Part 1
Strategy Report

What is new in the ESFRI Roadmap 2021

The ESFRI Roadmap 2021 reflects the lifecycle of several ESFRI Projects that entered in 2010 and that, in most cases, reached an advanced degree of implementation moving therefore to the Landmark list and ‘Strengthening the European RI ecosystem’. The ‘Strategic Landscape Analysis as a key element’ of ESFRI Methodology captures the most relevant Research Infrastructures that are available to European scientists. The ‘New projects are filling gaps in European RI capacities’ in the diverse thematic domains.

Strengthening the European RI Ecosystem

The Roadmap 2021 further highlights the Landmarks list as a core element representing the group of implemented RIs that emerged from the ESFRI process. They represent the most advanced undertakings at global level in their fields, strengthening the competitiveness of European science. The four new Landmarks reinforce the Energy, Environment, and Health & Food domains with strategic long-term investments in research capability and capacity.

The ensemble of ESFRI Landmarks is one of the essential pillars of the ERA. It complements – and intersects with – the EIROforum to form a full pan-European portfolio of longterm undertakings in excellent science and innovation, thus creating unique opportunities for further internationalization. In adopting the new Landmarks, ESFRI considered the specific merit of those projects, having successfully completed their incubation through the Roadmap.

Landmarks, which are in operation and accessible to users, offer not only excellent conditions for doing science today, but also provide unique environments for further long-term development of European excellence in Research & Innovation. The research demand develops strongly both at a disciplinary level, often requiring the acquisition of diverse data from different methods, and across disciplines when the complexity of science requires the use of data and merge analyses from different disciplines in order to reach the information which is needed to improve our understanding of the different phenomena. The ensemble of Landmarks, having developed through ESFRI unifying criteria of monitoring and requirements – e.g. on data analysis open-tools and FAIR data management and policy – are in a good position to foster advanced disciplinary as well as multidisciplinary research, thereby increasing the impact of scientific knowledge on society in terms of innovation and societal needs.

STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS AS A KEY ELEMENT

The Landscape Analysis (LA, see PART2) part of the Roadmap 2021 provides an advanced scrutiny of the scientific needs and existing Research Infrastructure gaps as well as directions for strategic investments in the future that would help maintain Europe’s leadership in the global context.

As the renewed ERA envisions stronger contributions of Research & Innovation activities to Europe’s wider policy objectives, the LA adopts a more service-driven and impact-oriented approach maintaining the principle of excellence in science at the heart of European RIs. This demonstrates the relevance of investments in RIs for the environmental, economic and social issues identified at European and International level.

The LA captures the most relevant RIs that are available to European scientists and developers of innovative technologies and methodologies through the international standard of peer-reviewed proposals. ESFRI performed a new exercise to explicitly render the relevant connections among the RIs. These connections are showcased by existing links. New linkage-needs appear as well.

Capitalizing on the common reflection done by ESFRI in the previous roadmaps, the LA 2021 consists of three sections.

SECTION1 gives insight for each domain and indicates in which direction it should evolve and how it can be optimised by stronger collaboration of existing RIs and strategic investments in the future.

SECTION2 gives a different picture and an effective contextual analysis of links and complementarities between the existing European RIs, including general scientific trends across domains.

SECTION3 focuses on the RIs services and their broader impacts, describing what the landscape can do. In order to illustrate explicitly the relevant contributions of RIs to societal challenges, including the capacity to respond to emergencies, the following three areas are described:

  • the analysis of the relevance of ESFRI RIs for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • the analysis of capacity of RIs to respond to emergencies, as for example in the case of the COVID-19 crisis;
  • the contribution of ESFRI RIs to the digital transformation, including the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

The LA is the prerequisite for strategic priority setting at European and national level as any future investment in RIs must be evaluated against its impact on the Landscape. Consequently, the LA is a key reference for the understanding of the Roadmap, its content and its analysis. It also demonstrates the relevance of investments in RIs for the environmental, economic and social issues identified at European and International level. It is a decisive tool to promote European RIs and their services and to reach out to new international partners. This essential role of the LA of the European RIs was acknowledged in the Council conclusions of 30th November 2018Conclusions of the Council of the European Union of 30 November 2018 on Governance of the European Research Area. Doc. 14989/18 
https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14989-2018-INIT/en/pdf 
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NEW PROJECTS FILLING GAPS IN EUROPEAN RI CAPACITIES

The new entries in the Roadmap 2021 reinforce important areas of research in which insufficient capacities exist in Europe. They will also make essential contributions to fostering research relevant for some of the key EU priorities, such as health, the Green Deal, digital transition or strengthening the EU social pillar.

The European Brain ReseArch INfrastructureS (EBRAINS) is unique worldwide in providing access to the most comprehensive set of brain data, along with tools to share, analyse and store data, and to run virtual experiments. It is also unique in making High Performance Computing available to brain research, which it does through the Fenix and PRACE networks, enabling data and compute-intensive research.

The Scientific Large-scale Infrastructure for Computing/Communication Experimental Studies (SLICES) adds a unique and significant value to the existing European research capacity by delivering a reference large-scale RI under public initiatives, as a trusted platform for large-scale experimentation of novel Digital Infrastructure science and technology, possibly also supporting disruptive innovations.

The European Integrated Infrastructure for Social Mining and Big Data Analytics (SoBigData++) responds to the rising demand for cross-disciplinary Research & Innovation on the multiple aspects of social complexity from combined data-driven and model-driven perspectives; it also responds to the rising importance of ethics and data scientists’ responsibility as a pillar of trustworthy use of Big Data and analytical technology.

The Marine Renewable Energy Research Infrastructure (MARINERG-i) will facilitate national and international collaboration, creating the critical mass of knowledge, skills and resources necessary to sustainably develop the ORE industry. It will provide access to the highest quality testing facilities with a common research agenda focused on the development of innovative, investable ORE technologies.

The Research Infrastructure for EnvIRonmental Exposure assessmeNt in Europe (EIRENE RI) addresses the gap and bridges the H&F, Environment and Social domains to develop necessary tools and services to accelerate European exposome research. Unique experimental and computing capacities for assessment of environmental exposures to toxic mixtures will address the research community needs currently not answered.

The Einstein Telescope (ET) responds to the desire from a broad scientific community to observe signals from across the cosmos to understand the very origins of our Universe. Despite their success, in terms of distances explored, the current reach of 2G observatories such as LIGO and Virgo is limited to a region that, on cosmological scales, is still our local neighbourhood, leaving much of the curiosity of scientists unquenched.

The European Plasma Research Accelerator with Excellence in Applications (EuPRAXIA) will address the demand for increased access to FEL facilities in Europe; offers unique features in time resolution, pump-probe capabilities, spatial resolution for X-ray imaging and penetration depth for material analysis; will be the first RI worldwide to realise an accelerator facility based on novel concepts that so far have only been used in experimental tests; provides unique opportunities for education and training in innovative technologies in the ERA and beyond.

The Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) fills in a gap from a life course perspective with its focus on young adults and the child-rearing years. Substantively, it is positioned alongside SHARE ERIC with its focus on the older ages, and the emerging birth cohort study (GUIDE/EuroCohort) with its focus on children and adolescents. Moreover, the GGP aims at addressing societal challenges related to population and family dynamics, and is thus complementary to SHARE’s expertise on health and ageing, and the GUIDE/EuroCohort on well-being.

The Growing Up in Digital Europe: EuroCohort (GUIDE) will be able to give valuable information on how early life experiences have a clear effect on later life outcomes. Together, GUIDE/EuroCohort, GGP and SHARE can deliver a comprehensive picture of the European life course from early years until later life. They cover all the major phases of life and adapt the methods and content of their data collection to suit the target population.

The OPen scholarly communication in the European Research Area for Social Sciences and Humanities (OPERAS) fills a gap in the European landscape, between generic e-Infrastructures and RIs dedicated to research data in specific disciplines or topics. OPERAS deals with a neglected part of the research lifecycle, regarding the production and access to research outputs, and supports multilingual scholarly communication cultures in SSH.

The REligious Studies Infrastructure: tooLs, Innovation, Experts, conNections and Centres in Europe (RESILIENCE) responds to the challenges of the European societal landscape and of dialogue with neighbouring countries, and also fills the gap in the RI landscape by giving physical and digital access to major relevant data archives for Religious Studies – which are not yet part of ERA, mostly for historical or geographical reasons; fostering the digitisation of collections of dead and rare languages both handwritten and in print; providing domain-specific ontologies as well as providing sophisticated communication platforms among researchers, social actors and decision makers.

The updated and complete list of 22 ESFRI PROJECTS and 41 ESFRI LANDMARKS (see PART3 for details) is linked Here.