On 18th–19th October 2022, Brno hosted the 81st plenary meeting of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). The ESFRI meeting was held under the organisational auspices of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS), which is presiding the research configuration of the Council of the EU in the second semester of 2022, in a cooperation with the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research, a public organisation falling under MEYS and supporting the international cooperation of Czechia in the fields of science and education. The ESFRI meeting in Brno took place as a back-to-back event to the global ICRI conference, which, for the first time in its history, visited the Czech Republic and thus the so-called newer EU Member States.
ESFRI is a strategic and expert body participated by delegations from EU Member States, the European Commission and countries associated to the Horizon Europe EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Its purpose is to harmonise research infrastructure policies in the EU and to integrate the European research infrastructure ecosystem. Open access to cutting-edge research infrastructures is a prerequisite for closing the research gap and innovation divide in Europe, while also attracting the best researchers from all around the world to Europe.
The Brno Declaration on Fostering a Global Ecosystem of Research Infrastructures (pdf) was presented to the ESFRI delegates at the beginning of the meeting. Through this Brno Declaration, EU Member States and the European Commission call on research infrastructure stakeholders from other world’s macro-regions to foster the integration of the research infrastructure capacities at the global level. The Brno Declaration had been prepared by MEYS, negotiated through the preparatory bodies of the Council of the EU and supported across the entire EU, including the College of Commissioners.
ESFRI landscape analysis and ESFRI Landmarks’ monitoring
In the course of further ESFRI meeting agenda, delegates debated preparation of a landscape analysis of the European research infrastructure ecosystem, which high-level goal and objective are to identify opportunities for filling gaps in the European research infrastructure environment, thereby incentivise a deeper integration of European research infrastructure capacities and even call for brand new project proposals to respond to the identified scientific, as well as societal and economic challenges of Europe. In addition, an exchange of views on the topic of the ESFRI Landmarks’ monitoring was facilitated to assess the European research infrastructures from the ESFRI Roadmap, which concepts have already been or are being successfully implemented. The ESFRI delegates also addressed the digital dimension of European research infrastructures and the envisaged interaction of ESFRI with the EOSC (European Open Science Cloud) initiative. Last but not least, the current energy challenges were discussed during the ESFRI Forum Plenary.
Site-visits to research infrastructures in Brno
The meeting agenda of the ESFRI delegates was accompanied by a rich cultural programme, including site-visits to research infrastructures operated by the Masaryk University and the Central European Institute of Technology. A joint dinner of the ESFRI delegations was hosted at the premises of the Brno Observatory and Planetarium. The ESFRI Forum Plenary was organised in Brno as a part of a series of side-events to the main programme of the ICRI conference, held on 19th–21st October 2022.