European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures - ESFRI

Created in 2002 by EU Member States and the European Commission to develop the scientific integration of Europe, and to strengthen its international outreach, ESFRI has become an increasingly important forum to advise ministries and funding agencies. Some associated countries (Albania, Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey) also participate in ESFRI.

ESFRI has identified 48 projects for new research infrastructures (or major upgrade) in a European Roadmap first published in 2006 and updated in 2008 and 2010. The Roadmap highlights the key new research infrastructures needed for European research and innovation over the next decades. It addresses all scientific fields that require large-scale research infrastructures and/or distributed ones, including e-research infrastructures, with a joint effort on European or international scale.

The ESFRI list covers areas of social sciences and humanities, the materials and physical sciences, the energy and engineering field as well as environmental, Earth and life sciences. These projects are very diverse in size and character: the construction costs could be up to €1.5 billion, and annual operational costs per infrastructure of between €2 million and €120 million.

The European Commission hosts the ESFRI Secretariat and a Commission representative is a member of the Forum. The Commission manages EU budget contributions of up to €6 million per project to support their preparatory phase. The EU also supports clusters of projects in the same field to respond to common implementation needs, notably regarding data management and access issues.

The total EU contribution to ESFRI projects so far amounts to about €700 million, out of which €282 million has come from EU research programmes. For example, the EU granted about €48 million for the implementation of PRACE - Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe. PRACE provides access to distributed pan-European world class high performance computing and data management resources and services located in Germany, France Spain and Italy. In addition, one project, ELI – Extreme Light Infrastructure, has been granted €416 million of structural funds for the construction of two facilities to be built in the Czech Republic and Romania. A third ELI facility is to be located in Hungary, which will also benefit from structural funds.

Further support is planned under the next research programme Horizon 2020 which will allocate a dedicated budget to support the implementation and operation of pan-European world class research infrastructures.

About half of the ESFRI projects are now in their implementation phase. The headquarters of most of these infrastructures are (or will be) located in about 13 Member states see map below).

However their facilities or resources are spread over many countries, as well as outside the European Union. Almost all EU countries are participating in one or more ESFRI project. The Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative – Innovation Union set a clear target: Member States together with the Commission should have completed or launched the construction of 60% of the priority ESFRI research infrastructures by 2015.

What are ERICs?

ERIC stands for European Research Infrastructure Consortium. It is a European legal instrument that was adopted by the Council in 2009 to facilitate the establishment and operation of European research infrastructures on a non-economic basis. ERIC endows research infrastructures with a legal personality recognised in all Member States. To date, two European research infrastructures have been established as ERIC: SHARE and CLARIN. Six other applications have been received at the Commission, and six more are expected to be received by end-2012 or in 2013.

Research infrastructures in the implementation phase

In all cases, costs as estimated at time of ESFRI Roadmap 2010 update!

Social Sciences and Humanities

CESSDA - Council of European Social Science Data Archives

- Construction cost: €30 million.

It provides and facilitates access for researchers to high quality data for social sciences. It promotes the acquisition, archiving and distribution of electronic data and encourages the exchange of data. The infrastructure includes 20 social science data archives in 20 European countries. Collectively they serve over 30,000 researchers, providing access to more than 50,000 data collections per annum.

CLARIN-ERIC - Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure - Construction cost: €104 million

This infrastructure facilitates the access for researchers across Europe to multilingual and multicultural content, in all disciplines, in particular the humanities and social sciences. CLARIN-ERIC is turning the existing, fragmented technology and resources into an accessible, flexible and stable services network available from the user's desktop using semantic web technology.

DARIAH – Digital Research Infrastructures for the Arts and Humanities

-Construction cost: €20 million

The mission of DARIAH is to enhance and support digitally-enabled research across the humanities and arts. DARIAH aims to develop and maintain an infrastructure in support of ICT-based research practices.

European Social Survey

- Upgrade cost: €2 million

Upgrade of the European social survey set up in 2001 to monitor long term changes in social values. It is now an academically-driven, long-term pan-European distributed instrument to chart and explain the interaction between Europe's changing institutions and attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of its diverse populations.

SHARE-ERIC - Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe

- Construction cost: €23 million

SHARE-ERIC is a data infrastructure for the socio-economic analysis of on-going changes due to population ageing. SHARE-ERIC is the upgrade into a long term research infrastructure of a multidisciplinary and cross-national database of micro-data of about 45,000 Europeans aged 50 or over.

Environmental sciences

EURO-ARGO - Global Ocean Observing Infrastructure

- Construction cost: €40 million

EURO-ARGO is the European contribution to the global ocean observing system ARGO. The primary goal is to maintain a 3,000 floats array over the next 10 to 20 years. Overall, the Euro-Argo infrastructure should comprise 800 floats in operation at any given time.

ICOS - Integrated Carbon Observation System

- Construction cost: €130 million

ICOS is a distributed research infrastructure for long-term high precision monitoring of atmospheric and oceanic greenhouse gas concentrations and ecosystem fluxes. ICOS will allow understanding the carbon exchange processes between the atmosphere, the terrestrial surface and the ocean across Europe and adjacent regions.

