In 2009, a new financial instrument has been introduced in the legislative environment for support of research, development and innovation from public funds of the Czech Republic – specific grant scheme aimed at financial support of the “large research infrastructures”. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS) has become the national public authority of the Czech Republic responsible for the large research infrastructures´ policy making and public funding. At the same time, the MEYS, being in charge of the international cooperation of the Czech Republic in research and development, supports also the internationalisation and international collaboration of large research infrastructures and their integration in international research infrastructures´ networks and legal entities, in particular the ERIC. In order to reflect the large research infrastructures as one of the key elements of the Czech national research and innovation system, the MEYS has also developed numerous measures aimed at providing the large research infrastructures of the Czech Republic with a suitable environment for construction, operations and further investment development.
What are the “large research infrastructures”?
Large research infrastructures are unique facilities of high knowledge and technology expertise, which are operated on the basis of open access policy for use by all their potential users, both from research organisations and innovative enterprises. Large research infrastructures enable the user communities to achieve cutting-edge results in fundamental and applied research and to develop state-of-the-art technologies with a high potential for application in innovative products and services of a high added value. The significance of large research infrastructures for the enhancement of excellent science and development of top-class technologies is emphasized in the Czech Republic, inter alia, by the fact that the proposals for public funding of large research infrastructures from the budgetary chapter of the MEYS are submitted for the approval of the Government of the Czech Republic as the only individual research, development and innovation projects in the Czech Republic.
Roadmap of Large Research Infrastructures of the Czech Republic
In 2010, the very 1st Roadmap of Large Research Infrastructures of the Czech Republic was issued as a strategy document of the Czech Republic, which – by its structure and contents – corresponds to the Roadmap of European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). The subsequent updates of the Roadmap of Large Research Infrastructures of the Czech Republic were published in 2011 and 2015. The latest edition of the Roadmap, issued in 2019, sets the large research infrastructures´ policy making and public funding strategy for the years 2016-2022. In the international context, the Roadmap represents the Czech Republic´s contribution to the landscape of research infrastructures operated in Europe and worldwide. The Roadmap consists of the genesis of large research infrastructures´ agenda development since 2009, description of the methodology framework of their international evaluation organised by the MEYS, overview of the involvement of individual facilities in international networks, their typology and characteristics, and the integration of individual facilities in the landscape of large research infrastructures of the Czech Republic.
Large Research Infrastructures Council
The coordination of stakeholders of the Czech Republic involved in the large research infrastructures´ agenda development takes place on the Large Research Infrastructures Council, an expert advisory body to the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports. The Council brings together officially nominated representatives of the MEYS; Research, Development and Innovation Council; Ministry of Industry and Trade; Czech Academy of Sciences; Czech Rectors Conference; Council of Higher Education Institutions and, last but not least, representatives of leading large research infrastructures of the Czech Republic. Among the members of the Council there have been also delegates of the Czech Republic to the ESFRI or representatives of the National Contact Point of the Czech Republic for the research infrastructures´ configuration of the EU Framework Programmes for Research, Development and Innovation. The Large Research Infrastructures Council was established by the MEYS in 2010. The “sectorial platforms” have been organized under the auspices of the Council in 2019 in order to involve also the representatives of Ministries responsible for major sectorial policies of the Czech Republic.
International assessment of large research infrastructures of the Czech Republic
Since 2014, the MEYS organises the periodic and comprehensive international assessments of large research infrastructures of the Czech Republic. Outputs of these evaluation procedures are provided by the MEYS to the Government of the Czech Republic as an independent expert basis for the adoption of informed political decisions on financing the large research infrastructures from public funds of the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the assessment outputs have served as an independent expert basis for periodic updates of the Roadmap of Large Research Infrastructures of the Czech Republic and decision making processes on the support of the proposals of European research infrastructures participated by the Czech Republic and applying for the ESFRI Roadmap. The assessment focuses, in particular, on the following evaluation criteria: knowledge and technology expertise; open access policy; use of the capacities; users´ R&D achievements; governance and management structure; progress since the last assessment cycle and strategy development; importance and contribution to the development of the relevant scientific field; cooperation within and outside the European Research Area; costs and budget; communication and marketing strategy; key performance indicators (KPIs).