Integrating Activities for Advanced Communities
European researchers need effective and convenient access to the best research infrastructures in order to conduct research for the advancement of knowledge and technology. The aim of this action is to bring together, integrate on European scale, and open up key national and regional research infrastructures to all European researchers, from both academia and industry, ensuring their optimal use and joint development.
'Advanced Communities' are scientific communities whose research infrastructures show an advanced degree of coordination and networking at present, attained, in particular, through Integrating Activities awarded under FP7 or previous Horizon 2020 calls.
An Integrating Activity will mobilise a comprehensive consortium of several key research infrastructures[[Exceptionally, the consortium may include only one research infrastructure providing access, if this facility is of a truly unique nature.]] in a given field as well as other stakeholders (e.g. public authorities, technological partners, research institutions) from different Member States, Associated Countries and other third countries[[Legal entities established in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, Mexico and USA, which provide, under the grant, access to their research infrastructures to researchers from Members States and Associated countries, are eligible for funding from the Union.]] when appropriate, in particular when they offer complementary or more advanced services than those available in Europe.
Funding will be provided to support, in particular, the trans-national and virtual access provided to European researchers (and to researchers from Third Countries under certain conditions), the cooperation between research infrastructures, scientific communities, industry and other stakeholders, the improvement of the services the infrastructures provide, the harmonisation, optimisation and improvement of access procedures and interfaces.
To this extent, an Integrating Activity shall combine, in a closely co-ordinated manner:
(i) Networking activities, to foster a culture of co-operation between research infrastructures, scientific communities, industries and other stakeholders as appropriate, and to help develop a more efficient and attractive European Research Area;
(ii) Trans-national access or virtual access activities, to support scientific communities in their access to the identified key research infrastructures;
(iii) Joint research activities, to improve, in quality and/or quantity, the integrated services provided at European level by the infrastructures.
All three categories of activities are mandatory as synergistic effects are expected from these different components.
Access should be provided only to key research infrastructures of European interest, i.e., those infrastructures able to attract significant numbers of users from countries other than the country where they are located. Other national and regional infrastructures in Europe can be involved, in particular in the networking activities, for the exchange of best practices, without necessarily being beneficiaries in the proposal.
Proposals from advanced communities will have to clearly demonstrate the added value and the progress beyond current achievements in terms of integration and services, of a new grant. The strongest impact for advanced communities is expected typically to arise from focusing on innovation aspects and widening trans-national and virtual access provision. Furthermore, in particular for communities supported in the past under three or more integrating activities, the creation of strategic roadmaps for future research infrastructure developments as well as the long-term sustainability of the integrated research infrastructure services provided at European level, need to be properly addressed. The latter requires the preparation of a sustainability plan beyond the grant lifecycle as well as, where appropriate, the involvement of funders.
In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), Integrating Activities should, whenever appropriate, pay due attention to any related international initiative (i.e. outside the EU) and foster the use and deployment of global standards.
Integrating Activities should also organise the efficient curation, preservation and provision of access to the data collected or produced under the project, defining a data management plan, even when they opt out of the Pilot on Open Research Data. Data management (including ethics and privacy issues), interoperability, as well as advanced data and computing services should be addressed where relevant. To this extent, proposals should build upon the state of the art in ICT and e-infrastructures for data, computing and networking, working in cooperation with e-infrastructure service providers.
Integrating Activities should in particular contribute to fostering the potential for innovation, including social innovation, of research infrastructures by reinforcing the partnership with industry, through e.g. transfer of knowledge and other dissemination activities, activities to promote the use of research infrastructures by industrial researchers, involvement of industrial associations in consortia or in advisory bodies.
Integrating Activities are expected to duly take into account all relevant ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures to exploit synergies, to reflect on sustainability and to ensure that rationally designed, comprehensive and coherent overall concepts for European Infrastructures are being pursued.
As the scope of an integrating activity is to ensure coordination and integration between all the key European infrastructures in a given field and to avoid duplication of effort, at most one proposal per area is expected to be submitted.
Further conditions and requirements that applicants should fulfil when drafting a proposal are given in part C of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”. Compliance with these provisions will be taken into account during evaluation.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow this topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
On the basis of a multiannual plan drafted taking into account the assessment and the timing of previous grants as well as strategic priorities and needs, in term of research infrastructures services, emerging from other parts of Horizon 2020, this work programme invites proposals addressing the following areas listed under the different domains. A balanced coverage of the various domains, in line with the distribution of areas per domain, is expected as outcome of this topic.
Biological and Medical Sciences
Environmental and Earth Sciences
Mathematics and ICT
Material Sciences and Analytical facilities
Social Sciences and Humanities
Access to European Social Science Data Archives and Official Statistics. A project under this topic should aim at a further improvement of the researcher's access to official statistics. Work should address technologies for secured trans-national access to sensitive data. Synergies with relevant ESFRI Infrastructures, in particular CESSDA, should be duly exploited.
Research infrastructures for the study of poverty, working life and living conditions. The aim of this activity is to bring together research infrastructures serving European and international research in the fields of poverty, working life, and living conditions. It will compile historical data, and provide instruments for the analysis of the effects of employers’ behaviour and the evaluation of labour market and social policies targeted to vulnerable groups as well as offer training to researchers interested in the use of these instruments.
- Researchers will have wider, simplified, and more efficient access to the best research infrastructures they require to conduct their research, irrespective of location. They benefit from an increased focus on user needs.
- Operators of related infrastructures develop synergies and complementary capabilities, leading to improved and harmonised services. There is less duplication of services, leading to an improved use of resources across Europe. Economies of scale and saving of resources are also realised due to common development and the optimisation of operations.
- Innovation is fostered through a reinforced partnership of research organisations with industry.
- A new generation of researchers is educated that is ready to optimally exploit all the essential tools for their research.
- Closer interactions between larger number of researchers active in and around a number of infrastructures facilitate cross-disciplinary fertilisations and a wider sharing of information, knowledge and technologies across fields and between academia and industry.
- For communities which have received three or more grants in the past, the sustainability of the integrated research infrastructure services they provide at European level is improved.
- The integration of major scientific equipment or sets of instruments and of knowledge-based resources (collections, archives, structured scientific information, data infrastructures, etc.) leads to a better management of the continuous flow of data collected or produced by these facilities and resources.
- When applicable, the integrated and harmonised access to resources at European level can facilitate the use beyond research and contribute to evidence-based policy making.
- When applicable, the socio-economic impact of past investments in research infrastructures from the European Structural and Investment Funds is enhanced.