It is more than 4 months ago that the 2nd International Conference on Research Infrastructure (ICRI2014) took place in Athens. In three days (2-4 April 2014), around 100 distinguished speakers and further 400 high-level representatives of national governments, funding bodies and research institutions from all over the world took part in the discussions for the present and future of Research Infrastructures at the European and global level.

Zoran Stančič, the Deputy Director General of DG CONNECT, was chairing the plenary session on "Innovation Potential of Research Infrastructures". During this session a lot of interesting presentations were given. We will share with you some of the interesting readings that speakers shared with the audience.

The report Innovation from Big Science: Enhancing Big Science Impact Agenda (2014) examines the potential of shared, large-scale scientific facilities to contribute to innovation above and beyond their immediate scientific mission.

The OECD has a series of reports on the innovation potential of Research Infrastructures. The report International Distributing Research Infrastructures: Issues and Options (2014) of the Global Science Forum (GSF) followed the publication Large Research Infrastructures, which dealt primarily with large single-site facilities. The latest report addresses the challenges associated with the international infrastructures that are distributed geographically. "This report presents findings, analyses and conclusions regarding formal status, governance, establishment, funding, access and other issues related to these new decentralised research infrastructures" (p. 3). The third report, The impacts of Large Research Infrastructures on Economic Innovation and on Society. Case studies at CERN (2014), "addresses the potential economic and societal impacts of international research facilities, using case studies from one of the largest global research infrastructures: the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). (p. 3). Jean-Marie Le Goff has been presenting extensively the innovation impact of CERN (for example, see this presentation).

The relationship between large research facilities and innovation is examined also in the study Big Science and Innovation (Technopolis, 2013). The societal impacts of large-scale research facilities are reviewed in the article The societal footprint of big science: A literature review in support of evidence-based decision making (Rathenau Instituut). The writers argue that "the literature provides no direct, empirical evidence to show that such impacts actually occur around large-scale research facilities". They urge for the need for "empirical research on large-scale research facilities and their effects on science, economy and society" (p. 3).

We close this short reference to the interesting readings suggested at the ICRI2014 with the report Return on Investment in Large Scale Research Infrastructure (National Research Council Canada, 2013). "This study introduces a systematic approach to evaluating the benefits from investments in large scale research infrastructure that will assist" (p. i) policy makers in their decision making. The approach is illustrated by using the example of TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics by performing an analysis of Return on Investment (ROI) over a ten year period (2003-2012).

It would be interesting to see whether this approach could be applied at the European Research Infrastructures.

Do you have other studies to propose to us? Follow us in twitter and send us your comments and suggestions.

Other interesting link: