This section aims to provide you a brief summary of what the term "Research Infrastructure" (RI) means.
What are Research Infrastructures?
According to the European Commission, Research infrastructures (RIs) are facilities, resources and services used by the science community to conduct research and foster innovation. RIs can be single-sited (a single resource at a single location), distributed (a network of distributed resources), or virtual (the service is provided electronically).
All RIs participating in CORBEL originated from the ESFRI Roadmap, a landscape document from the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures. ESFRI defines a RI as follows:
- A European distributed research infrastructure (…) is a RI with a common legal form and a single management board responsible for the whole RI (…), and one access point for users although its research facilities have multiple sites.
- It must be of pan-European interest, i.e. shall provide unique laboratories or facilities with user services for the efficient execution of top-level European research, ensuring open access to all interested researchers based on scientific excellence thus creating a substantial added value with respect to national facilities.
- A European distributed research infrastructure must bring significant improvement in the relevant scientific and technological fields, addressing a clear integration and convergence of the scientific and technical standards offered to the European users in its specific field of science and technology.
What does that mean in practice?
Simply spoken, RIs consist of facilities from different European countries that joined to form a RI. In order to be fully operable, a legal status is obtained (mainly the ERIC, but other forms like Ltd., GmbH or AISBL are also possible). Countries that are (financially) participating in a RI are referred to as Members or Member States; countries that are involved but not yet Members are called Observers.
Each RI consists of a hub and national nodes. The hub is the coordinating unit of the RI where the core management team is based. Each country being part of the RI has one or more national node(s), i.e. a facility like a research institute. These nodes are the service providers as the offered technologies and expertise are based there.
RIs offer access to their facilities, technologies and expertise to researchers from academia and industry. These services can simply be consultation, access to experts, but also access to data or biological/chemical samples, use of data analysis tools, access to facilities (e.g. highly specialised microscopes) plus support from technicians and much more.
Service offer, mode of access as well as costs is RI-specific and has to be negotiated for each research project.
How do I collaborate/work with a RI?
To begin with, you have to identify the RI(s) you want to utilise. An overview of the fields of work of the 13 RIs participating in CORBEL can be found here. A more detailed overview of service offers is provided in the Catalogue of Services.
Once you chose the RI(s) you want to work with, please contact the responsible person (contact data are provided in the Catalogue of Services). The RI contact person will provide you more detailed information about how to apply for a service, what kind of access modes are available, what costs you have to expect and whether there is the option to apply for funding.
Please note: Most of the RIs are constantly developing their portfolio of services, so if you do not find the service/tool you are looking for, do not hesitate to contact the RI and ask for it!