal. En route to the achievement of this objective, the MERIL project met the challenge to:
- Produce a commonly agreed definition and set of criteria for the inclusion of European Research Infrastructures which were adopted by all stakeholders that supported the mapping;
- Identify RIs in Europe of 'more-than-national' relevance;
- Gather data on them;
- Secure the commitment of stakeholders at all levels, to ensure the sustainable development of the database and portal.

The main deliverable of the project is thus a redesigned and reconstructed database (https://portal.meril.eu) containing (as of December 2012) approximately 900 European RIs of more-than-national relevance across all scientific domains and RI categories. Moreover, the portal is designed to be updated on a regular basis and will be continuously open to new entries that meet the eligibility criteria.

The MERIL database and portal will facilitate more extensive analysis of the European research infrastructure landscape than has heretofore been possible. MERIL is consequently a unique tool for scientists, policy makers and research funders, as well as other stakeholders. In the long term, the expected impacts include optimised exploitation of the services and collaborative possibilities offered by existing RIs as well as joint foresight with gap and needs analysis. The mapping will also ensure compatibility between plans for future European RIs as expressed in European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures' (ESFRI) roadmaps and the development of existing RIs.

Such is the significance and potential of MERIL that it continues in 2013 beyond the horizon of the EC project with the financial support of the European Science Foundation's member organisations. In 2013, efforts will focus on consolidating and exploiting the database, as well as exploring needs for new features and data in line with the evolution of the RI landscape, and ensuring a sustainable future for the portal.

Project context and objectives

Research excellence requires excellent research infrastructures which not only support research but also lead its development into new directions and create an attractive environment for world-class researchers. Research Infrastructures which promote research, education and innovation are integral to the European research system. They are the vehicle supporting the development of research skills and knowledge.

There is broad agreement that the widening of access to research infrastructures across geographical and disciplinary borders would foster the creation of a true European Research Area. An inventory of research infrastructures was held to be a highly desirable tool for two main reasons: first, to enable scientists to locate and get access to available facilities and services for their research; and second, to allow funding and research organisations to analyse the European RI landscape, also with a view to informing investment decisions, including joint ventures where appropriate.

In the report 'EUROHORCs and ESF Vision on a Globally Competitive ERA and their Road Map for Actions' (2009), the ESF and the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs) highlighted the need to develop shared funding and exploitation of research infrastructures. In January 2010, the ESF launched a Member Organisation Forum on Research Infrastructures (MOFRI) to address this issue among its members and with other key players in Europe. Complementing the work of ESFRI on future needs for pan-European RIs, the Forum focussed on the efficient utilisation of existing RIs, including the need for an inventory of existing RIs on national and European level both as a baseline for policy-making and as a valuable source of information for scientists. The importance of research infrastructures to the European Research Area was further endorsed in the 'Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union' communication of the European Commission (2010).

In 2009 the European Commission issued a call to update and upgrade an earlier RI inventory (www.riportal.eu) to which the ESF responded with a successful proposal for the MERIL project (Mapping the European RI Landscape) in line with the objectives of the MO Forum on Research Infrastructures. The MERIL project was subsequently launched in October 2010 (supported by Framework Programme 7 - Contract # 262159).

The analysis of the earlier RI Portal, based on a 2006/07 Survey of European Research Infrastructures jointly carried out by the European Commission and the European Science Foundation, showed that improvement was needed in terms of geographical and disciplinary coverage and completeness, information on the type of infrastructure (i.e. single-sited, distributed or virtual) and increased functionality for searching and handling of data, among other things. The business model for a sustainable maintenance of the portal and update of the RI data needed revision.

The MERIL project was thus designed to implement these improvements and to deepen and extend the analysis of the landscape of Research Infrastructures. The overarching goal of the project was to establish a single source of information about all the principal research infrastructures throughout Europe that would:
- Help the scientific community identify and gain access to a wide range of resources, services and facilities;
- Allow policy-makers to assess the state of research infrastructures throughout Europe to pinpoint gaps and possible duplications and make decisions about where best to direct funding;
- Encourage cross-border and cross-sector collaboration and more efficient use of resources within the European research community;
- Promote individual research infrastructures by raising their profile and fostering a greater sense of partnership across Europe;
- Contribute with this state-of-the-art analysis to the planning for future needs in cooperation with the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

The concrete objectives for the two-year project timeframe were:
- To establish an inclusive governance structure for the MERIL project

