Research infrastructures are facilities, resources and services that are used by the research communities to conduct research and foster innovation in their fields. Where relevant, they may be used beyond research, e.g. for education or public services. They include: major scientific equipment (or sets of instruments); knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives or scientific data; e-infrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks; and any other infrastructure of a unique nature essential to achieve excellence in research and innovation. Such infrastructures may be 'single-sited', ‘virtual’ or 'distributed'. 

Research infrastructures play an increasing role in the advancement of knowledge and technology and their exploitation. By offering high quality research services to users from different countries, by attracting young people to science and by networking facilities, research infrastructures help to structure the scientific community and play a key role in the construction of an efficient research and innovation environment. Because of their ability to assemble a ‘critical mass’ of people, knowledge and investment, they contribute to national, regional and European economic development. Research infrastructures are also key in helping Europe to lead a global movement towards open, interconnected, data-driven and computer-intensive science and engineering. e-Infrastructures will make every European researcher digital, increasing creativity and efficiency of research and bridging the divide between developed and less developed regions. 

The EU framework programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, gives high importance to promoting world-class research infrastructures, in a fair, transparent and open way facilitating researcher's access to the infrastructures they need, to further developing and deploying e-infrastructures, and fostering the innovation potential of research infrastructures with a focus on instrumentation and on reinforcing international cooperation with strategic third country partners. Research infrastructures provide research opportunities and services to researchers in many areas also addressed by other Parts of Horizon 2020 within "Societal Challenges", "Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies" (LEIT), and “Excellent Science”. This is also reflected in the close links between several of the topics in Research Infrastructures and certain Focus Areas. In this way, Research Infrastructures also contributes to other cross-cutting objectives of Horizon 2020, such as climate action and sustainable development, biodiversity, and social sciences and humanities. Furthermore, production-level e-infrastructures are able to serve the computing and data needs of any project in the framework programme fostering economies of scale in the use of ICT systems by projects supported by Horizon 2020. 

The Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2016-2017 contributes to the political priorities of the new Commission’s Agenda, in particular to maximise its support in strengthening Europe’s global competitiveness, the creation of new and sustainable jobs and the promotion of growth.

The Research Infrastructures Work Programme 2016-2017 will put wide emphasis on fostering the long-term sustainability of research infrastructures (including through the optimisation of assessment and evaluation procedures), on expanding the role and impact of research infrastructures in the innovation chain and on maximising the exploitation of data produced and/or collected by research infrastructures. 

Research Infrastructure activities also contribute to widening participation in the programme by supporting the development of Regional Partner Facilities. The use of European Structural and Investment Funds to build capacities and infrastructures at national and regional level in line with the relevant smart specialisation strategy is encouraged (further information can be found in section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”).

Total Budget: 2.2 Billion Euro

Copyright European Commission, 2016-2017 RI WP, 13 October 2015