New leading-edge research infrastructures in all fields of science and technology are needed by the European scientific community in order to remain at the forefront of the advancement of research, and to be able to help industry strengthen its base of knowledge and its technological know-how. The aim of this activity is to support the conceptual and technical design for new research infrastructures which are of a clear European dimension and interest. Major upgrades of existing infrastructures may also be considered if the end result is intended to be equivalent to a new infrastructure.
Design studies should tackle all the key questions concerning the technical and conceptual feasibility of new or upgraded fully fledged user facilities (proposals considering just a component for research infrastructures are not targeted by this topic). A design study proposal should demonstrate the relevance and the advancement with respect to the state-of-art of the proposed infrastructure. It should indicate the gaps in the research infrastructure landscape the new facility will cover as well as the research challenges it will make possible to address. All fields of research are considered.
The main output of a design study will be the 'conceptual design report' for a new or upgraded research infrastructure, showing the maturity of the concept and forming the basis for identifying and constructing the next generation of Europe's and the world's leading research infrastructures. Conceptual design reports will present major choices for design alternatives and associated cost ranges, both in terms of their strategic relevance for meeting today's and tomorrow's societal challenges, and (where applicable) in terms of the technical work underpinning the development of new or upgraded research infrastructures of strategic importance for Europe.
The activities to be performed in a Design Study proposal should include both:
- Scientific and technical work, i.e. (1) the drafting of concepts, architecture and engineering plans for the construction, taking into due account resource efficiency and environmental (including climate-related) impacts, as well as, when relevant, the creation of prototypes; (2) scientific and technical work to ensure that the scientific user communities exploit the new facility from the start with the highest efficiency; (3) plans to organise the efficient curation, preservation and provision of access to data collected or produced by the future infrastructure, in line with the FAIR principles.
- Conceptual work, i.e. (1) plans to coherently integrate the new infrastructure into the European landscape of related facilities in accordance, whenever appropriate, with the EU objective of a balanced territorial development; (2) the estimated budget for construction and operation, and initial ideas on how to achieve long-term sustainability; (3) plans for an international governance structure; (4) the planning of research services to be provided at international level, (5) procedure and criteria to choose the site of the infrastructure.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Conceptual and technical designs of new leading edge research infrastructures are crucial to keep the European scientific community at the forefront of the advancement of research and to trigger the process leading to their establishment.
- Funding bodies for research infrastructures become aware of the strategic and funding needs of the scientific community.
- Policy bodies at the national level (e.g. funding bodies, governments), at European level (e.g. ESFRI) and internationally (e.g. the Group of Senior Officials on Research Infrastructures – GSO) have a sound decision basis to establish long-range plans for new research infrastructures of pan-European or global interest.
- The technical work carried out under this topic will contribute to strengthening the technological development capacity and effectiveness as well as the scientific performance, efficiency and attractiveness of the European Research Area.
- When relevant, the improvement of the environmental (including climate-related) impact as well as the optimisation of resource and energy use are integrated in the very early phase of development of new research infrastructures.
Socio-economic science and humanities