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Realising and Managing International Research Infrastructures 2

Final Report Summary - RAMIRI 2 (Realising and Managing International Research Infrastructures 2)

Executive Summary:

RAMIRI2 is based on the solid grounds of the successful RAMIRI project.

While keeping similar target audience and general objectives, it concentrated in refining the original concept and improving certain elements.

Its main aim was to provide qualified hands-on training on planning and managing Research Infrastructures in the general framework of the European Research Area, with special attention to new Member States and ESFRI context.

As such, RAMIRI2 contributed to the “Fifth freedom”, i.e. the free movement of Europe’s knowledge capital across national borders.

Two cycles of 2 workshops, each one containing 3 of 6 learning modules and based in Amsterdam, Prague and Trieste, were organized. The modules follow the 6 core topics listed in the RAMIRI handbook:

1. Making the business and political cases
2. Legal and governance issues
3. Finance
4. Project planning and construction
5. Attracting, remunerating and retaining staff
6. Managing an established facility

The workshops provided a high quality knowhow to the trainees, based on decades of European best practices and on the positive feedback received during RAMIRI. As a natural by-product, they favoured creation of a strong network of RIs facility managers and government functionaries, which will certainly last beyond the time limits of the project.

In addition, a revised version of the RAMIRI handbook was produced, including reference texts and case-studies deriving from the workshops’ lectures. Its online web-based version, specifically realized to maximize dissemination, is available at:

To promote and advertise the RAMIRI2 results and findings the consortium envisioned a series of dissemination activities targeted to all RAMIRI stakeholders in general, authorities and potential delegates in particular. To present them, including the revised Handbook release, a project final workshop was organized in Brussels on April 2-3, 2012.

Project Context and Objectives:

Research Infrastructures (RIs) of pan-European and International relevance represent the very heart of the European Research Area (ERA). The ERA realization faces a number of challenges such as fragmentation, sub-criticality, duplication of R&D efforts and the lack of coordination at regional, national and international level. Its full realization runs parallel to implementing the so-called “fifth freedom”, i.e. the free circulation of knowledge among the Member States.

The ERAB report “Preparing Europe for a New Renaissance” and the ESFRI 2020 Vision both enlighten the need to link scientific results and societal needs and develop technology to solve the “grand-challenges”.

The scale and complexity of research infrastructures (especially those within the physical sciences) inevitably require multi-national cooperation and investment across the EU and beyond. The European Union, comprised as it is of 27 nation-states and several Associate States, can find itself at a relative disadvantage when it comes to advancing such collaborations. Different languages, legal frameworks and varying national priorities can make the development of new RIs an unnecessarily lengthy and convoluted process, and the time taken to bring new RI-projects to fruition, or to upgrade existing national facilities to a Pan-EU level, can stand in the way of Europe’s research ambitions.

Initiatives such as the creation of the ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) as a new legal instrument available to new RIs offer practical solutions to these kinds of challenges.

Pan-EU and International RIs represent the crucial factor to solve the above issues. In fact, they offer a key environment for each of the three axes of the so-called “knowledge triangle” of research, education and innovation.

Grenoble, in France and Trieste in Italy provide good examples of a region made economically stronger by a core of world-leading research activity (at ESRF and ILL, as well as at Elettra, ICGEB and ICTP). Similar examples are found in Hamburg, Oxford and elsewhere.

The European Union welcomed 12 new Member States in recent years, and this represents both opportunities and challenges for scientific and technologic progress. New communities of researchers need excellent educational and research institutions.

The last years have seen a number of initiatives designed to stimulate discussion and advance policymaking in the area of RIs. The creation of ESFRI (the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures), the development of ECRI (the European Conference on Research Infrastructures) and the adoption of the European Research Area (ERA) are key elements of the background from which the RAMIRI project has emerged.

The original RAMIRI (Realising and Managing International Research Infrastructures) proposal derived from the joint involvement of Prof. John Wood and Prof. Carlo Rizzuto, former Chairs of ESFRI.

RAMIRI aimed to share the knowhow of experts from established RIs with an audience of new of future managers and policy-makers working across Europe, with a particular emphasis on those working within the new member states. It organized a series of symposia dealing with a number of different topics related to establishing and managing international RIs.

RAMIRI 2 aims to build on the success of the original RAMIRI project. As such, its objectives and target audience remain very similar to those of RAMIRI 1. However, this next phase will aim to refine the original concept and improve on certain elements of the original project.

RAMIRI2 proposes to provide a learning and networking environment for two main target audiences

1. “New” RI facility managers, namely

I. RI-managers (or policymakers) working within the ‘new’ European member states (EU-12)
II. RI-managers (or policymakers) working on ‘new’ RI-projects (for example, and primarily, ESFRI preparatory phase projects)
III. People from a research background who are ‘new’ to a management role within an RI
IV. People from another professional/managerial background (such as law, project management or accountancy) who are ‘new’ to working in an RI environment

2. People engaged in the establishments and development of RIs bt working within national ministries or funding agencies, i.e. government functionaries, civil servants

At present, there are no formal training programmes or sources of continuing professional development specialised to RI-managers. General management courses (such as the MBA) or specific law, accountancy or project management courses may, of course, be useful for the RI-manager, and events such as the ECRI conference provide useful opportunities for discussion and networking.

The RAMIRI Consortium believes that new RI-managers can benefit from small, interactive workshops that cover a number of issues common to all or most RIs. Without question, there is no overall lack of expertise and reflection on many of these issues within Europe. However, this expertise and experience is currently unevenly distributed across the EU, as many of Europe’s most mature RIs have been based in the original EU member states. Moreover, the expansion of both the EU and the RI sector (eg. through the recent development of distributed infrastructures) means that it is vital that the good practices and lessons learned from existing RIs are widely disseminated to a new generation of RI managers.

RAMIRI2 will deliver 2 cycles of a two-part learning programme: each participant will attend two workshops, held on two different locations. Each workshop will deliver 3 of 6 learning modules. These modules broadly follow the training areas outlined above, and align with the 6 core topics covered in the RAMIRI Handbook, namely:

1. Making the case
2. Legal and Governance
3. Financing
4. Project management from preparatory phase to construction and operation
5. The Human Factor
6. Managing an Established facility (Strategic Planning)

Additionally, there will be a mid-term meeting which brings together the RAMIRI Project Working Group, Consortium Management Board and Programme Advisory Committee held at Adam Mickiewicz University, in Poznan, Poland. This meeting will coincide with the period of the Polish presidency of the EU and the ESFRI meeting and will therefore be held during the second half of 2011. There will be an opportunity to invite ESFRI national delegates to present work to date in Poznań. This meeting will provide an opportunity to engage ESFRI with the work of the RAMIRI 2 project. The RAMIRI 2 project team will present work to date on the RAMIRI Handbook and provide a report on the RAMIRI 2 project at the half-way point.

The workshops will also allow time for a site visit/case study in each location, covering a number of projects within both the physical sciences and social sciences, and with visits to both physical and ICT-based research facilities. A social programme for participants will complement the above and encourage networking between participants and speakers. The programme groups will be encouraged to remain in touch with their cohorts at the close of the programme.

The lessons, experiences and feedback of these three programmes will be incorporated into a revised and expanded edition of the original RAMIRI Handbook, which will be published towards the end of the project.

At the end of month 24, the final draft of the Handbook will be distribute to the RAMIRI2 participants, to the management of the Research Infrastructures of pan-European interest. The first public release of the Handbook, including comment/suggestions will be presented and illustrated during a specific workshop to be held by the end of month 30.

Project Results:

RAMIRI 2 gave continuity to the RAMIRI success story allowing the training program to be extended for 2 additional years. As such, it is well known among European Project and is a benchmark for present and would-be RIs managers.

Furthermore, its revised Handbook is being widely used as a reference source of information.

The Learning Programme was articulated into 4 workshops of 3 days, each one covering 3 out of 6 main topics:

1. 2011
a. Amsterdam 14-16/06/2011
b. Trieste 24-26/10/2011
2. 2012
a. Prague 12-14/03/2012
b. Trieste 18-20/06/2012

The Learning Programme involved more than 20 experienced lecturers, including RIs managers and employees, and included RIs case studies as well as on-sight visits.

Out of more than 130 applicants, 90 (45/year) were selected and 37 received financial support. This is significantly better than what foreseen in the project proposal, i.e. 60-70 participants involved.

Each participant attended both workshops within the same year, thus being able to follow all the 6 training modules:

1. Making the case
2. Legal and Governance
3. Financing
4. Project management from preparatory phase to construction and operation
5. The Human Factor
6. Managing an Established facility (Strategic Planning)

An Alumni network was established and a representative was elected for each year’s course. On this basis, RAMIRI2 can look to the exploitation of its foreground in an optimistic mood.

In addition to the training courses, which represented the core RAMIRI 2 activities, the project was presented at the 2012 ICRI conference in Copenhagen and in its Final Conference in Brussels (April 2013), which was attended by more than 60 people.

In this context, the RAMIRI handbook was presented in its revised version, i.e. a web-based text with background information, interactive links and contacts (

RAMIRI2 is solid example of what is needed to fully realize the ERA, and the Consortium members are willing to search for future initiatives (in the would-be RIs work-programme) under HORIZON 2020.

Potential Impact:

The learning programmes delivered a robust strategic foundation in the themes and challenges of RI-management. Whilst the learning programme cannot possibly cover all of the possible issues, or indeed cover these comprehensively, it provided an excellent introduction to the main areas of work involved in establishing and managing an RI. Related to this, the detailed discussion of a number of case studies, as well as the practical exposure to current facilities (through site visits) substantially increased and refined participants’ overall awareness of the European RI-landscape, and possibly alerted them to RI-models outside of their scientific or geographical area. The programme material and handbook summarised some elements of ‘best practice’ or common challenges that are relevant across a number of cases.

A further impact is represented by the enduring network of contacts (Alumni) developed and facilitated by the networking opportunities offered by the workshops and project website. This will enhance European and international cooperation in the management of RIs by fostering the building of relationships and sharing of experience among the target audience. The shared experience of having attended any of the RAMIRI programmes (between 2009 and 2012), combined with the distinctive RAMIRI ‘brand’ (consolidated by the issue of attendance certificates in this second phase) will provide a touchstone for shared conversations and professional development in the area of RI-management that will long outlive the project itself.

The selection of courses participants can also be considered having had a structuring impact on the ERA landscape. In fact, the Applications Committee considered, besides applicant’s CV and Commitment, their overall and RI-management specific experience, and gave preference to applicants who fit within one or more of the target audiences described above. Suitable candidates who were relatively new to the area of RI-management, who were working within a new/preparatory phase project or who were based within an EU-12 state were given preference over candidates with more experience or candidates who are based in an EU-15 state.

The participation of a number of leading experts in the field of research management ensured that the content of the learning programme and the handbook are relevant and realistic. The Consortium, with its diverse research expertise and wide geographical reach has been an important factor in ensuring that the programme and its outcomes are disseminated to a broad section of the European target audience. The support of the European Commission over the course of two project cycles led authority to both the programme and the handbook.

Finally, the RAMIRI handbook includes a number of key themes in RI-management through case studies and expert analysis. The handbook is designed not as an academic exercise but as a lively, relevant and practical guide combining expert analysis and case studies.

All RAMIRI 2 activities can be considered dissemination activities.

As such, their exploitation is still on-going and will ideally last for the whole careers of the Learning Programme participants, as well as for those of all visitors of the web-based Handbook.

List of Websites:

Digital Handbook:
Coordinator: Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A.
Prof. Carlo Rizzuto