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European Research Infrastructures in a time of crisis. by Costas Fotakis FORTH, Heraklion, Crete, Greece (e-mail: [email protected]). HORIZON 2020. Three priorities:. Excellent science. Industrial leadership. Societal challenges. C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected]).

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European Research Infrastructures in a time of crisis


Costas Fotakis

FORTH, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

(e-mail: [email protected])



Three priorities:

Excellent science

Industrial leadership

Societal challenges

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


Priority 1: Excellent Science

RIs is a key tool for capacity building for:

  • Europe to stay at the forefront of scientific and technological research in all fields.
  • forming poles of attraction for talented young researchers and prominent scientists (reversing the brain drain!).
  • providing high level of scientific and technical training
  • Europe to be a protagonist in tackling current global challenges (e.g. environmental and climatic issues, natural disasters etc.)
  • contributing to the competitiveness of European regions.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])



  • what are the options for RIs sustainability in the present economic environment?
  • the prime mission of RIs is serving scientific excellence. How can socio-economic benefits in different Member States be enhanced without compromising this mission?
  • How to enhance the regional and global impact of European RIs?
  • What should be the future initiatives of the Commission in supporting RIs towards the Innovation Union and “Horizon 2020”
  • What synergies should be established for the optimal use of European resources in developing and using RIs ?

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


European Research Infrastructures: A story over 20 years old

  • Although the need for RIs in Europe was recognized early, attempts to establish RIs by European countries in various fields failed, primarily due to lack of coherence and coordination.
  • The concept of “Transnational Access” to national RIs is established for the first time in FP2 with the “Large Installations Plan”.
  • With the advent of ERA, the need for world-class RIs in Europe becomes a key issue and the ESFRI is established for promoting a coherent and strategy led approach.
  • Nowadays RIs are at the center of the “Knowledge Triangle”.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


Evolution of RIs from FP2 to FP7

  • in FP7 the coverage of scientific domains is balanced.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


The current state

Two approaches:

  • FP6 and FP7 have supported Integrated Actions (I3) of networks of existing RIs covering all fields of science through a bottom up approach
  • To date, more than 300 Ris provide TA within 60 networks which are expected to reach 100 by 2020
  • Transnational Access is in the core of the RIs programe
  • The ESFRI Roadmap has been established on the basis of a top-down approach.
  • To date 48 RI are included in the ESFRI roadmap (including also e-RIs) and 20 more are expected by 2020.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


Impact of Transnational Access

Both quantitative and qualitative issues should be considered:

  • Relatively small number of researchers but high profile projects.
  • Differences in operational features: TA in the form of “Services” (e.g. Synchrotrons) or as “Collaborative Projects” (e.g. Lasers) serving the high end of the field.
  • There are RIs serving only a small number of users but in critical fields for European competitiveness (e.g. aerospace industry).
  • There are RIs, as the “e-Infrastructures”, serving broader scientific communities worldwide (e.g. GEANT).
  • RIs are environments which promote scientific excellence.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


Research Infrastructures and scientific excellence

In only one RI cluster:

15 Advanced and 10 Early Stage ERC Grants


RIs, Industry and Innovation

  • FP supported RIs link to the needs of Industry and Society, even if this link can not be as yet quantified.
  • • Industry as supplier, user and as an RI itself.
  • RIs also enable advanced knowledge creation and dissemination enhancing the probability of innovation.
  • Altogether the scientific culture prevailing in the RIs environments is conducive for serving industrial needs at high level and creating innovation as a result of forefront research.
  • • RIs may support both demand-driven innovation for current needs and scientificcuriosity-driven innovation for future applications.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


ESFRI roadmap

Identifies 44 new (or major upgrade of) Research Infrastructures of pan-European interest

The EC funds 3 additional projects from the CERN Council strategic roadmap for particle physics*


FP7 new concepts!

  • Targeted callsfor I3 proposals aiming to interface existing RIs to those pursued by ESFRI.
  • The “Risk Sharing Finance Facility” (RSFF)for joint funding through EC and EIB.
  • The “European Research Infrastructure Consortium” (ERIC)increasing flexibility by facilitating the cooperation of RIs as legal entities and creating several privileges (e.g. VAT exemption).
  • The “Regional Partner Infrastructures” for enhancing the impact of RIs and encountering socio-economic disparities.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


European Added Value through the RIs Programme

  • The Integrated (I3) Activities:
  • provide an effective frame for approaching the scientific frontiers in different fields and addressing scenarios for their long term development and their potential European role.
  • The ESFRI Roadmap:
  • attracted Member State’s attention to the importance of RIs and to the projects of the ESFRI roadmap
  • stimulated the development of national roadmaps and the setting-up of priorities in relation to the ESFRI roadmap
  • mobilised many countries to host an ESFRI project or participate in others

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


A real challenge : the sustainability of European RIs

  • A question of sustainability: 48 ESFRI projects, including e-RIs, are discussed in the context of a major economic crisis
    • requiring major financial investment (~20 b€)
    • long term commitment for operation (~2 b€/year)
    • Note: The total amount for RTD activities under Structural Funds is currently ~50b€, from which 9.8 b€, (i.e. 1.4 b€ per year) is allocated for “RTD infrastructures and centers of competence”
    • However: The impact in FP7 was rather limited!
  • Inherent complexity of the process of developing major projects in partnerships between several countries
    • many delays associated with international negotiations and discrepancies in national decision-making

