Part 2
Landscape analysis

Pan-European Dimension

Pan-European relevance is the rationale of ESFRI RIs in terms of the resources involved – competences, financial, human resources, services – and of the EU-wide research users’ community needing such unique facility. The entire ESFRI assessment, coaching and monitoring activity has as a reference the criteria for effective pan-European relevance. The e-Infrastructure aspects are assessed against indicators adopted in cooperation with e-IRGEvaluation of e-Infrastructures and the development of related Key Performance Indicators, ISBN 978-90-823661-4-3].

H&F RIs and their services are crucial to offer solutions to the provision of sustainable food options for Europe and the world in the context of a changing climate and limited land availability. Extreme climatic events observed in several European countries have led to a marked decrease in the growth trends of major crop yields – such as wheat – over the past two decades, thus also affecting health, welfare and quality of life of Europeans. The well integrated and synergetic H&F RIs landscape is key to understand the best strategy towards sustainable and safe food development, i.e. producing goods and services while minimising the consumption and waste of raw materials, water and energy sources. The ESFRI Projects AnaEE, EMPHASIS and METROFOOD-RI are important RIs in the context of these challenges. H&F RIs are  also very relevant to state-of-the-art healthcare in Europe for the implementation of personalised medicine and for tackling global infectious diseases. The implementation of personalised medicine requires Big Data and data sharing. Omics data – the ESFRI Landmark ELIXIR; biobanking – the ESFRI Landmark BBMRI ERIC; translational medicine – the ESFRI Landmark EATRIS ERIC; and clinical trial platforms – the ESFRI Landmark ECRIN ERIC – are key RIs to achieve this. It is also necessary to foster collaborations with the International Consortium on Personalized Medicine (IC PerMed) and ERAPerMed, and with the European ecosystem of supercomputing facilities. The multi-disciplinary HPC-BD infrastructure for Personalized Medicine data analysis and clinical diagnosis in Europe, a part of IPCEI HPC initiative, is an example. Research and clinical infrastructures in the hadron oncologic therapies, like the CNAO and HIT facilities are coordinated by the ENLIGHT network, and new initiatives are emerging in the Balkans. The ageing population in Europe has led to a rising demand for advanced healthcare, especially in the context of the current shift towards complex multi-morbidity patterns and chronic illnesses, monitoring by longitudinal studies – the ESFRI Landmark SHARE ERIC – is very important. The Human Brain Project FET Flagship is also relevant in this context. Climate change is projected to greatly affect public health in Europe, particularly in the elderly and chronic disease patients, as well as by shifting the pattern of spread of some mosquito borne diseases – e.g. Zika virus vector has reached central European countries such as Switzerland. Again similar collaborations, including the ESFRI Landmark ERINHA with GloPID-R (International Consortium for Global Infectious Diseases Preparedness) are important. The developing RI landscape offers a unique opportunity to exploit inter- and cross- disciplinary research models and the latest technological advances to foster the development of safe and effective approaches for the screening, prevention, early diagnosis and therapies and therapy monitoring, thus bridging scientific research with tangible benefits for the European society.

Within Europe the ENV RIs already operate and collaborate across borders for a long time being the RIs thematic areas of global interest by nature. So the collaboration at global scale is already in their DNA. This makes also easier for European initiatives to extend their collaborations outside Europe. Moreover, the pan-European dimension of ENV RIs is necessary to ensure peer and balanced collaborations both with other developed and emerging world areas. ESFRI helped consolidating integration of ENV RIs with the further effect of advancing technological developments to provide users services, making possible to bring ENV RI’s to the next level of service provision. The ENV RIs were able to learn from their own problems/ issues/efforts, and they have today a leading position for global collaborations. Better awareness of the EU RIs outside EU can attract more scientific talent. 

All ENE RIs aim at providing solutions for the transformation of the energy system as one of the major scientific, economic and societal challenges of Europe. To this purpose, they either gather a number of distributed RIs and expertise in different EU countries in order to combine and accelerate efforts in form of platform-building decentralized RIs – the ESFRI Landmark ECCSEL ERIC, and the ESFRI Projects EU-SOLARIS and Windscanner– or they provide technology-related R&I services to the European and worldwide community– e.g. the ESFRI Project MYRRHA and the ESFRI Landmark JHR.

PSE RIs are pan-European with relevance expanding to the global scale as emphasized by the Membership and Usage indicators. Astronomy and astroparticle physics are well organised at European level, with world-leading ESFRI RIs, and other major facilities of global interest such as the EGO/VIRGO gravitational telescope part of the LIGO-VIRGO GW-Detector global network. The strategic vision of ASTRONET and APPEC provides a pan-European and international vision and strategy for the field. Transnational Access programmes in EC-funded networks such as OPTICON and RADIONET give a pan-European dimension to national and multilateral facilities. The open access to astronomical data allows researchers from all European countries to access and use the best data-sets and data-analysis tools, contributing powerfully to a better integration in the European Research Area. 

About 30.000 scientists in Europe perform their research using some 15 synchrotron radiation facilities and Free Electron Lasers either at national facilities or at ESFRI RIs, and about 5.000 scientists in Europe are users of neutron beams at the 10 European sources (see the Neutron Landscape) that are presently operational. An overall number as high as 10.000 researchers needing neutron spectroscopy, mainly from academia, have been estimated by the network of European neutron facilities, SINE2020. The ESFRI Landmark European Spallation Source ERIC has adopted the ERIC framework and explores options for international collaborations at global scale. Supporting user programmes and excellence- based access, especially for researchers from countries without neutron sources, is a very critical point at the present level of development of the neutron landscape and a necessary investment to manage properly the evolving neutron scenarioNeutron scattering facilities in Europe: Present status and future perspectives, ESFRI Scripta Vol.1, September 2016 .

Estimates arising from ESTEEM, ESTEEM 2 projects, the ESFRI Landmark INSTRUCT  ERIC and the European Microscopy Society indicate a user base of more than 5.000 scientists skilled in TEM and a broader base of scientists who will benefit from access at advanced TEM RIs indicating the need of further investment, integration- standardisation and inter-operability in this field.

In the case of the SCI RIs the complete European coverage is a key strategy goal for the efficient construction of instruments and services enabling research on cultural, linguistic, social, political and economic life in Europe in its variety and complexity. The large membership of SCI RIs proves their importance for research community as well as confidence of decision makers in the efficiency of established services, but the remaining gaps in European coverage limit their pan-European impact. Some areas of Europe, e.g. eastern and southern parts, are less represented in ESFRI SCI RIs than others. This may have negative implications: the creation of biases in understanding of Europe, the undermining of European comparative research, less comprehensive standards, reduced possibilities because of missing languages and language families, persistent inequality in scientific research among European countries.  

The aim of all ESFRI RIs is the transformation of their data intensive feature to address one of the major scientific and societal challenges of Europe – digitalization of science and industry to introduce the open science and open access paradigm. To achieve the goal, RIs collect expertise in different EU countries in order to combine and accelerate the efforts.