ECRI 2010

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Ministerio de Ciencia e InnovaciónPresidencia Española 2010EUESFRI

Prioritization of Research Infrastructures

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Date: 
2010/03/23
Time: 
15:00 - 16:30
Location: 
Room Forum (H2-H3-J), Level -1
Chair: 
Federico Mayor
Roundtable discussion: 
Anne Marie Lansdown
Roundtable discussion: 
Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph
Roundtable discussion: 
Enric Banda
Roundtable discussion: 
Iain Mattaj
Roundtable discussion: 
Malcolm Skingle
Roundtable discussion: 
Raffaele Liberali
Abstract: 

The realisation of infrastructure projects from the ESFRI roadmap will hinge on the formation of powerful consortia of interested national partners. In order to facilitate this process, a European discussion about the criteria for the national prioritisation of research infrastructures is needed.

Since the aim is to decide amongst top proposals from all kinds of research fields, scientific merit, while an important necessary requirement for eligibility, will not be discriminatory enough. Also, a rational decision process should not favour speed over quality, which makes maturity a problematic criterion as well.

Therefore, it is suggested to work on clarifying a number of more mundane issues in comparing infrastructures. One of these is overall cost efficiency, including both investment and operation costs and relating these to the size of the community which the prospective infrastructure will serve. A second issue is the question of specificity versus multi-purpose platforms, and the consequences these differences have for the risks involved in an investment. A related problem is whether a specific infrastructure is local or distributed. In these regards, the aim should be to achieve a healthy balance rather than a biased set of infrastructures that conform to a common role-model. Another big issue will be the comparison of infrastructure projects in terms of the grand challenges to which they will contribute. However, there will be no one-on-one relation between challenges and infrastructures, so the discriminatory effect of these considerations on the ensuing priorities will be limited.

Attention should also be paid to the process through which priorities are agreed upon. It is important to ensure a close communication between science and politics in that process, and to develop trust in the process itself. Measures should be taken to reduce uncertainty, particularly concerning costs; and to ensure the diversity of the resulting infrastructure portfolio.