Universities' perspective on science & technology infrastructures prominent at high-level Brussels conference

On 7 February, our Vice President Jennifer Herek gave an invited contribution underlining the importance of science & technology infrastructures at the ScienceBusiness annual conference
21st February 2023
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At the ScienceBusiness annual conference on 7 February in Brussels, our association was represented by Jennifer Herek, Vice President of CESAER and Co-Chair of our Task Force on Openness of Science & Technology. Jennifer participated in a panel session alongside Christian Ehler, a member of the European Parliament who is prominent in leading the Parliament’s work on EU research and innovation; as well as representatives of the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation and the ATTRACT project (which is developing next generation detection & imaging technologies). The topic of the panel session was the role of science & technology infrastructures in improving innovation outcomes.

The overall theme of the conference was “Sustainable Horizons: Does our future depend on science?” and, in this context, the role of science & technology (S&T) infrastructures was underlined as part of integrated policymaking that is equipped to tackle the all-embracing nature of the climate transition.

As we argued in a recent position paper, this should move beyond discussions on categories of such infrastructures and assess what they can and should do, and as Jennifer underlined during the session, here we would like to see a more inclusive definition of “science & technology infrastructures”. This will help embrace a more mission-driven understanding of these vital facilities, and will help ensure that a broad range of user communities is on board from the start in designing, developing and implementing them.

Characterising such infrastructures as “the heart and soul of the research, education and innovation capacity that universities provide to other stakeholders in the wider research and innovation ecosystem”, Jennifer pointed to several successful examples at our member universities across different disciplines. She also underlined the importance of comprehensive funding for S&T infrastructures (covering the integral costs for access to infrastructures and services related to Research Data Management, with Horizon Europe support evidently vital); and here it will be important for the next generation of EU funding instruments to be designed in a way that allows for synergies in the financing of S&T infrastructures throughout their entire lifecycle.

In addition Jennifer pointed out that, in the context of S&T infrastructures, clear guidelines and tools are also crucial, for example helping to understand the affiliation of partners and possible third parties (military, government, academia) and the reasons why they cooperate. This should ensure that it is possible to identify and ensure protection of key European physical & digital knowledge infrastructures, especially on research facilities and data.

The agenda and video recording of the event can be seen here, as well as speaker biographies here.

For more information, please contact our Advisor for Research Edward Ricketts.

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