Research Infrastructures

About Research Infrastructures

What are Research Infrastructures?

Research infrastructures (RIs) are facilities, resources and services used by the science community to conduct research and foster innovation.

By pooling effort and developing RIs, European countries can achieve excellence in highly-demanding scientific fields and simultaneously build the European Research Area (ERA) and Innovation Union.

They include: major scientific equipment, resources such as collections, archives or scientific data, e-infrastructures such as data and computing systems, and communication networks.

RIs can be single-sited (a single resource at a single location), distributed (a network of distributed resources), or virtual (the service is provided electronically).


Why are Research Infrastructures so important?

Innovation in science and technology is vital to solving Europe's economic and societal challenges. These solutions require access to complex and costly RIs.

Efficient RIs enable the greatest discoveries in science and technology, attract researchers from around the world and build bridges between research communities. They allow the training of researchers and facilitate innovation and knowledge-sharing.


The European Research Infrastructure landscape

The following three Research Infrastructure categories reflect the need for action at all levels — national, regional, European and global, to tackle research challenges and avoid duplication of effort:

  • Intergovernmental RIs: Well-established RIs supported by EU Member States (e.g. EIROforum)
  • New Pan-European RIs: RIs listed in the ESFRI Roadmap, including those with European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) legal status
  • National RIs of European interest: National and regional RIs that receive EU support, in particular through Integrating Activities projects for transnational access, open to all European researchers from academia and industry



Examples of RIs

  • CERN
    the world's largest particle physics laboratory
    the Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network
  • The GÉANT
    a high-speed network (e-Infrastructure)