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Research Infrastructures

Research Infrastructures (RIs) are facilities, resources and related services used by the scientific community to conduct world class research. BBSRC plays a lead role in the coordination, development and delivery of relevant RIs, to ensure direct benefits to the UK bioscience and address the grand challenges we are facing in collaboration with Europe and beyond.

European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)

As RIs become more complex and costly, often requiring transnational integration, ensuring a coordinated approach at the European level has never been more important. ESFRI was established in 2002. ESFRI aims to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe and to facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to the better use and development of RIs. ESFRI brings together representatives of EU member states and associated states, who have been appointed by ministers in charge of research, alongside a representative of the European Commission. UK representation is provided by both BBSRC along and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

There are many benefits for coordination of RIs at the European level, these include:

  • Sharing costs and access to a suite of world class facilitates
  • Ensuring a range of services to a wide range of stakeholders from scientists to society
  • The potential for integration of RIs with existing services and broadening their uptake
  • Enhancing knowledge, mobility and opportunities for innovation
  • Enabling coherent international engagement with non-European RIs
  • Enhancing the sustainability of core resources and associated expertise

The ESFRI Roadmap

The ESFRI Roadmap (see external links) identifies new RIs of pan-European interest corresponding to the long term needs of the European research communities, covering all scientific areas, regardless of possible location. ESFRI launched its latest Roadmap in March 2016, featuring 21 RIs, many of which have been combined from the 2008 Roadmap, together with new RIs.

RIs on the ESFRI Roadmap are not guaranteed funding. However they are eligible to apply for "Preparatory phase" funding from the European Commission to coordinate and develop technical, governance and funding aspects to enable their implementation and operation.

BBSRC involvement in ESFRI projects

BBSRC participates in a number of ESFRI RIs, which are of strategic relevance to BBSRC and its wider scientific community. Each ESFRI RI is unique but they generally follow the same lifecycle:

  • Preparatory phase: develop scientific services, access to RI and legal, governance, funding and framework for long-term operation
  • Construction and implementation phase: RI move towards operation by establishing the governance including the necessary bodies for operation, identify host country, progress construction of RI including office space, recruitment of staff and testing of services
  • Operation phase: RI begins operation including provision of access to its facilities and services by its users

BBSRC involvement in ESFRI preparatory phase projects centres on the development of the funding, governance and legal aspects of RIs. This allows BBSRC consideration of research infrastructure needs that match both UK and EU strategic drivers, without commitment to invest.

ESFRIs which BBSRC is actively involved in:

Research Infrastructure First inclusion on ESFRI Current life cycle status BBSRC's involvement in the ESFRI
2010 Interim phase (from November 2016) BBSRC leads on the Preparatory phase funding governance and legal work package.
2006 Consortium phase (since December 2013) BBSRC leads on the preparatory phase funding strategy work package.

BBSRC is a signatory to the interim phase MoU.

BBSRC was the signatory of the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement, for the UK as a founding member.
2010 Interim phase (until 2017)  
2016 Preparatory phase (begins in January 2017) BBSRC leads on the legal framework and governance work package.
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2010 Interim phase (since August 2016) BBSRC leads on the preparatory phase funding governance and legal work package.

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