Bulgarian Presidency Flagship Conference
Research Infrastructures beyond 2020 – sustainable and effective ecosystem for science and society .
Sofia Tech Park, Sofia, Bulgaria 22-23 March 2018
Building an effective, sustainable and inclusive European Research Infrastructure (RI) ecosystem is one of the key elements for the development and improvement of knowledge and technology and for the overall competitiveness of our continent. In particular, Research Infrastructures are important hubs for generating new knowledge and training highly skilled human capital.
Long-term sustainability of Research Infrastructures has been repeatedly highlighted as one of the main challenges for the overall research and innovation system in Europe. Overcoming this challenge will depend on a common understanding and agreement among policy-makers at all levels and research managers, as well as the industrial stakeholders.
Preconditions for long-term sustainability of RIs have been identified by the European Commission through broad stakeholder consultation launched in December 2015, which resulted in a report published in May 2016. At the same time, the Competitiveness Council underlined the importance of this challenge and invited the Commission to prepare, together with ESFRI and relevant stakeholders, a targeted action plan. In response, ESFRI established a dedicated Working Group which proposed seven high-level recommendations in its report adopted by the Forum on 21 June 2017. Further, the European Commission, drawing on the work of ESFRI as well as numerous inputs of other stakeholders, developed a Staff Working Document (SWD) where 42 elements were identified as a basis for a future Action Plan.
It’s now time to launch and discuss the priorities for the future of European Research Infrastructures with Member States and stakeholders.
Concept and objectives
The overall objective of the conference is to reflect on the SWD, explore and discuss a concrete set of actions to foster sustainability and impact of European research infrastructures on industry, policy and society. The outcome of this high-level event will be a European Call for Action on Long-term Sustainability of Research Infrastructures to provide the impetus for full realisation of the potential of the European Research Area in order to further boost broad-based research and innovation. The Call for Action will therefore foster long-term competitiveness and excellence of the RIs in Europe and world-wide.
The conference will provide a platform for discussion and dialogue between policy, research and industry stakeholders on the future of the Research Infrastructures policies and their contribution to research excellence, innovation, growth and jobs. The event will in particular contribute to the debate on how to effectively foster the inclusiveness of the European Research Area by spreading excellence across the regions and opening-up to industry and society, thus reducing the innovation divide in Europe. Its further aim is to increase visibility and promote partnership between Research Infrastructures, business and academia for efficient implementation of broad-based innovation and business models, fostering open data sharing and multi-actor involvement. Finally, the conference will explore the ways to take full advantage of the educational and training potential of Research Infrastructures for the Skills Agenda, in particular regarding the next generation of researchers and innovators.
The conference will be divided into three main blocks:
1) Background and the main challenges
This block will include opening addresses and a keynote speech on the main challenges for European RIs.
2) Key elements for the Action Plan
This block will consist of three sessions focused on the key issues to be addressed in the Action Plan. The first session will focus on the synchronisation of RI policies at different levels, including, among others, national roadmaps, coordination of investments, dedicated RI budgets, co-funding mechanisms, etc. The second session will explore synergies, including complementarity of the different EU funding sources and mechanisms, opportunities for collaboration of RIs in different domains and of different size, transnational access to RIs, etc. The third session would focus on RIs as hubs of innovation, including opportunities for collaboration with industry, innovative services, digital skills, user involvement strategies, educational role of RIs, etc. This session will be followed by dedicated activities at the exhibition, focusing on achieving an impact.
3) The European Call for Action
This session will include a political panel which will conclude the conference and present the European Call for Action on Long-term sustainability of RIs.