Latest ESFRI Roadmap recognises LENS' role in strengthening European science and innovation

The ESFRI Roadmap for Research Infrastructures (RIs) in Europe has influenced European and national RIs strategies, policies and funding since the first edition was launched in 2006. The latest roadmap, published on 7 December 2021, recognises the important role of the LENS and LEAPS Initiatives in bringing together European analytical facilities to “identify synergies and opportunities for closer collaboration” and “improve the cooperation of various communities and enhance user facilities”.

The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) is a self-regulated body that has an influential role on the policies of Research Infrastructures1 in Europe. Launched in 2002, ESFRI “brings together national governments, the scientific community and the European Commission (EC) to support a coherent, strategy-led approach to Research Infrastructures (RIs) in Europe.”

Among ESFRI’s activities is the development of a Roadmap for RIs, which aims to deliver a coherent and strategic vision that ensures Europe’s excellence in science and innovation.2 The sixth edition of the ESFRI Roadmap, published on 7 December 2021, centres on the “importance of world-class RIs in enabling cutting-edge research needed to address the pressing requests and challenges of our society.” 3

The 2021 ESFRI Roadmap also acknowledges the important contributions of neutron science across the scientific domains including energy, physical sciences and engineering, as well as in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.4 Two European neutron facilities – the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and European Spallation Source (ESS) – are ESFRI Landmarks,5 which identifies these facilities as “major elements of competitiveness” in the European Research Area. Whilst Europe is currently the world-leader in neutron science, the roadmap recognises the major threat to the availability of neutrons in Europe due to recent closure of several facilities. To help meet the demand for neutrons, it will be vital to support existing neutron sources, as well as invest in the development new technologies, such as compact neutron sources.

Both LENS and LEAPS Initiatives are highlighted for their role in “bringing together a critical mass of European analytical facilities in their respective areas to identify synergies and opportunities for closer collaboration… as well as develop joint positions on issues of common interest”, and their impact within the wider Analytical Research Infrastructures in Europe (ARIE)7 network. The ARIE network represents a new model to address the Horizon Europe Missions, facilitating multi-disciplinary approaches that make use of the varied and complementary techniques of the seven member organisations.

  1. ESFRI RIs are facilities, resources or services of a unique nature identified by European research communities to conduct and to support top-level research activities in their fields. They include: major scientific equipment (or sets of instruments), knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives and scientific data, e-Infrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks and any other tools that are essential to achieve excellence in Research & Innovation (R&I).
  2. First published in 2006, with 35 projects, it was updated in 2008, 2010,2016 and 2018.
  5. RIs that are implemented and have reached an advanced implementation stage.