Online conference
Stay tuned to the Future. Impact of research infrastructures 2.0

September 16 & 17, 2021

Research infrastructures (RI) have grown in importance in all fields in the last decades. Research infrastructures allow for scientific innovation that requires long-term investment. In Europe the larger infrastructures are often collaborative effort by many different countries. A framework of performance indicators exist nowadays to assess the performance of research infrastructures. However, there is an interest in looking also beyond the core functioning of research infrastructures and understand the broader impact of RIs on science at large, society, economy and politics.

Understanding impact is much more difficult than understanding performance. While the reflections and publications on how to define and measure impact has grown over the last year, a unified framework or consensus on how to assess the impact of research infrastructures does not yet exist.

Taking as point of departure the conference organized by the ESFRI Strategic Working Group on Social and Cultural Innovation on the impact of research infrastructures, which took place in 2018 in Bologna, the ESFRI Strategy Working Groups have joined forces to organize this follow-up conference to discuss the meaning and the possible measurement of impact further. The overall objectives of the conference were:

The exchange on the meaning of impact and its variation between and within different fields and research infrastructures.
The exchange on the measurement of impact and its variation between and within different fields (scientific but also economic, societal, cultural impact).
To showcase where and how infrastructures in different field create impact.
To discuss potential and limitations of collaboration between infrastructures for creating impact.
To discuss what is the best way for research infrastructures to increase their impact further.

Our keynote speakers:

Jelena Angelis: European Future Innovation System Centre, Belgium
Claire Donovan: University of Greenwich, UK
Frédéric Sgard: OECD Global Science Forum, Paris, France

Full programme as PDF

You can download the programme as a pdf.

Programme and session videos Day 1

08.30-09.00. Welcome & Introduction

  • Georg Lutz, Vice chair of ESFRI SWG Social and Cultural Innovation, Local Organiser
  • Philipp Langer, Deputy Director-General EU Framework Programmes & European Research and Innovation Area, State Secretariat for Education, Research & Innovation SERI
  • Apostolia Karamali, Head of Unit, European Commission, R&I Actors and Research Careers (RTD.A.3)
  • Bente Maegaard, Chair of ESFRI SWG Social and Cultural Innovation, Programme Committee chair


Introductory video

09.00-10.30. Keynote session 1. Chair: Georg Lutz
Keynote speakers:

  • Jelena Angelis, European Future Innovation System Centre, Belgium: Impact assessments: Are we in for a long ride?
  • Claire Donovan, University of Greenwich, United Kingdom: The Politics and Ethics of Assessing Research Impact: Implications for research infrastructures


Video session 1

11.00-12.30. Session 2: How do research infrastructures create impact? Chair: Gert Verreet

  • Benedetto Lepori, USI, Università svizzera italiana, Switzerland: Infrastructures for distributed fields: how to engage audiences?
  • Florent Gasparin, Mercator Ocean, France: Key role of RIs for downstream applications: the example of the ocean
  • Thierry Strässle, Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland: Function and impact of a national lab, the example of the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland


Video session 2

13:30-15.00. Session 3: Conceptualisation and measurement of impact. Chair: Jeannette Ridder-Numan

  • Matthew Woollard, UK Data Archive, UK: Impact from Infrastructure: Making Measurement Count
  • Jessica Catalano, Centre for Industrial Studies, University of Milan, Italy: Thinking how to define and measure impacts of RIs
  • Andrew Harrison, Diamond Light Source, UK: Impact of large central facilities for science and engineering – known and unknown quantities


Video session 3

15.30-17.00. Session 4: Collaboration between infrastructures to create impact. Chair: José Luis Martinez

  • Michael Mirtl, eLTER – Long-term Ecosystem, critical zone & socio-ecological Research, Germany/Austria: The impact of community integration, RI-collaboration and co-location across organisational levels from local to global.
  • Antje Keppler, Euro BioImaging: Imaging infrastructures enable discoveries and innovations and provide impact for life sciences
  • Francesco Sette,  ESRF – The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, France: X-ray Science and ESRF in the broad context of science, innovation and education advances

Video session 4. Introduction and presentation by Michael Mirtl

Video session 4. Presentations by Antje Keppler and Francesco Sette

Programme and session videos Day 2

09.00-09.45. Keynote session 1 bis. Chair: Bente Maegaard
Keynote speaker:

  • Frédéric Sgard, OECD Global Science Forum, Paris, France: Revisiting RI impact assessment after the Covid-19 crisis.


Video session 1 bis

09:45-11.15. Session 5: How is impact measured in the various ESFRI domains? Chair: Minh Quang Tran

  • Rory Fitzgerald, ESS – European Social Survey, City University London, UK: Mapping impact and impact pathways: the European Social Survey Research Infrastructure
  • Sébastien Dupraz, ECCSEL –  European Research Infrastructure for CO2Capture, Utilisation, Transport and Storage, France: Documenting impact of ECCSEL ERIC in several dimensions
  • Philippe Segers, PRACE- Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe, Belgium: Impact in the Digital Domain: KPIs of the High Performance Computing infrastructure with impact on other Domains


Video session 5

11.40-12.20. Outcome & looking forward. Discussion. Chair: Jana Kolar
Panel: Georg Lutz, Gert Verreet, José Luis Martinez,  Minh Quang Tran, Bente Maegaard

Video: discussions and outcome

12.20-12.30. Close of the conference. Bente Maegaard


Biographies of the presenters


For issues related to the programme: Bente Maegaard

Program committee

Bente Maegaard,  Social and Cultural Innovation SWG, chair

Georg Lutz, Social and Cultural Innovation SWG, local organiser

Basudeb Chaudhuri, Social and Cultural Innovation SWG

Jose Luis Martinez, Physics and Engineering SWG

Orla Murphy, Social and Cultural Innovation SWG

Jeannette Ridder-Numan, ESFRI Implementation Group

Federico Ruggieri, DIGIT SWG

Radislav Sedlacek, Health and Food SWG

Maria Theofilatou,  European Commission

Minh Quang Tran, Energy SWG

Gert Verreet, Environment SWG

The conference is co-sponsored by: