Editorial – The Roadmap 2016 of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)

By . Published on 26 April 2016 in:
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From the launch event on September 25th 2014 in Trieste (IT) to the presentation of the Roadmap 2016 on March 10th in Amsterdam (NL), ESFRI has carried out an important refinement of its method and has produced a new strategy document identifying new projects and consolidated landmarks as well as a thorough analysis of the European Landscape of Research Infrastructures accessible to European scientists and developers.

The ESFRI Roadmap 2016 contains two classes of infrastructures. First the ESFRI projects with a time window of 10 years for maturing the financial and organisational plans, such to prepare their successful implementation: they represent new opportunities for investing in the competitiveness of European research and innovation. Second the ESFRI landmarks identify the implemented infrastructures that already deliver science, or are at an advanced stage of construction representing in both cases building blocks of the ERA: these represent investments already in place and need constant support for ensuring their operation budget and continuous upgrade so to maximise the return on investment. Dedicated cards in Part 2 of the Roadmap (available on-line) individually describe the 21 Projects and 29 Landmarks.

The early part of the lifecycle of a new RI (or major upgrade) includes therefore the incubator period as an ESFRI project with access provided by the EC to special support measures under H2020, and, if successful, the transfer to the landmark status.

The new entries to the Roadmap 2016 were selected from 20 eligible proposals delivered by the ESFRI Delegations or EIROForum Councils through an on-line submission procedure, in March 2015.

ESFRI adopted a parallel evaluation process: the thematic Strategy Work Groups evaluated the science objectives and the e-infrastructure aspects, also using international peer-reviewers, and the Implementation Group evaluated the “maturity” of the proposal as of governance, management, financial plan and international consortium building, also interviewing international experts.

ACTRIS (aerosols and atmosphere) and DANUBIUS-RI (river-sea interface) in the environmental sciences, EMPHASIS (plant Phenomics) in Health&Food, EST (solar telescope) and KM3NeT (neutrino telescope) in Physics&Engineering became ESFRI Projects, adding to the 15 listed since the 2008 and 2010 Roadmaps. ESRF-Upgrade (extremely brilliant source) and HL-LHC (high luminosity large hadron collider) being already in the implementation stage with the decisive support by their EIROforum Councils were added to the ESFRI Landmark list.

The Landscape Analysis (summarized in Part 3 of the Roadmap) identifies the existing research infrastructures available as open-access facilities to the European and international scientists in all fields. These are international, national, regional or institutional undertakings that represent the overall ongoing effort for a competitive European research area.

ESFRI monitors and periodically assesses projects and landscapes, identifies opportunities for exploiting complementarities and globalisation, and for developing optimal interfaces among research infrastructures and with the scientific and innovation communities. The next update of the ESFRI Roadmap is planned for 2018 and the procedure will be launched in October 2016 at Cape Town (South Africa), during the ICRI conference.

Giorgio Rossi,
vice-chair ESFRI

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