Research Infrastructures of the Future – synergies, sustainability, smart specialization and social impact – FUTURIS 2019

The Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science and the Executive Agency for the Operational Program Science and Education for Smart Growth organized an international conference focused on the synchronisation of national and EU efforts towards the next programming period in the context of long-term sustainability of European research and innovation infrastructures. The event gathered high-level speakers and around 200 participants to the National Palace of Culture in Sofia on 10th and 11th December 2019.

The conference programme was structured around 2 main pillars. The first one dedicated to Pan-European research infrastructures and Horizon Europe, and the second pillar focused on the topic of research infrastructures in the context of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

5 conference panels operated as a platform for the European Commission, EU member states policy makers and managers of leading EU research infrastructures to share their experience and vision on smart and sustainable development of local, regional and European research infrastructures, as well as on the ESIF and Horizon Europe synergy that foster the development of the next generation of excellent European scientists and RI managers.

The conference was opened and welcomed by the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Education and Science Karina Angelieva, the EC representatives and followed by an inspirational keynote speech of Prof. Michel Spiro, President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) who introduced the idea and future actions of “2022 International Year for Basic Science for Sustainable Development”.

5 panels topics were as follows:

  1. Towards a new ambition for European science to find sustainable solutions to growing global challenges.
  2. Shared experience and next steps towards long-term sustainability of RIs (management, sustainability policies, funding, impact and collaboration).
  3. Closing Innovation gap in Europe – Centers of Excellence and Centers of Competence as the answer towards increased capability and visibility (organization, sustainability policies, funding).
  4. New programme period. Building synergies between ESIF and Horizon Europe.
  5. Transnational access to RIs and common challenging in the ERA of Big data, open data and open Innovation.

The “future strategic research infrastructure” was one of the mains topics discussed during the first and second panel. Panellists mentioned very strong research infrastructures landscape in Europe (after 15 years of work of ESFRI). Nevertheless, not only the research and science excellence are essential for sustainable research infrastructures (already existing) but the interdisciplinary work and clustering has to be really emphasized. As the governments are coming to their limits of ability to finance new infrastructures, the already existing infrastructures performing well and towards new challenges needs to be supported.

ESFRI Chair Jan Hrušák from J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences acted as member of panel 4 and moderator of panel 5 focused mainly on New programme period and transnational access to RIs and common challenging in the ERA of Big data, open data and open innovation.

The open science concept, open data, FAIR data and everything what is related to it, will be more and more influencing us in the future. Data eventually become a new commodity. It will affect people in all the things we are doing, it will affect our culture, the way we are doing research, the way we think about research outcomes” addressed Jan Hrušák one of the biggest challenges of current science and invited participant for a discussion with the stakeholders in the last panel of the conference.

Within the two-day event the Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria presented the updated National Roadmap for Research Infrastructure and the progress of the Centers of Excellence that were launched in 2018. Examples of success stories representing EU member states’ National Roadmaps for Research Infrastructure were showcased at a thematic exhibition during the conference.

All presentations, photos and video record of the conference can be found on the conference website

Author: Olga Bohuslavová, Ph.D., 20. 12. 2019