Plenary session 2: Governance of Research Infrastructures

Research infrastructures provide essential resources to address the complexity of current scientific challenges. As for the majority of scientific endeavours, research infrastructures are increasingly becoming international enterprises; the potential benefits are well known and include the possibility to implement projects that exceed the funding capacity of individual countries, to integrate ambitious projects in national and international research roadmaps, to bring together the best scientists and engineers, or to access data and resources that are distributed worldwide. However, such internationally characterised research infrastructure projects also face several potential complications, among which is the necessity to establish efficient governance mechanisms. The term “governance” encompasses the set of structures, rules and procedures based on which collaborations operate and through which decisions are made by the participating entities to the collaborations. 

One of the most important decisions regarding international research infrastructures is their legal/administrative structure, which may represent a real challenge due to the diversity of national legal systems. Thus, although progress in this area has been made in Europe (for instance with the introduction of the ERIC statutes), it remains a complex question for a broader global cooperation. Furthermore, in the case of international infrastructures, the participating entities have to reconcile the priority to pursue their national interests and to maintain control over how their contributions are utilised, with the need to give the infrastructure a degree of independence and self-governance that reflects international and scientific diversity. Ultimately, the partners must accept a certain loss of control in return for collective scientific benefits. 

This session includes a presentation from the Group of Senior Officials (GSO) for Global Research Infrastructures on the Framework for Global Research Infrastructures (GRIs), which is a set of recommendations for international cooperation that is based on previous experience with existing global research infrastructures. The discussion may address issues related to legal frameworks, National/Regional/Global Roadmaps, financial management and funding models (including solutions for funding sustainability), data and infrastructure access etc. 

This session builds on existing and upcoming research infrastructure experiences and on recent reports and analyses on these issues to identify good practices and possible new avenues and solutions for better governance processes.