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About open access to JRC research infrastructures for training and capacity building

1. Context

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has made significant investments in the construction and operationalisation of unique research infrastructures in several science and technology domains. Many of these facilities are instrumental in accomplishing JRC’s mission. They also allow JRC staff to maintain and develop their scientific competence, promote cooperation with European and international partners, and offer training and education.

The JRC maintains 38 physical research infrastructures suitable for opening access to external users in the nuclear and radiological (Euratom Laboratories) fields, chemistry, biosciences/life sciences, physical sciences and ICT. They are located at our sites in Ispra (Italy), Geel (Belgium), Karlsruhe (Germany) and Petten (The Netherlands). These infrastructures (i.e. laboratories) are fit for experimental work generating data for users’ analyses.

The JRC has offered access to research facilities within various forms of collaboration and actions, including indirect actions funded by the Commission’s Directorate-General Research and Innovation in its Framework Programmes for research. These activities have demonstrated that there is potential demand by third parties to access JRC research infrastructures and the need to ensure a fair and transparent method for allocating access.

The JRC Strategy 2030 foresees opening up our research infrastructure to external use, granted on the basis of open calls with different modes of access to ensure transparency and fairness, and to address different research and industrial requirements.

The JRC strategy 2030 also contemplates education and training activities to enhance the visibility and prestige of the JRC, targeted to meet user needs and draw on the strengths of the JRC.

2. Objectives

  • Establish a fair, clear and transparent procedure for giving access of external users to JRC physical research infrastructures.
  • Maximise the use to the full potential of JRC physical research infrastructures in collaboration with researchers and industry from candidate countries and countries associated to the EU Research Programme Horizon 2020.

3. Benefits to users

Benefits of opening up JRC research infrastructures are multi-fold; granting access fulfils scientific needs and provides benefit to the research of external users accessing our facilities. These can be summarised as follows:

  • Access to JRC research infrastructures based on open calls for competitive access will allow European users not traditionally engaged with the JRC to have access through a transparent procedure.
  • Access of users to JRC research infrastructures provides training and capacity building, in particular to users from institutions with facilities complementary or similar to those of the JRC, or with facilities being planned for upgrading or under construction.
  • If fosters collaboration at European level and opens the possibilities for networking and future collaborations with the JRC.
  • Granting access within a structured framework will maximise the return on tax-payer funded investment that the JRC has made on its research infrastructures, making them available to external users in view of the limited resources now existing in Europe.

4. Enlargement and Integration Action

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is playing an important role for the European Union enlargement and integration process by providing scientific and technical support to countries on the road towards EU membership, New Member States and Associated Countries to the Research Framework Programmes.

JRC' mission is to support the transposition of the EU laws (acquis communautaire) to national legislation and facilitate scientific and technical exchange.

In line with its mission JRC has been running since 1999 the Initiative Enlargement and Integration Action E&IA with the objective of providing scientific and technical support to Associated countries to the Research Framework Programme. The activities range from workshops and seminars to advanced trainings, summer schools and study visits.

The JRC organises annually workshops and trainings in specialised areas for Scientific & Technical support to EU policies, which correspond to well-established JRC core competencies. The main objective of these workshops is to assist the competent organisations with the scientific and technical methods and techniques underpinning EU policy implementation and to learn about the methods currently available in the Associated countries to Horizon 2020.

The beneficiaries of this Initiative are experts from research organisations, public administration bodies, national enforcement laboratories and scientists from the Associated Countries to the Research Framework Programme.