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‘Big Science’ Web portal opens, to make the case for investment

According to an article published on Science|Business, the organisations behind the synchrotrons, databases and other shared research infrastructure in Europe have launched a joint Web portal as part of an effort to raise their profiles and justify their budgets at a time of tight funding.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The site,, lists data and links to 120 different facilities across Europe, ranging from the Aalto Neuroimaging Lab for brain research in Helsinki, to the Yebes Astronomical Observatory near Madrid. The portal, funded by the European Commission, is a comprehensive attempt to catalogue all types of research infrastructure or, in Brussels speak, “RI”, across the EU. These are publicly funded centres for lab equipment, academic computer networks, scientific databases or “big science” machines that are openly available for researchers to use.

The struggle to fund these multi-million euro projects has been a long-running story in Brussels – and will intensify next year with the launch of the new, seven-year Horizon 2020 EU research and innovation programme. For instance, an EU advisory body, the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI), keeps a running list of proposed research infrastructures in search of funding – and as of last year they numbered 43 projects.

“The role of research infrastructure is poorly understood” outside their immediate scientific communities, said Peter Fletcher, head of the international office of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), speaking at a conference in Brussels 6 November organised by the European Science Foundation. Their value isn’t in their science alone, he said. “You have to talk about the ecosystem” around them – the jobs, companies, and universities they interact with locally, as well as the broader scientific community that uses them internationally.

Read more on Science|Business

Original source: Science|Business

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EuropeLogo eInfastructure This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 313203
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