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ERIC Forum Implementation project

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERIC Forum (ERIC Forum Implementation project)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

ERIC – European Research Infrastructure Consortium – is a European legal instrument specifically created in 2009 to facilitate the creation of Research Infrastructures (RI) owned by several countries, and established either on a single site or scattered across multiple countries (multi-sited). Since then 21 ERICs have been created in various scientific domains.

The European Commission (EC) had initiated an informal networking event, twice a year, where Managers of existing ERICs and scientists of future Research Infrastructures (RIs) who want to use the ERIC instrument can discuss shared challenges and meet also national policy makers establishing a platform for exchange of solutions and best practises. With the H2020 call “INFRASUPP-01-2018-2019 Policy and international cooperation measures for research infrastructures” the EC sought to fund a project for more formal and structural collaboration and coordination of ERICs. This project is set up by all existing ERICs and those consortia, which have at least submitted their Stage-1 application to implement the objectives of the call.

This project addresses critical challenges, develops best practices and frames the necessary knowledge to support ERICs-to-be. Moreover, the project contributes in building the brand identity of ERICs as an important body and stakeholder in consultation of related policy action.

The objectives in brief are:

Strengthen coordination and networking among ERICs;

Provide guidance to ERICs on shared challenges;

Support ERICs in preparation;

Support common communication and outreach activities and strengthen external representation of ERICs.

The work plan is based on 7 Work Packages: WP1 Coordination and Project Management, WP2 ERIC Forum governance model, WP3 Operations, Administration, HR and Finance of ERICs, WP4 Evaluation and Impact Assessment, WP5 Communication and dissemination, WP6 Role of ERICs in European science policy and research strategy, WP7 Ethics requirements

The ERIC Forum is coordinated by Francesco Florindi of BBMRI-ERIC. The Project Management Team consists of 12 members representing all work package leaders.
During the first 18 months, the partners submitted 11 out of 17 due deliverables and achieved 10 out of 12 due milestones. Some delays were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and others due to a change in the project landscape.

During the 1st reporting period, the project set up its main structures, re-organised and reinvigorated the ERIC community by strengthening the ERIC Forum, defined a clear and effective working method with the Forum itself, and started to tap into the ERICs’ collective knowledge and experience to produce key deliverables that will guide the ERICs in their development in the years to come, therefore performing on all objectives.

The project also created the network and preconditions for an increased visibility and better positioning of the Forum towards its European stakeholders.

WP1: All project management bodies were set up (D1.1) and the data management plan (D1.5) was delivered.

WP2: A governance structure was drafted and approved (D2.1)

WP3 developed its network of experts and surveyed all ERICs to collect information on key issues.

WP4 established a close dialogue with ESFRI and participated in relevant ESFRI meetings to voice the ERIC Forum views on topics related to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and impact assessment of ERICs, and collaborated with other EU-funded projects to share knowledge in these areas.

WP5 delivered on its objectives by creating new visual identity elements such as the logo, website and overall communication strategy and plan within the project deadlines (D5.1 D5.2 D5.3 D5.4). Furthermore, it supports in increasing the ERIC Forum's visibility to key stakeholders and strengthening its brand identity.

WP6 formed a dedicated task force to identify common topics of interest, draft the policy briefs and the technical innovation reports, and organize yearly seminars with relevant stakeholders (D6.1). WP6 also drafted the first collaborative policy brief (6.4) as well as the first Technical and Innovation Report (D6.10). It supported the organization of the Annual Meeting (D6.13).

WP7 delivered a template informed consent form and a clear policy on data collection, storage, protection, retention and destruction, which integrates the data management plan (D1.5) and serves as the backbone for the rightful collection and storage of data from project partners and stakeholders (D7.1 and D7.2).
During the 1st reporting period, the project set up its main structures, re-organised and reinvigorated the ERIC community by strengthening the ERIC Forum, defined a clear and effective working method with the Forum itself, and started to tap into the ERICs’ collective knowledge and experience to produce key deliverables that will guide the ERICs in their development in the years to come, therefore performing on all objectives. The project has already been instrumental in increasing the visibility of the Forum, building and maintaining its reputation as a reliable partner and important stakeholder. The project has impacted the narrative and relationship among all ERICs, strengthening the Forum, increasing its legitimacy by a transparent working method and ensuring the collaboration of as many partners as possible in the definition of the Forum’s priorities.

As a result, the project is not only the engine of the ERIC Forum, but it created a perfect symbiosis, the necessary preconditions for the Forum to become a trustworthy and reliable international partner, the strong voice of all ERICs at EU and global levels.

This allowed the ERIC Forum to have already a strong impact beyond the project deliverables. It produced position papers and presentations on behalf of the ERICs community, bringing the voice of ERICs to key stakeholders, such as the European Commission and the ERIC Committee. As a result, the ERIC Forum influence has grown, and will continue to grow, providing the ERICs with a crucial instrument to increase the societal impact of research infrastructures.