In recent years, research infrastructures have gained importance for European research. Regarding the generation of new knowledge, new technologies and their use, they play an ever increasing role for Europe as a research location.
Research infrastructures play an ever increasing role for the further development of knowledge and technology. They provide unique research services for users from different countries; they attract young people to science and help form a scientific community.
New findings and, implicitly, innovations can only develop using high-quality and easily accessible research infrastructures: for example radiation sources, databases in genome research, observatories for environmental sciences, imaging systems or clean rooms in the study and development of new materials or in nanoelectronics. In addition, research infrastructures contribute to the creation of new research environments. Here, all researchers – whether within the context of their universities or in national/multinational scientific initiatives – can have access to unique scientific facilities, independent of their kind and their location in the world.
Research infrastructures are therefore in the focus of the knowledge triangle of “Research, Education and Innovation”. They produce knowledge through research; they disseminate it through education and apply it through innovation.
Research infrastructures may be "single-sited" or "distributed" (an organized network of resources) or "virtual" (the service is electronically available). They include:
Large apparatus or instruments for research purposes
Knowledge-based resources such as compilations, archives, structured information
ICT-infrastructures such as GRID, computers, software
any other unique facility for scientific research
Objectives/ research priorities are:
Optimization of already existing research infrastructures
Establishment of e-research infrastructures
Contribution to the establishment of new infrastructures.