In order to be sustainable, the MERIL project needed the broad commitment of the main stakeholders in Research Infrastructure in Europe. The MERIL project therefore targeted many stakeholders, including the 'scientific community' (through the ESF Scientific Committees and Expert Boards which are represented in the MERIL Science Advisory Board) as well as policy makers and funding agencies (ESFRI, ERF, EIROforum, the European Commission, Ministries and the ESF MO Forum on Research Infrastructures). A representative of each of the stakeholders was nominated as a member of the MERIL Steering Committee. Additional parties were invited as observers to the various meetings of the MERIL project, for instance universities (EUA/LERU), OECD-GSF (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Global Science Forum) and international partners (e.g. the NSF);- To produce agreement among the main MERIL stakeholders, i.e. policy makers and scientists, on the definition of a European Research Infrastructure and criteria for inclusion in the database

Based on the existing concepts of research infrastructures (from ESF-EuroHORCs, ERIC and ESFRI), the stakeholders were tasked with finding a common understanding of the term research infrastructure that would hold for all scientific areas and with deriving a common set of criteria to be potentially used for the evaluation of European research infrastructures in the future, in collaboration with ESFRI (see chapter 1.3 of the Final Report). In defining what is meant by a research infrastructure, MERIL relied on the relevant discussions within the MO Forum. A document (D9.1) describing the Common Features of RIs has been issued and endorsement of the document has been achieved from a wider group of stakeholders as represented in the ESF Member Organisation Forum on Research Infrastructures;- To find agreement on the final list of Scientific Domains and RI Categories for classification of the Research Infrastructures in the database

In order to achieve a broad coverage of the scientific disciplines, the stakeholders had to reach consensus about which domains were to be covered and which categories were relevant in terms of research infrastructures (see 1.3). A consultation of the scientific community through the ESF Science Units and Standing Committees resulted in a list of 8 scientific domains and 71 RI categories distributed among these domains;- To compile a list of user needs identified by the scientific community and policy makers and an adequate description of the data that should be collected

To accommodate the expectations of the main users of the MERIL portal, an inventory had to be made of the most prominent needs. Once these needs had been identified, they were to be translated into a data model that described each research infrastructure. A minimal set of meta-data was to be agreed on and defined in the 'MERIL data dictionary';- To compile a list of Identification Sources of Research Infrastructures and a modus operandi to select the eligible RIs

In order to obtain information about which RIs would be eligible to be included in MERIL there was a need for identification of sources both from the science level as from the policy level. Contacts with the national ministries and funding agencies had to be established to identify the main contact persons for providing national lists of research infrastructures. A process for obtaining the list of representative research infrastructures of European relevance had to be established and guidance developed to assure the quality of the identified RIs across the different sources. A list of 'National Data Intermediaries' was therefore established, who verify the 'more-than-national' relevance of all proposed Research Infrastructures and carry out a national gap analysis to assure that all relevant RIs per country are in the MERIL database. This demonstrates the joint commitment of the main European stakeholders in RI affairs. This process and guidance is reflected in the MERIL procedures;- To compile a contact list of providers of data on the Research Infrastructures

Once the RIs had been identified, the actual meta-data had to be collected from data providers (RI operators) and transferred to the MERIL database. A list of contact-persons for every endorsed individual RI had to be established and user accounts created to enable them to upload and update meta-data about their RI.

A procedure was put in place for the efficient collection and continuous updating of information on the relevant RIs by the RI operators. The engagement of RI operators is a key element in building a sustainable web-portal. Creating added value and ownership for this part of the user community is a major objective for MERIL;- To re-design and re-construct the MERIL database and portal

The development of MERIL's Information Model and use-cases based on user needs and the development of the plan for the software acquisition and the plan for the software exploitation were essential elements to design and build the database and portal. Critical analysis of the EC ESF-EUROHORCs RI Portal and the IBiSA (French Platform for Biology, Health, and Agricultural sciences related Research Infrastructures) database was undertaken, producing insights which have been applied to the development of the MERIL database and portal. The online MERIL portal provides the interface to the database; both as front-office open to the public and as back-office open to registered users. The collected meta-data on Research Infrastructures has been analysed as of December 2012 and the Data-Set Analysis Report has been delivered.

The completed database and its analytical functionalities will be a unique tool for scientists, policy makers and research funders, as well as other stakeholders. In the long term, the expected impacts include increased exploitation of the services and collaborative possibilities offered by existing RIs as well as joint foresight with gap and needs analysis. The mapping will also ensure compatibility between the needs for future European RIs expressed in ESFRI roadmaps and the development of existing RIs.

The usage of the portal can naturally be investigated only after some time of operation. However, the new approach of MERIL in instituting a relevance check by national authorities before releasing data should provide a higher level of coherence of the data as compared to the previous RI portal. In most European countries a discussion about what should be listed in MERIL has started. There is already some evidence to suggest that countries which are preparing national surveys and road maps for RIs have benefitted from the Common Features, Scientific Domains and RI Categories that were developed in the MERIL project.

The MERIL portal is intended to be an interactive online tool for sharing knowledge about European research infrastructures that are of 'more-than-national relevance'. Collecting initial data and keeping it up to date is a continuous process that requires effort and support over a number of years. As such it can be considered an e-infrastructure with according operational and maintenance costs. While EC funding was limited to the construction phase of MERIL ending in 2012, for 2013 the member organisations of the European Science Foundation have committed funds to maintain the database and portal. This period will be used to explore opportunities and to find further support. Part of this exploration will consist of looking for potential new user groups and needs, in order to develop new services. The operational phase will, of course, monitor access to and usage of the portal.

Due to its design as a dynamic and flexible portal, MERIL offers opportunities for further development and analysis. A dedicated team at the ESF will work in 2013 to complete and harmonise the meta-data on the indexed RIs, extend the mapping of eligible RIs and develop – in consultation with various stakeholder groups – new functionalities in the portal to allow for even more sophisticated analysis of the data on RIs in Europe. It will be imperative to raise consciousness of the availability of the portal to engage user groups and fully exploit the potential of the database as a tool and resource for science and policy making.

Project results

NOTE: Tables and Figures to illustrate the content of the Final Report could not be transferred to this section of the ECAS reporting tool. Please consult the uploaded PDF of the Publishable Summary/Final Report.

The tangible outputs of the EC-funded phase of the MERIL project include: a definition of research infrastructures and eligibility criteria for the MERIL portal; a definition of scientific domains and RI categories for the MERIL portal; a CERIF-compliant (Common European Research Information Format) data model meeting the needs of stakeholders; a database and user-friendly interface for the public and registered users.

Definitions of research infrastructures and eligibility criteria

During the project, the MERIL stakeholders jointly established the following definition of research infrastructures and eligibility criteria for inclusion:

"A European Research Infrastructure is a facility or (virtual) platform that provides the scientific community with resources and services to conduct top-level research in their respective fields. These research infrastructures can be single-sited or distributed or an e-infrastructure, and can be part of a national or international network of facilities, or of interconnected scientific instrument networks.

Furthermore, an eligible research infrastructure should:
- Offer top quality scientific and technological performance and be recognised as being of 'more-than-national' relevance;
- Offer access to scientific users from Europe and beyond through a transparent selection process on the basis of excellence;
- Have stable and effective management.

Capacity to generate impact, including through education and training, is desirable, but not mandatory at present."

In order to be considered to be of 'more-than-national relevance', three requirements need to be met: Quality, Access and Management.

1. Quality

It is assumed that any RI funded by a national government or agency meets acceptable quality standards. The quality assessment of databases and collections requires a specific approach. For a database to be of more-than-national relevance it must be operating in a manner that enables its data or samples to be compared with those in other centres. This means that data should be easily and continuously retrievable, there should be appropriate meta-data to enable the data to be analysed, compared and re-used, and that the RI is working to harmonised standards with other equivalent centres.

Strong indicators that an RI is of greater than national relevance are:
- Evidence of the attractiveness of the RI to users from abroad, either from data showing actual use by non-nationals, or user interest where the RI is not yet operating. RIs that restrict access only to national users are excluded;
- The existence of formal agreements with non-national partners

2. Access

To qualify for the MERIL database, an RI must have clear and public rules and procedures for access to facility time or resource. Where there are limited resources, access must be based on an assessment of the soundness of the proposed use. Significant time must be available for outside users, national or international; in the case of an RI operating in extended experiment or campaign mode, there must be openness to new partners joining experiments. As mentioned above, RIs that restrict access to national users are excluded.

3.Management

Minimum standards of management are necessary to ensure that an RI is able to fulfil its potential to support external, extra-national users:
- A single entry point for the RI must be clearly identifiable;
- There must be clear support arrangements for science users;
- There must be clear procedures for the management of data.

The RI must have funding approved for a period sufficient to deliver the type of access typical for that class of facility. In the case of RIs in development, initial funding for construction and a clear timetable for the opening of research services must be in place.

Definitions of scientific domains and RI categories

The 8 Scientific Domains and 71 RI Categories, which are described below, are used to classify the RIs in the MERIL database and were established in consultation with the ESF Science Units and the experts that were recruited through the European Science Foundation's Standing Committees, Expert Boards and Committees.

Adopting a dynamic and adaptable attitude, the MERIL stakeholders tried to create a list that would serve as a European standard for classification of research infrastructures in various databases.

Data-model for the MERIL database

At the heart of the constructed MERIL database lies a data-model that translates the requirements of the stakeholders into the technical specifications of the database. The data model for the MERIL Portal is described through the below diagram (Fig 1). The table in Annex 1 includes details on all the attributes and relations, whereas the Entity-Relationship-Diagram (ERD) (see below) serves to make it easier to understand the structure of the relations. In the ERD, entities are indicated by circles and have been named with a four-letter abbreviation. The relation name always makes use of these four-letter abbreviations, e.g. INFR_has_PICT describes the relation between RI and Picture.

Figure 1 The Entity-Relationship-Diagram (ERD) illustrating all entities and their relations in the MERIL data model

Mapping to the Common European Research Information Format (CERIF)

The significance of research infrastructures (RIs) for the advancement of research is widely recognised. Large sums are allocated to the construction and operation of RIs across all disciplines in Europe (e.g. through the ESFRI initiative) and worldwide. In this context, the availability of RI inventories with high quality and timely information (RI meta-data) is becoming important, enabling use cases such as search by researchers for RIs of interest to them, assistance to assessment/evaluation, policy making and strategic planning.

Standardisation of the data structures used to represent RI information is critical to enable interoperability of different RI databases and inventories that leads to better data quality and avoids duplication of work with regard to data collection. The CERIF standard, maintained by euroCRIS (the European organisation for international research information) (http://www.eurocris.org/) is a prime candidate for this task, since it includes already the basic entities required to capture and manage RI information and inherently possesses advanced characteristics that enable representation of RI meta-data according to a structured schema with clear semantics that greatly facilitates interoperability. The choice of the CONVERIS information management system as the core for MERIL was triggered, amongst others, by its compliance with the CERIF standard.

A specific euroCRIS CERIF Task Group on Research Infrastructures has been established with personal input from the MERIL team. The requirements concerning the MERIL data model have been directly taken up by this CERIF Task Group. RI meta-data representation in CERIF was centred on three existing 2nd-level CERIF entities: Facility, Equipment and Service. CERIF link entities were utilised to capture relationships among these entities as well as with organisations, people, projects, funding, publications, patents and products. The white boxes indicate the specific MERIL Research Infrastructure entities that now have been mapped to CERIF. A research infrastructure will in general be modelled as a Facility, possibly linked to Equipment.

Through this mapping the RI meta-data stored in MERIL can potentially be exchanged in CERIF-XML format with basically any other database that is compliant with CERIF.

Fig. 2 CERIF Model of entities and attributes with the extension for the MERIL specific entities in the white boxes.

Navigation through the web-portal

A user-friendly and intuitive navigation through the different web pages is essential for a web-portal. The MERIL database was therefore designed on the basis of an inventory of user needs and requirements. The access to the portal is split into two levels: 1. The Front- office; which is the public web-portal and 2. The Back-office; which is accessible for registered users through the "login" button on the homepage of the portal.

1. Front-office; the public webpage offers a series of features that are publicly accessible. The screenshots below show the resulting basic features that are available on the web-portal.

Fig. 3 MERIL Homepage

Fig. 4 MERIL List page

Fig. 5 MERIL Detailed page

Fig. 6 MERIL List page with option for two basic reports in PDF

Fig. 7 First basic list report available on the public website (more extended reporting is featured through the Back-office)

Fig. 8 Second report on statistics

Fig. 9 Geo-mapping through small individual map

Fig. 10 Geo-mapping through large map with different coloured pins per scientific domain

2. The Back-office; this is the access for a variety of registered users. Depending on the user-type (Superior Administrator, Administrator, RI Coordinator) this access provides the opportunity to individual RI operators to enter new RI meta-data or update obsolete information.

There is already the possibility to export the selected data in PDF format from the Front-office and from the Back-office in .xls format. On demand the MERIL portal management can export specific subsets of meta-data to .xls files.

It is envisaged to develop features that allow .xml/.csv exports from the Back-office to a certain group of authorised users. An additional user role would enable, for example, National Data Intermediaries to extract their own desired set of meta-data directly from the Back-office to carry out their own specific analysis.

A dedicated Back-office user guideline has been developed to instruct the RI Coordinator on how to upload and update the information about his specific RI.

The following screenshots describe the available Back-office windows.

Figure 11 MERIL Homepage with registered user login to gain access to the Back-office

Fig. 12 Login screen requiring logins from the MERIL portal Superior Administrator

Figure 13 Back-Office features

The Back-Office offers the possibilities to manage the user roles for the different actors:
- Superior Administrator;
- Administrator;
- RI Coordinator

Figure 14 Front-page of the RI Coordinator Back Office User guide, which is available on-line.

Potential impact

MERIL is a unique resource for the scientific community, policy makers and other communities such as research performing and research funding organisations and industry. As the Member States of the European Union continue to develop a more co-ordinated and strategic approach to scientific research, it is important to have a clear picture of the research infrastructure landscape.

As a single source of information about all the principal research infrastructures throughout Europe MERIL has potential impact at the following levels.

As science itself rapidly evolves in various multidisciplinary directions, it requires an up-to-date reference guide to potentially relevant and available sources of knowledge and expertise. The scientific community feels the need to identify and gain access to a wider range of resources, services and facilities. Since the Research Infrastructures that are collected in MERIL host a wealth of information and human capital, the portal is an important source of information for getting in touch with colleagues within Europe who possess complementary knowledge and who can share alternative solutions, approaches and experience. Disclosing and exchanging information is not only essential for scientific data, but also for meta-data about research infrastructures.

While itself an e-infrastructure, MERIL collects meta-data about the different e-infrastructures available in Europe. This field of e-infrastructures in itself is an interesting example of an evolving cross-cutting domain of Research Infrastructures. The vision of the High-Level Expert Group on Scientific Data is of a scientific e-infrastructure that supports seamless access, use, re-use, and trust in data. In a sense, the physical and technical infrastructure becomes invisible and the data themselves become the infrastructure – a valuable asset, on which science, technology, the economy and society can advance. Their vision is that, by 2030:
- All stakeholders, from scientists to national authorities to the general public, are aware of the critical importance of conserving and sharing reliable data produced during the scientific process;
- Researchers and practitioners from any discipline are able to find, access and process the data they need. They can be confident in their ability to use and understand data, and they can evaluate the degree to which that data can be trusted;
- Producers of data benefit from opening it to broad access, and prefer to deposit their data with confidence in reliable repositories;
- A framework of repositories work to international standards, to ensure they are trustworthy. Public funding rises, because funding bodies have confidence that their investments in research are paying back extra dividends to society, through increased use and re-use of publicly generated data;
- The innovative power of industry and enterprise is harnessed by clear and efficient arrangements for exchange of data between private and public sectors, allowing appropriate returns to both;
- The public has access to and can make creative use of the huge amount of data available; it can also contribute to the data store and enrich it. All can be adequately educated and prepared to benefit from this abundance of information;
- Policy makers are able to make decisions based on solid evidence, and can monitor the impacts of these decisions. Government becomes more trustworthy;
- Global governance promotes international trust and interoperability

One of the recommendations of the High-Level Group is to develop an international framework for a Collaborative Data Infrastructure (CDI). Mapping the European landscape is a first important step towards creating this CDI.

The MERIL inventory will allow policy makers to assess the state of research infrastructures throughout Europe, to pinpoint gaps and possible duplications and make decisions about where best to direct funding, including joint investment, where appropriate.

The ESF Member Organisation Forum on Research Infrastructures (MOFRI), which involved the main European funding organisations, defined in its current mandate and indicated that its needs which will be adopted by the newly developed Working Group of Science Europe. An important part of the Working Group's focus will be on the following issues:
- Networking between RIs, beyond that funded by the EU;
- Coordination of funding and assessment between national agencies;
- Management of RIs;
- Exchange of staff;
- Transfer of best practice;
- Community-specific actions, e.g. for the social sciences and humanities;
- Promoting the importance of RI for the competitiveness of Europe

The MERIL portal contains relevant information that could help in addressing these issues directly or in contacting the people who will be able to provide the right information. The combination of a policy working group with a mandate at the European level and the MERIL inventory will be key to the success of creating a European Research Area for Research Infrastructures.

Encourage cross-border and cross-sector collaboration and more efficient use of resources within the European research community.

Regional partnerships between RIs, academic institutions and local industry are potential engines to boost regional development and clustering of resources. The availability of Structural Funds offers a growing opportunity to pool local and European investments and centralise training facilities. The tendency to create European regions as Innovation Clusters will continue. Actors in those regions will benefit from knowledge about the availability of facilities and services in their region and possibly from competing regions.

MERIL will promote individual research infrastructures by raising their profile and fostering a greater sense of partnership across Europe. Partnerships may be extended to non-academic stakeholders, like industry, with an interest in world-class research hubs with advanced equipment and services.

The ESFRI Strategy Working Group on Innovation started in December 2012 and will report on potential improvements in the pan-European accessibility and management of existing RIs and give appropriate expert feedback on the innovation and industrial aspects. Industry as an important stakeholder has a potential interest in knowing where to find the most advanced facilities and the expertise to boost their innovative power. MERIL offers up to date information with direct contacts to the expertise and services.

MERIL contributes with the state-of-the-art analysis of the RI landscape to the planning for future needs in cooperation with the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

ESFRI's mission is to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy making on research infrastructures (RIs). It should therefore facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to a better use and development of research infrastructures. As part of its additional mandate given by the European Council (2004, 2007), it was asked to establish a European Roadmap for RIs (new and major upgrades, pan-European interest) for the coming 10-20 years, stimulate the implementation of these facilities and update the Roadmap as the need arises.

To implement this mission ESFRI created Strategy Working Groups (SWGs). The main role and activities of the SWGs are to:
- Monitor the scientific developments and emerging research and innovation challenges and address the issue of socio-economic impact and propose possible (RI-related) solutions able to help tackle the Grand Challenges;
- Propose a joint vision, and a strategic research agenda and a gap analysis

ESFRI advises on various issues:
- How coordinated actions could be developed/overseen: (i) for catalysing the development and implementation of the RM projects and stimulating all the stakeholders and (ii) for monitoring the specific landscape to which the new / upgraded RIs belong;
- Potential improvements in the pan-European availability and management of existing RIs, including e-Infrastructure aspects;
- Whether projects should remain on future editions of the Roadmap, and, following a decision by ESFRI, evaluate possible proposals according to the agreed procedure for the update of the Roadmap;
- How cooperation with Joint Programming Initiatives and with industry (or relevant European industrial organizations) could be strengthened;
In view of these ambitions MERIL provides important information to ESFRI to:
- Develop interdisciplinary, transversal and systemic approaches: such as optimal coordination of new and existing RIs (ESFRI/non-ESFRI);
- Stimulate the pooling of resources in the ERA, their evaluation and prioritisation based on mutual trust and transparency. Strengthen the analysis of the scientific needs vs the responses from the existing RIs;
- Develop in a more systematic way analysis of the scientific landscapes at European and international levels. Getting reliable and up to date overview on existing Ris

It was also essential during the course of the project to promote the initiative to stakeholders. A MERIL brochure about the rationale, objectives, stakeholders and envisaged impact and use was produced for dissemination purposes. Feature stories have been published in PanEuropeanNetworks and CRIS2012 Proceedings; another one is about to be published in International Innovation. Promotion of MERIL has also taken place at important European Research Infrastructure events such as Euro-Bio-Imaging Stakeholder meeting, ICRI 2012, CRIS2012 Conference, MELODI2012 stakeholder meeting, ESOF2012, EuroRIsNet+ meeting.

A Final joint MERIL/MOFRI workshop was organised in November 2012 to showcase the main achievements of MERIL and to seek for additional commitment of the European RI stakeholders for harmonisation of the requirements of Research Infrastructures with 'more-than-national' relevance.

An important output of the MERIL project was a science policy paper, which finally took the form of a substantial report produced in collaboration with the ESF Member Organisation Forum on Research Infrastructures ('MO Forum Report: Research Infrastructures in the European Research Area'). The report will be published in March 2013 and widely disseminated.

Project website:
http://www.meril.eu
Web-portal:
http://portal.meril.eu

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