LENS Chair participates in the New ERA Presidency Conference

On 27 October 2021, Professor Robert McGreevy participated in the New ERA Conference, as part of a session on the sustainable funding of European Research Infrastructures.

LENS Chair, Robert McGreevy, explains the importance of long-term planning and investment in maintaining the neutron scattering infrastructure used by scientists across Europe.

Launched in 2000, the European Research Area (ERA) describes the ambition to create a single, borderless market for research, innovation and technology across the EU. The ERA was established as to enable Member states to work more effectively together, aligning research policies and programmes so that researchers and knowledge can circulate freely.

Twenty years on, the European Commission set out plans to revitalise the ERA, launching ‘A new ERA for research and innovation’. The New ERA will build on Europe’s excellence in science and innovation to improve ‘coordination and cooperation among the EU, its Member States and the private sector; lead to more investments in research and innovation; strengthen mobility of researchers, their expertise, and the flow of knowledge.’

On 26 – 27 October,  The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia delivered an ERA Conference to make recommendations to enhance the implementation of the new ERA. The Conference New ERA – Towards a responsible knowledge driven society of the 3rd Millennium aimed to improve integration of the new ERA in ‘key stakeholder communities, industrial sectors and policy-makers’ by facilitating discussion and knowledge exchange’.

LENS Chair, Professor Robert McGreevy, participated in the conference as part of Breakout Session 1 ‘ERA for Research Infrastructures‘ on 27 October. This session, which recognised Research Infrastructures (RIs) and their users as important and intrinsic to the ERA, brought together various stakeholders to discuss funding to support the sustainability of research infrastructures.

A key topic of the breakout session was the need for sustainable funding of RIs. Whilst participants recognised the importance of new sources of European funding, such as structural funds, they also identified the need for longer-term funding sources that would ensure the continuity and competitiveness of European RIs. Another topic, of particular relevance to LENS and its members, was the role of European RIs (those with multinational owners and users) and national RIs of European interest (those with a single owner but multinational users) in the context of improving access and exploitation.

Whilst there are many challenges still to be addressed in the new ERA, discussions during the breakout session highlighted important synergies between the RIs, which will help to strengthen their position in the European research and innovation ecosystem.