LIFEWATCH, Science and Technology Infrastructure for Research on Biodiversity and Ecosystems

- Construction cost: €255 million

This infrastructure is creating the information systems which are necessary to provide an analytical platform for modeling and simulating existing and new data about biodiversity.


JHR - Jules Horowitz Reactor

– Construction cost: €750 million

This reactor is dedicated to the study of the materials and fuel behaviour for nuclear power plants.

Biological and Medical Sciences

BBMRI - Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure

– Construction costs: €170 million

Pan-European distributed infrastructure of existing and new biobanks and bio-molecular resource centres. It will provide access to human biological samples that are considered essential raw material for the advancement of biotechnology, human health, and research and development in life sciences.

EATRIS - European Advanced Translational Research Infrastructure in Medicine

- Construction cost: from €20 million to €100 million per centre

EATRIS will allow a faster and more efficient translation of research discoveries into new products to prevent, diagnose or treat diseases.

ECRIN - European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network

ECRIN is designed to bridge the fragmentation of clinical research in Europe through integration of national networks of clinical research infrastructures. ECRIN will provide 'one-stop shop' services to investigators and sponsors in multinational clinical research studies.

ELIXIR - European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information

- Construction cost: €470 million

ELIXIR will be a secure, rapidly evolving platform for collection, storage, validation, dissemination and utilisation of biological data. It is setting up an interlinked collection of core and specialised biological data resources distributed across Europe.

INFRAFRONTIER - European Infrastructure for Phenotyping and Archiving of Model Mammalian Genomes

- Construction cost: €180 million

This infrastructure will provide access to scientific platforms, data and services for the systemic phenotyping, archiving and distribution of mouse models, offered by leading facilities from Europe and Canada.

INSTRUCT - Integrated Structural Biology Infrastructure

- Construction cost: €300 million

INSTRUCT is a dynamic, integrated platform which provides open access to state-of-the-art structural biology technologies for researchers. INSTRUCT stimulates innovation at the boundary between technologies, and fosters a valuable relationship with the industry.

Materials Sciences

ESRF - European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

- Construction cost: €241 million

This facility operates the most powerful high energy synchrotron light source in Europe and brings together a wide range of disciplines including physics, chemistry and materials sciences as well as biology, medicine, geophysics and archaeology.

ILL 20/20

- Construction cost: €171 million

ILL 20/20 is an upgrade of the European Neutron Spectroscopy Facility. It is recognised as the world's most productive and reliable source of slow neutrons for the study of condensed matter.

European XFEL - European Hard X-ray Free Electron Laser

- Construction cost: €1.1 billion

XFEL will be a world leading facility for the production of intense, short pulses of X-rays for scientific research in a wide range of disciplines. European XFEL is under construction in Hamburg, Germany.

ESS - European Spallation Source

- Construction cost: €1.5 billion

The European Spallation Source will be the world's most powerful long-pulse source of neutrons at 5 MW. It will serve a community of 5,000 researchers across many areas of science and technology. The ESS will be a genuine pan-European facility: co-hosted by Sweden and Denmark, it will be built in Lund, Sweden, with a data management centre located in Copenhagen. Physical Sciences and Engineering

E-ELT - European Extremely Large Telescope

- Construction cost: €1.1 billion

E-ELT will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world. It will maintain and reinforce Europe’s position at the forefront of astrophysical research by allowing detailed studies of subjects including planets around other stars, the first objects in the Universe, super-massive black holes, and the nature and distribution of the dark matter and dark energy. Coordinated under the umbrella of ESO, the European Southern Observatory, the E-ELT will be built in Chile.

SKA - Square Kilometre Array

- Construction cost: €1.5 billion

The Square Kilometre Array will be the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. It will be able to survey the sky more than 10,000 times faster than any existing radio telescope. In May 2012, the members of the SKA organisation, currently located in Manchester, United-Kingdom, agreed on a dual site solution for the SKA telescope: South Africa, Karoo region, and the Mid-West region of western Australia (near Perth).

ELI - Extreme-Light-Infrastructure

– Implementation cost: €845 million

ELI will be dedicated to the various science and research applications of ultra-intense and ultra-short laser pulses. It will provide high-quality access to the international research community for prospective applications in medicine, radiography, fusion energy, environment, materials sciences, nanotechnologies, biochemistry. It will consist initially of three facilities, located in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.

FAIR - Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research

- Construction cost: €1 billion

This facility will provide high energy primary and secondary beams of ions of highest intensity and quality, including an 'antimatter beam' of antiprotons allowing forefront research in five different disciplines of physics. The accelerator facility will be built in Darmstadt, Germany.

SPIRAL 2 - Facility for the production and study of rare isotope radioactive beams

- Construction cost: €196 million

SPIRAL 2 will deliver stable and rare isotope beams with intensities not yet available with present machines. It will reinforce the European leadership in the field of nuclear physics based on exotic nuclei.


PRACE - Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe

– Construction cost: €100 million for the 5 first years

PRACE is a European strategic approach to high-performance computing. It concentrates resources distributed in a limited number of world-class top-tier centres in a single infrastructure, forming a scientific computing network. PRACE provides access to distributed pan-European world class high performance computing and data management resources and services located in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.