ESFRI 72nd Plenary Meeting extended the term of its Chair Jan Hrušák

The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) concluded its first ever fully online Plenary meeting on 16th and 17th June 2020 due to the persistence of COVID-19 pandemic measures. ESFRI presented ESFRI Roadmap 2021 update, vision for the implementation of the ESFRI post-2020 European research infrastructure ecosystem and discussed the monitoring of research infrastructures. The Forum also decided to extend the term of its Chair Jan Hrušák till the end of 2021.

 “There is a clear message that, especially in these challenging times, Pan-European large scale Research Infrastructures, as a component of the new European Research Area, are a key pillar for a science-based response and a major facilitator of innovation and societal change,” said the ESFRI Chair Jan Hrušák from the J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Monitoring of the 2016 ESFRI projects

The status of the Roadmap 2021 update process was presented to the delegates together with the evaluation of the six Projects that entered the ESFRI Roadmap family in 2016. ACTRIS, DANUBIUS, EMPHASIS, E-RIHS, EST and KM3Net were all fully reviewed by teams of experts and considered to be on track with their implementation plans.

Landscape Analysis of research infrastructures

ESFRI discussed how it should exploit its extensive know-how and capacity to summon expert effort in order to offer an enhanced edition of the Landscape Analysis (LA), a major part of the Roadmap that attempts to map and analyse what the situation and needs for RIs are in all scientific fields. It was decided that this new edition of LA will build towards a more strategic approach, including content of broader social and political interest (Sustainable Development Goals, emergency response capacity, open access in science, etc.), and will be developed in closer interaction with the RIs.

ESFRI White Paper

Since the “Making Science Happen” White Paper has been published this Spring, it has received acclaim by all Research & Innovation stakeholders across Europe and beyond. The Forum recognised that the White Paper is now seen as a catalyst for policy making and setting priorities, as it proposes a convincing new role of the RIs as an ecosystem integral to the advancement of science, innovation, national/regional development and global cooperation. To support RIs in playing this role, the Forum discussed an action plan for implementing the key messages and recommendations of the White Paper, reaffirming the need to include all stakeholders in this work. To this end, it was decided that a Stakeholders Forum will be set-up to create a space that will allow all voices to be heard and all hands to work together towards common goals.

ESFRI Monitoring Approach

Another important issue discussed at this 72nd ESFRI meeting was that of the monitoring of already established and science-producing RIs (Landmarks). The results of the work by an ad-hoc ESFRI Working Group and of the EC High-Level Expert Group on this matter were presented and extensively discussed. It has been made clear that monitoring of RIs both via specific KPIs and other methodologies is vital for keeping the ecosystem robust and trustworthy. The exact details of the implementation of the proposals made by those two Groups are to be finalized in the months to come.

ESFRI Chair, Jan Hrušák, of J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, stated: “A methodology for monitoring of research infrastructures is a strategic step. It can even be compared to the creation of the very first ESFRI Roadmap of research infrastructures published in 2006. We have an opportunity to design monitoring that can be on a voluntary basis applied and adapt to any research infrastructure. The great symbolic role lies in contributing to European integration. Practically, it would allow reducing the administration burden.”

Extended terms

Finally, the Forum extended the term of its Chair Jan Hrušák together with the members of the Executive Board and Working Group Chairs for one more year, till the end of 2021. This will allow for the smooth conclusion of the Roadmap 2021 Update process, implementation of the White Paper and alignment with the renewed European Research Area strategies.

Author: Vladimíra Coufalová, J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences