e-Infrastructures provide digital-based services and tools for data- and computing-intensive research in virtual and collaborative environments. They foster the emergence of Open Science, i.e. new working methods based on the shared use of digital tools and resources across different disciplines and technology domains as well as sharing of results and an open way of working together.
e-Infrastructures are key in future development of research infrastructures, as activities go increasingly online and produce vast amounts of data. This support is essential for example to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). Furthermore, e-Infrastructures enable and support the circulation of knowledge in Europe online and therefore constitute an essential building block for the European Research Area (ERA).
European Open Science Cloud
To capitalise on the data revolution, the European Commission launched in 2016 the "European Cloud Initiative - Building a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe". Under this initiative, the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) federates existing and emerging e-Infrastructures to provide European science, industry and public authorities with:
• world-class data infrastructure to store and manage data
• high-speed connectivity to transport data
• powerful high performance computers (HPC) to process data.
The European Cloud initiative will fully unlock the value of big data and foster scientific and technological innovation while helping achieve the objectives of the Digital Single Market Strategy.
- Under the EU Research and Innovation (R&I) programme, Horizon 2020, the e-Infrastructures activity is part of the Research Infrastructures Work programme 2018-2020. The Work Programme 2018-2020 provides support to actions included in the 2016 Communication on the European Cloud Initiative, in particular to further integrate and consolidate e-infrastructure platforms, to connect the ESFRI infrastructures to EOSC, and to develop a European Data Infrastructures (EDI).
- Beyond 2020, the deployment and operation of excellent e-infrastructures and their increasing federation into EOSC will remain an important objective of the next R&I funding programme of the EU, Horizon Europe and of the new Digital Europe Programme .
- The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) also contributes to the deployment of innovative e-infrastructures through the funding of projects as MyAcademicID, which aims to support a digital infrastructure for secure and seamless exchange of data between higher education institutions in Europe.
- The second generation of the CEF programme for the period 2021-2027, CEF2 Digital, aims to support and stimulate digital infrastructure investments in Member States, with a specific attention brought to backbone networks of strategic importance, such as HPC, cloud infrastructures and submarine cables between and within Member States and between the EU and third countries. A proposed budget of €3 billion is deemed the minimum necessary to achieve such support across the EU.
- Building on the success of the Juncker Plan, the InvestEU Programme will further boost investment, innovation and job creation in Europe and mobilise at least €650 billion in additional investment in the next long-term EU budget (2021-2027). It will bring together under one roof the EFSI and 13 other EU financial instruments currently supporting investment, making EU funding simpler to access and more effective.The InvestEU Fund will support four main policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium businesses; and social investment and skills.