InRoad: harmonised planning of research infrastructures in Europe

Injektor SwissFEL - Paul Scherrer Institut

Stronger together: European countries should better synchronise their strategies for research infrastructures. This is the aim of the InRoad project, coordinated and led by the SNSF.

​Having access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure (RI) is often a pre-condition for excellent research. Such infrastructures include high-performance calculators, particle accelerators or networked data archives. Planning, building and operating them is very expensive. For this reason, European countries are increasingly forced to jointly implement RIs.

Different strategies

This is easier said than done. Because each country has its own strategy for research infrastructures. How do we decide whether to build an infrastructure or not? What should the planning process look like? Who pays and how much? The answers to these questions vary greatly. As a result, it is difficult and time-consuming to implement joint RIs and this places Europe at a competitive disadvantage compared to North America and Asia.

Good examples and case studies

For this reason, European countries need to align evaluation, decision-making and funding mechanisms. The InRoad project, an initiative of the European funding programme Horizon 2020, is expected to deliver in these areas. The SNSF is coordinating and leading the project. In surveys, interviews and workshops, good examples of how research infrastructures can be assessed, planned, funded and realised are collected. Case studies are also conducted. The results of the project will be presented in December 2018. Organisations from 11 countries, among them the SNSF and the University of Lausanne, are participating in the project.

"I believe that InRoad will enable European countries to harmonise their national strategies for internationally significant research infrastructures," says coordinator Martin Müller. As a research funding organisation, the SNSF has an interest in the efficient implementation and long-term funding of RIs - at both the European and the national level.