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 structuring 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.
Activities funded under this Part foster the innovation potential of research infrastructures, for example by reinforcing partnerships with industry, transfer of knowledge and other dissemination activities, use of research infrastructures by industrial researchers, and involvement of industrial associations in consortia or in advisory bodies.
Research Infrastructure activities also contribute to widening participation to the programme by supporting the development of Regional Partner Facilities in ESFRI projects and integrating activities. 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 .