Conclusion of InRoad: how to plan research infrastructures more efficiently

The InRoad initiative aimed at harmonizing policies and funding instruments related to research infrastructures (RIs) in Europe. It was coordinated by the SNSF.

Switzerland is known for hosting one of the world’s most prestigious RI providers in the world, the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN). CERN and its Large Hadron Collider show what successful European collaboration can achieve in the area of RIs: providing exceptional technological capabilities to conduct excellent science.
However, RIs are increasingly complex and costly. Decision-making, funding processes, as well as evaluation methodologies, need to be better aligned between different countries and with the EU level. The goal of the InRoad project was to support this alignment with concrete recommendations, in view of the long-term sustainability of European RIs.

10 recommendations

During its two years of activity, the InRoad project conducted an online consultation, comparative analyses, workshops with stakeholders across Europe, case studies and interviews. The results of the project have now been published in a final report, containing 10 recommendations and 31 associated good practices.

The report recommends among others clear and transparent national decision-making processes for the establishment of new research infrastructures. The processes should consider a series of minimal elements such as clear identification of needs and gaps, sound evaluation practices and a transparent prioritization of needs. User communities should also better prioritize their needs, with a long-term perspective.

A first step

“InRoad has clearly shown that there is a big heterogeneity between national research infrastructure funding and decision-making practices and that some countries are more advanced than others”, says coordinator Martin Müller."Our analysis put forward a selection of benchmark elements and good practices that should help to improve the system overall. It is a first step.” The recommendations will now be further worked out by bodies such as the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures and will support the development of a more efficient European Research Area.

InRoad, an initiative of the European funding programme Horizon 2020, was coordinated and managed by the SNSF. The exchange of good practices and a better understanding of RI evaluation processes in other countries in Europe can help the SNSF gain expertise for supporting future Swiss RI roadmapping processes.