Building: VMP 5 Floor: 4 Room: 4047
Large-scale research infrastructures (Big Science) are necessary to advance science and tackle global challenges. But Big Science is inherently political, requiring massive funding, international political commitment, and interdisciplinary communication.
The European Union has established itself as a key actor in European innovation policy only in the past two decades, with the European Research Area (ERA) framework and the intensified programmes of Horizon 2020 and the European Research Council (ERC). Another important part of contemporary EU innovation policy is the attention to research infrastructures (RIs) and the identification that pan-European RIs function as a “pillar” of ERA and a “motor” of the European knowledge-based economy (as noted by the European Commission in 2008). This prominent role of RIs in EU policymaking is an under-researched area in science and innovation policy studies and in European studies, although there is much to suggest that the institutions and processes of policymaking act out in partly new ways in this area, with new dynamics of decisionmaking and new constellations of actors involved.
This panel is composed of five papers that report on a variety of studies of this topic. The history of European scientific collaboration is a history of incoherent policymaking and ad hoc solutions, but history also shows how major European countries have been able to come together and establish several world-leading RIs in spite of this lack of apt frameworks and procedures. The seeming ambitions behind the increased EU involvement are a need to coordinate and enhance strategic planning, but the mandate of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), founded in 2002, is still unclear, as is the role of its roadmap document and of the entirely new organizational form European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) launched in 2008. Both are policy mechanisms that have been introduced but not followed up in detailed studies: What does the process of RI roadmapping entail? What are the processes involved in obtaining of ERIC status? The topics deserve deeper study.
The papers in this panel deal, in turn, with: The history of collaborative Big Science in Europe, with special attention to the role of France and Germany in driving such collaborations forward in lieu of EU involvement; The historical creations of successful intergovernmental collaborations in European science, and the decisionmaking processes behind; the RI roadmapping processes of Switzerland (a non-EU country) and how it resembles the EU-level roadmapping of ESFRI; and the implementation of the ERIC legal framework in the case of a networked RI for materials science and last, but not least, with foresight as a potential instrument to enhance decision-making on RI's."
The panel marks a much-needed effort to put the spotlight on these and other related topics and begin a lively scholarly discussion about the concepts, actors, institutions and processes involved in policymaking around RIs in Europe, so that these can be studied in a stringent and useful fashion, in interdisciplinary but focused research projects.