Research Infrastructures in a Changing World: Summary

The “Research Infrastructures in a Changing Global, Environmental and Socio-economic Context” conference, organized under the Belgian Presidency of the European Council, took place on June 4th and 5th, 2024, at the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR) in Brussels. The event focused on three key issues: the role of Research Infrastructures (RIs) in strategic autonomy amidst global changes, the socio-economic and environmental impacts of RIs, and the broader ecosystems encompassing RIs.

14 Jun 2024

Photo: Wikimedia commons

In her opening remarks, Anna Panagopoulou Director of ERA & Innovation at the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation, highlighted the role of research infrastructures, which provide the most advanced knowledge, technologies and data resources, in addressing the SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 pandemic. Ensuring sufficient funding for science and research is thus becoming a crucial requirement for the future European Parliament. Panagopoulou also stressed the need for research infrastructures to be flexible and able to adapt to new policy priorities such as the digital transformation or the Green Deal.

A European ecosystem of research infrastructures
A list of Europe's top research infrastructures was presented by Gelsomina Pappalardo from the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) in the newly released ESFRI Landscape Analysis 2024. The analysis not only provides an overview of international research infrastructures in all research areas, but also identifies potential future demands for new infrastructures. The analysis highlights the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative and supports the development of new research infrastructure services.

The importance of open science for the future of research infrastructures
Prof. Edith Heard, Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), marked the institution’s 50th anniversary by highlighting its contributions to European science. She celebrated EMBL’s role as a longstanding hub of knowledge and innovation, advocating for the importance of open science. Heard emphasized that RIs like EMBL are pivotal in promoting international cooperation, which is essential for tackling global challenges through shared data and collective effort. Heard also addressed the transformative impact of artificial intelligence on research. She noted that AI, combined with large-scale computable data, talented researchers, and advanced computing infrastructure, is revolutionizing science. However, she cautioned about the need to balance openness with security in data sharing, an existential question for the scientific community.

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