ERF Workshop: Socio Economic Relevance of Research Infrastructures

From 31 May to 01 June took place in Hamburg the workshop “The Socio-Economic Relevance of Research infrastructures” of the ERF (European Association of National Research Infrastructures open to International Access).

The meeting hosted by DESY has been organised jointly by the host institution, Elettra, ELI, PSI, Soleil, and STFC. The ERF, chaired by Carlo Rizzuto, brings together currently thirteen national institutions from European countries, which manage large research infrastructures with open access for international researchers. The workshop in Hamburg has been the fourth in a series of meetings proposed by the ERF in order to exchange knowledge, practices and ideas and optimise the management of the laboratories. The preceding events have dealt with the topics of Open Access (Lund, 2009), Human Resources (PSI, Villingen 2010), and Sustainability and Energy (ESS, Lund 2011).

The large research infrastructures constitute an important pillar for science and innovation in Europe. The strong leadership in this field, developed also with a coordination at the European level and the “Open Access” policy, has permitted to European companies to respond successfully to the challenge of the globalisation. To maintain this primacy also in times of scarce financial resources, it is necessary to inform the policy makers and various stakeholders in the best way about these returns. The scope of the workshop has therefore been to assemble the experts of the interested groups, such as research infrastructures, policy-makers, scientists, and industry, and provide to them the possibility to discuss the diverse aspects of the socio-economic relevance of the research infrastructures. With 169 participants coming from twenty European and a few non-European countries, the workshop outnumbered all expectations. The speakers came from European laboratories and universities, Canadian Light Source, European Commission, OECD, and ESFRI and have given in total more than forty presentations in plenary and parallel sessions.

After the opening by Helmut Dosch for the host institution, Horst-Michael Pelikahn for the State of Hamburg and Carlo Rizzuto for the ERF the first plenary session focussed on the interests and expectations of various stakeholders with respect to the socio-economic impacts of research infrastructures. The four parallel sessions have treated the methodologies to measure the economic impacts with reference to a number of case studies; the impacts in the field of human resources, social capital, and ecological environment through studies presented by different research infrastructures; the dialogue between the laboratories and society; and finally the impact on innovation: from new technologies to spill-overs, from technology parks to industrial users and spin-offs. Ideas, strategies, and activities for the future have been proposed and subsumed in the second plenary  concluding sessions. Coffee breaks and workshop dinner have provided further occasions for discussions and deeper exchanges. As a concrete result, the ERF intends to set up a working group on socio-economic impacts, with the objective to develop methodologies, conduct studies, and promote practices and ideas for the management of research infrastructures.


on the left: family photo of participants
on the right: a moment of the workshop



Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2012 12:09