ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, 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 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 to support their Preparatory and Implementation phase. 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.
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). 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.