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Brussels, le 9 décembre 2008

Ten major new EU research infrastructures welcomed by European Commission

Infectious diseases, carbon dioxide management, natural disasters warning, space observation: there are among the top priorities areas where 10 new Pan-European Research Infrastructures will be set up. The European Commission is supporting this commitment as a key step in building the European Research Area and addressing the most important needs of society. This new wave of Research Infrastructures was unveiled today at the European Conference on Research Infrastructures 2008, jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), in Versailles. The roadmap will include ambitious projects such as high security labs for research on fatal human pathogens, cutting edge installations to test technologies for carbon dioxide capture and storage, state-of-the-art radars to study the Earth’s atmosphere, infrastructures to better understand the physical processes controlling earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis and new generation telescopes for high-energy gamma-ray astronomy.

Commenting on this update, Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Science and research said "Developing world class infrastructures is an essential part of building the European Research Area, and must be one of the priorities of the EU and national recovery plans. To get these infrastructures operational quickly, I hope that Member States will also avoid any further delays in adopting the proposal for a European legal framework for European research infrastructures (ERI). This legal status, tailor-made for international cooperation on major projects, will reduce the administrative burdens and time-wasting involved in negotiating VAT status, excise rules and public procurement on a case-by-case basis. We have no time to lose in developing "smart" investments in research."

The 10 new infrastructures have been identified by ESFRI, composed of representatives of Member States. This followed an intensive consultation process, involving more than 200 experts. They constitute an update of the ESFRI Roadmap describing the needs for pan-European Research Infrastructures for the next 10-20 years presented in 2006. 35 key European projects across many fields of science and technology had been identified.

Today's update brings the number of identified priority projects to 44 Research Infrastructures in all fields of Science. In total 34 of the 35 projects on the Roadmap 2006 were endorsed and 10 new infrastructures are proposed. Among these ten new projects retained are (see Annex):

  • 3 projects in the field of Environmental Sciences
  • 4 projects in Biological and Medical Sciences
  • 1 project non-nuclear Energy
  • 1 Project in Materials and Analytical Facilities
  • 1 project in Physical Sciences and Engineering

The thirty-four (34) projects from the initial roadmap are today supported in their preparatory phases through the European Commission Framework Programmes for Research and Development (FP). Each preparatory phase benefits from 4 M€ of FP contribution on average, to provide a catalytic and leveraging support leading to the construction of the new research infrastructures or major upgrades of the existing ones. To support these new developments the Commission plans to open a FP7 call for proposals, at the end of 2009.

A key role for the European Union

The EU actions aim to optimise the use and development of the best existing research infrastructures in Europe. The EU budget for research infrastructures has increased from 730 M€ in 6th FP to more than 1,700 M€ in 7th FP for triggering such a joint development and operation in all fields of science and technology.

For existing infrastructures, the EU FPs currently support the integration of more than 60 categories of existing research installations, from synchrotrons to genomics databases, from high-performance computers to environmental observatories. It directly helps the networking of more than 350 research infrastructures. It also directly supports each year several thousands of European researchers and scientists to travel to the facilities in order to carry out their experiments, and several hundreds of thousands of European users to retrieve essential data sets via internet.

For more information on EU Research infrastructures and the role of ESFRI see

See also IP/08/1142 on EU legal framework for European Research Infrastructures

The 10 new projects from the ESFRI Roadmap Update

Environmental Sciences (3 projects)

Upgrade of the European Incoherent Scatter radar system (EISCAT 3D upgrade) which provides state-of-the-art radar facilities to study various processes taking place in the Earth’s atmosphere. These studies can help understanding the formation and evolution of our own, and other, solar systems.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory phase: 2009-2011
Preparation costs: 6 M€
Construction phase: 2011-2015
Total construction costs: 250 M€ for all sites.
Operation: 2015-2045
Operation costs: 4-10 M€/year

Decommissioning costs: 10-15% of construction costs

European Plate Observing System (EPOS) will be a distributed infrastructure integrating the currently scattered facilities, into one distributed but coherent multidisciplinary infrastructure. It will promoting innovative approaches for a better understanding of the physical processes controlling earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, as well as those driving tectonics and Earth surface dynamics. EPOS will be connected to similar initiatives in satellite Earth observing systems and ocean sciences within GEOSS and GMES.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory phase 2008-2012
Preparation costs: 12 M€
Construction phase: 2012-2018
Total construction costs: 500 M€
Operation: 2018-2048 onwards
Operation costs: 80 M€/year

Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing Facility (SIAEOS) is the upgrade of the present infrastructure on Svalbard. It integrates the studies of geophysical, chemical and biological processes from all research and monitoring platforms - land, sea, ice/glacier and atmosphere/space based - thus responding to a highly relevant need to monitor global environmental change.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory phase 2008-2010
Preparation costs: 2-5 M€
Construction phase, 2010-2012
Total construction costs: 50 M€
Operations 2012 onwards
Operation costs: 9.5 M€/year

Biological and Medical Sciences (4 projects)

European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC). The existing main costal marine laboratories will be integrated within a new distributed research infrastructure to provide access to model marine organisms and their ecosystems, as well as to modern technology and genomic resources.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory phase Years 1-2
Preparation costs: 10M€.
Construction phase years 3-8
Total construction costs: 100 M€
Operation phase Year 5 onwards
Operation costs: 60M€/year

European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology (EU-OPENSCREEN) will allow researchers in academia and SMEs to access resources for the development of bioactive small molecules. A central facility will make available a large collection of diverse compounds representing the chemical knowledge of Europe. It will also be an association of high throughput screening centres. These will offer chemical resources for hit discovery and optimisation, bio- and chem-informatics support, and a publicly accessible database of protocols and results.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory phase: 2009-2011
Preparation costs: 4-5 M€
Construction phase: 2011-2012
Total construction costs: 40 M€
Operation phase: starting in 2012
Operation costs: 40 M€/year

European Biomedical Imaging Infrastructure – from molecule to patient (EuroBioImaging) will provide access to imaging technologies across the full scale of biological and medical applications, from molecule to patient. It will be organised as a pan-European distributed research infrastructure focused on complementary imaging technologies from advanced light microscopy to medical imaging.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory phase: 2009-2010
Preparation costs: 10 M€
Construction phase: 2010-2014
Total construction costs: 370 M€
Operation: 2012 onwards
Operation costs: 160 M€/year

European High Security BSL-4 laboratories will help to face any pandemic outcome from emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. This is a scientific challenge that implies coordinated survey and study of level 4 pathogens. This new research infrastructure is realised through a major upgrade of existing High Security Laboratories, building new ones, and developing a European coordination body.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory phase: 3 years
Preparation costs: 5M€
Construction phase: 60 months
Total construction costs: 174 M€

Operation costs: 24 M€/year

Energy (1 project)

European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure (ECCSEL). It combines three approaches to capture (pre and post combustion and O2/CO2 -oxyfuel- recycle combustion capture) and three approaches to carbon storage (aquifers, depleted oil/gas fields, coal bed methane). The project is based on the upgrading of existing national infrastructures to European level. The upgraded facility is composed of distributed parts in different countries and a coordination centre in Norway.
The facility will be in operation in 2011
Estimated costs:
Preparation costs: 3-4 M€
Total construction costs: 81 M€
Operation costs: 6 M€/year
Decommissioning costs: 2 M€

Materials and Analytical Facilities (1 Project)

European Magnetic Field Laboratory (EMFL) will be a dedicated magnet field laboratory providing the highest possible fields (both continuous and pulsed) to European researchers. It will be operated as a single distributed research infrastructure which integrates and upgrades the four already existing major European high magnetic field laboratories in Grenoble and Toulouse (France) as well as Dresden (Germany), and Nijmegen (The Netherlands).
The construction of the new EMFL facility is expected to start in 2011 after a 2 years preparatory phase, and to last for 5 years. The facility should remain in operation for at least 15 years.
Estimated costs:
Preparation costs: 10M€
Total construction costs: ~120 M€
Operation costs: 8 M€/year additional, or 22M€/year including existing budgets
Decommissioning costs: not applicable

Physical Sciences and Engineering (1 project)

Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will be an advanced facility for ground-based high-energy gamma-ray astronomy. With two sites, in both the southern and northern hemispheres, it will extend the study of astrophysical origin gamma-rays at energies of a few tens of GeV and above. It will enable the first complete and detailed view of the universe in this part of the radiation spectrum and will contribute towards a better understanding of astrophysical and cosmological processes.
Estimated costs:
Preparatory Phase: 2006-2011
Preparation costs:~8M€
Construction: 2012-2017
Total construction costs: ~150 M€
Operation 2018 (partial operation after 2013)
Operating costs: ~10M€/year
Expected lifetime is 20-30 years
Decommissioning costs: ~10M€

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