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


A clear need for financial synergies





Costs (M€)




MS: Member States SF: Structural Funds

EC: European Commission FP: Framework Programme

EIB: European Investment Bank

PS: Private Sector


National RIs in Greece

  • Astroparticle Physics (NESTOR)
  • Astronomy (observatory with remote controlled telescope)
  • Marine Sciences (research vessels, submersibles, etc.)
  • Natural Disasters (Earthquakes)
  • Information Technology
  • Life Sciences, Biomedicine
  • Laser Technology
  • Social Sciences & Humanities
  • Other….
esfri participation of greece
ESFRI: Participation of Greece

in bold: supported by SF


RIs in Greece

  • Participation in the Preparatory Phase of 24 ESFRI projects
  • Funding of 13 national networks of RIs connected to ESFRI RIs: 31 M€
  • e-Infrastructures: budget 20 M€
  • 2 National Road Maps (2007, 2009)

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


From FP7 to Horizon 2020

  • An increased budget, from around €1.7 billion (FP7) to €2.5 billion (Horizon 2020 – 2011 constant prices)
  • New activities to support the implementation and operation of world-class infrastructures such as ESFRI infrastructures
  • Continuation of the successful FP7 Integrating Activities (I3)
  • Reinforcement of the support to e-infrastructures
  • New objective of better exploiting the innovation potential and human capital of infrastructures
  • Synergies with Structural Funds through the concept of “Smart Specialization”

Linking HORIZON 2020 to Regional policies through “smart specialization”

Smart Specialization

as a damp

Today: “Competitiveness” has replaced “Cohesion” which in cases may lead to undesirable side-effects


Some comments

  • “Smart specialization” relies on “prioritization” for a better use of resources. In a region with 30% unemployment what is the priority?
  • an exit strategy and a mechanism for adaptation should be forseen together with the commitment for “specialization”.
  • Need for openness: There is danger for the most innovative and groundbreaking research to be set aside!

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


Socio-economic impact of RIs

  • TA alone is not adequate in establishing coherence (or competitiveness) at regional level: The formation of regional RI hubs, which provide good science, technology, talent and entrepreneurial challenges are important for having regional impact.
  • Activities within European RIs may accelerate processes which enhance the scientific and entrepreneurial culture in European regions.
  • The development and operation of RIs benefit primarily local and regional companies and provide new jobs at many levels.

Overall European RIs form dynamic “eco-systems” which may provide prospects and opportunities to the most valuable asset of European regions: People!

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


Example 2: The Laser Facility at FORTH in Crete

(a member of the LASERLAB-Europe Network)

Access provided during1990-2012

270 projects,440 researchers from 19 European countries in3043days of access

socio economic impact of iesl forth
Socio - economic impact of IESL - FORTH
  • The Laser RI at FORTH has been the nucleus for the development of IESL-FORTH which has:
  • led to the creation of 240 jobs of mostly highly skilled personnel (administrative, technical, scientific)
    • the cost of salaries for these jobs is ~ 6.5 M €/year while the Regular Budget received from the State is ca. 2 M €/year!
    • apart from salaries, contributes directly to the local economy ~ 4 M €/year (consumables, services, scientific tourism etc)
  • a multiplier effect on local business and the establishment of 4 spinoff companies
  • become the pole of attraction of talented young researchers and prominent scientists in the region of Crete
  • contributed to the development of the University of Crete
  • created a “scientific school” with alumni and networks worldwide
  • a cultural, social and educational impact on the local community including outreach activities

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


RIs and Regional Policy Issues

The “smart growth for Europe 2020” in a time of crisis should place emphasis on capacity building through:

supporting RIs based on regional scientific excellence and talent thus optimizing the use of European resources and complementing the impact of major RIs.

establishing networks of RIs for less research-intensive countries.

supporting “Regional Partner Facilities” (RPFs)” forenhancing the impact of scientific talent and expertise in the Regions and the global impact of European RIs.

Example: Greek researchers in 2012 (i.e. in a year of deep crisis) produced 9281 scientific papers with 1.13% of them at the top 1% of most cited papers worldwide (Nature, v.492, 324 (2012)). – A performance comparable to that of highly research active countries!

  • RPFs may be an effective way towards enhancing scientific and technological excellence and simultaneously countering societal, cultural and economic challenges at regional level.

C. Fotakis, IESL-FORTH ([email protected])


Priorities and Vision

  • Consolidate RIs as multi-disciplinary platforms for regional/global collaborations
  • Pool and reinforce regional capacities
  • Support international collaborations that are strategic for European scientific partnerships
  • Adopt adequate organizational and governance models
future eu research which path to follow
Future EU research: Which path to follow?
  • From thematic priorities to problem oriented Challenges?
  • Increased coordination of national budgets or strengthening of European institutions (EIT, ERC…)?
  • Balance between:
    • National versus European level?
    • Frontier research versus problem oriented research?
    • Collaboration versus competition?
  • Governance of ERA?