Science & Policy Event: important role of European Research Infrastructures in the framework programmes for research and innovation

17 NOV 2020

LENS’ sister consortium LEAPS (League of European Accelerator-based Photon Sources) held a science and policy event on 28 October, on  “European Research Infrastructures: Engines for Science and Innovation. The key to tackle societal challenges”. The virtual meeting brought together members of Europe’s Research Infrastructures (RIs) community, European Commission and Parliament representatives and other participants from science, politics and industry. It showcased the key role of RIs in contributing to solve the most urgent global challenges, including energy storage and viral threats, through the example of LEAPS. Representatives from RIs outside of LEAPS, including LENS Chair Prof. Dr. Helmut Schober, also participated in the two-hour event that was attended by an audience of 120.

Helmut Schober, Chais of LENS
Screenshot from the virtual meeting: Prof. Helmut Schober, Chair of LENS and Director of the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), Grenoble

Brussels —During the meeting’s panel discussion, Schober said: “You prepare best for a crisis by investing right up front and trying to be always at the edge – not only scientifically, but also in terms of high-quality collaborations. Research Infrastructures are sophisticated tools and you have to have the right people to use them.” By this, he was referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, one current example where the role of RIs is essential, according to the speakers of the meeting.

He continued: “It’s often relatively small additional investments that can ensure a bright future. If you want to have a solidary Europe, and make sure that all parts of Europe participate in its growth and have an equal chance for a bright future, you have to make sure to transfer some financial burdens and make sure that access is given to any bright scientist who has a great idea somewhere in Europe.”

The virtual meeting was hosted by MEP and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) at the European Parliament, Dr. Lina Gálvez. It was originally planned to take place at the European Parliament in Brussels and had to be moved to an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another speaker was Dr. Anna Panagopoulou, Director of the Common Support Centre at the Research and Innovation DG of the European Commission. The directorate is responsible for the implementation strategy for European Union R&I programmes, processes, the IT service and the service for Horizon 2020 information and data. She stressed the central role of RIs for contributions to EU key objectives e.g. the Green Deal, or response to pandemics.

RIs are innovation hubs

On behalf of LEAPS, Dr. Caterina Biscari, Chair of LEAPS and Director of the ALBA Synchrotron in Barcelona, Spain, informed the audience on “EU RIs as engines for science and innovation. The key to tackle societal challenges”. The RIs are not only world leaders in technology, offering free access to all public researchers, based on competitive excellence, and offering advanced and cost-effective instruments to all of the industrial world, but also innovation hubs, and training centres for the next generation of scientists.

RI expert users from science and industry reported on examples from their work using RIs: Prof. Kristina Edström from Uppsala University, Sweden, on batteries and energy storage, Dr. Maximillian Ackermann from Mainz University, Germany, on viral and microbial threats.

Dr. Anna Sandström, Science Policy and Relations Director Europe with AstraZeneca, reported on industry relations with RIs which are important platforms for fruitful collaborations. She recommended that the RIs should do more to promote their programmes as they are not well known in industry.

All speakers and Dr. Helmut Schober and Prof. Yannis Ioannidis (ESFRI) participated in the final panel discussion and answered questions from the audience.

More information:

Complete programme and speakers’ slides

Video of the event

The League of European Accelerator-based Photon Sources (LEAPS)

LEAPS is a strategic consortium initiated by the Directors of the Synchrotron Radiation and Free Electron Laser user facilities in Europe. Its primary goal is to actively and constructively ensure and promote the quality and impact of the fundamental, applied and industrial research carried out at their respective facility to the greater benefit of European science and society. More information at

The League of advanced European Neutrons Sources (LENS)

LENS is a non-profit initiative of European neutron facilities with the aim to strengthen European science by developing together with the European user associations a coherent strategy to meet current and future demands of the scientific communities. LENS places emphasis on the relationship between user communities and funding organizations, the continuous improvement of LENS facilities, and optimizing resources and aligning policies among the partners – all to ensure excellence to the communities they serve.

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