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Sustainable development of research infrastructure
Nearly HUF 3.2 billion (EUR 10.5 million) in the budget of the NRDI Office and the NRDI Fund is allocated to the costs of accessing foreign research infrastructures in 2016. The Office monitors the benefits from membership contributions to research infrastructures on an annual basis, by looking into the achievements versus expenditure in the specific R&D fields, so that the public benefits of such payments can be understood not only by the concerned stakeholders, but also the wider researcher community, society and decision-makers responsible for the funding of science.

Following an assessment of the needs of the scientific community, the National Research Infrastructure Committee  may submit proposals on withdrawals or  joining new research infrastructures.

Considering the impact of research infrastructures on economic competitiveness, in 2014 József Pálinkás as a government commissioner then, initiated the establishment of the National Research Infrastructure Committee (NRIC) , which comprises the representatives of the domestic researcher community. The primary aim of this body is to recommend a national strategy for research infrastructure and align the same with the concepts of foreign infrastructure memberships, this way ensuring that the utilisation of available RDI funds are transparent and reasonable both in terms of domestic infrastructure development and international membership fees. The latter issue is particularly important as the current financing scheme of foreign memberships is apparently not sustainable in the long run, and global trends also tend to confirm this. As an alternative solution to make membership fees more reasonable, countries with smaller interests can share their rights and fees for a given infrastructure, like Hungary did together with the Czech Republic and Slovakia as a member of the CentralSync consortium in the case of the  ESRF-EBS, the facility operating Europe’s largest synchrotron source enabling the examination of electromagnetic radiation. When it comes to infrastructures currently under construction, it is a priority that by applying innovative financing schemes the relevant spending should stimulate the involvement of domestic businesses as suppliers. Contribution of in-kind supplies is a positive example: in the construction phase of the European Spallation Source (ESS) project 70% of the financial contribution made by Hungary is returned to domestic suppliers in the form of supply orders, which also boosts the R&D activity of domestic stakeholders.

As a first step, the NRIC incorporated previous situation analyses and recommendations into the document “Research Infrastructures in Hungary” which was adopted by the Hungarian Government. Subsequently, in late 2015 a comprehensive survey was carried out on the needs of joining foreign research infrastructures: the questionnaire sent to all major actors in the higher education and academic sector prompted respondents to specify new research infrastructure projects they would be eager to join and provide reasons. 21 respondent institutions recommended altogether 55 foreign infrastructures for joining, which were assessed by the National Research Infrastructure Committee split by disciplines. As the next step, the NRDI Office decided, on the basis of the committee’s proposal, to start negotiations about membership in the selected infrastructures. This process resulted in the cooperation agreements which enabled Hungary to join new research infrastructures in several scientific fields. Thus, it is reasonable to state that the decisions on the new memberships below were all based on the real needs of research institutions and on a policy consensus.

Infrastructure
Peculiarity, aim
Member since
Membership fee
Expected benefit
CERIC ERIC
(Central European Research Infrastructure Consortium)
http://www.ceric-eric.eu
Aim: access to analytical, structural and imaging tests performed with synchrotron and neutron beams and other microscopic probes, and to the necessary material modification processes.
1 January 2017
no membership fee
Development of the domestic researcher network, participation in international research projects, networking, opportunity to create technological cooperations in the fields of nanotechnology, environmental and materials science, life sciences and cultural heritage.
ESRF
(European Synchrotron Radiation Facility)
http://www.esrf.eu
Special X-ray source which is fundamentally important for determining the atomic structure, electronic structure and magnetic properties of materials. Aim: x-ray based measurement technique service used by chemistry, biology, materials science, nanotechnology, solid state physics, medicine, pharmacy, earth sciences, environmental science and even archaeology. 
1 January 2017
EUR 1,120,530 for 2017
EUR 247,800 for 2018
EUR 242,260 for 2019
EUR 247,100 for 2020
EUR 252,050 for 2021
ESRF stands out from the several synchrotron sources of the world in terms of test beam parameters, the number of measurement techniques, available equipment and the number of measurement channels, enabling Hungarian researchers to participate in cutting-edge research projects in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, materials science and earth sciences.
ELIXIR
(European Life-sciences Infrastructure for Biological Information)
https://www.elixir-europe.org
The most extensive network in Europe connecting life sciences databases. Aim: creation, development and provision of existing (and future) biological data sources enabling the optimal storage, integration and analysis of biological information for European researcher communities.
1 January 2017
EUR 34,135 per year
Increase in the effectiveness of research projects in biology and life sciences, construction of bioinformatics capacities, mainly but not exclusively for industrial purposes (pharmaceutics, biotechnology, healthcare etc.)
EU-BI
(Euro-BioImaging Consortium)
http://www.eurobioimaging.eu
A consortium network led by leading European light microscopy and medical imaging laboratories. Aim: support to basic and applied research and diagnostics in biomedicine through advanced light microscopy and medical imaging services. These techniques have become so developed and diverse that no institution or even country could provide all of them for the researcher community.
22 July 2016
Approx. EUR 52,000 per year
The membership gives (even online) access to Hungarian participants to the central imaging infrastructures of the EU, contributing to the creation of highly qualified jobs and innovative startup businesses, as well as to the development of technology-intensive products, procedures and services. Domestic researchers and professionals can gain practical experience in using advanced imaging technology, and have the opportunity for international networking.
CESSDA ERIC
(Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives)
http://cessda.net/
The only organization at European level to deal with the collection, archiving, connection and distribution of social sciences databases. Aim: maintenance of a searchable virtual research infrastructure which integrates the social sciences databases of all EU member states and partner countries.
1 January 2017
EUR 5,400 per year
Integration and harmonisation of domestic sociological databases; improvement of data quality through the development of metadata standards. Certificate for data archiving organisations; professional training. Comparative data is indispensible for queries for administrative and scientific purposes.  
CLARIN ERIC
(Common Language Resources and Technologies Infrastructure)
https://www.clarin.eu
Aim: provides advanced digital language resources and tools primarily for scholars and social scientists.  It was created by the merger of three ESFRI language technology initiatives. One of the founding parties was the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which played a leading role in the preparatory project as well.
1 August 2016
EUR 12,773 per year
The integration of digital language resources provides online access to remote archives primarily for researchers primarily in the field of linguistics but also in humanities and social sciences. The membership gives access for Hungarian researchers to state-of-the-art digital language resources.
ESS Social
(European Social Survey)
http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org
Aim: gaining comparative data about the demographic and social conditions of European societies, political and public preferences of citizens, and changes in social attitudes and action-guiding values.
1 September 2016
8th round
EUR 43,073
9th round
EUR 44,367
Hungary has participated in all seven rounds of the survey. Currently 1620 Hungarian users are registered in the ESS, including students, academics, governmental organisations and NGOs. Permanent membership further expands users’ opportunities.

In addition to recommending foreign membership opportunities, the NRIC– in line with the updated Roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) –identifies development priorities of domestic infrastructures. This will lay the groundwork for the upcoming Hungarian National Roadmap, which is adjusted to the ESFRI Roadmap and will continuously monitor domestic researchers' needs through a complex assessment system and compare them to the results achieved. In addition to scientific excellence and networking, socio-economic use and ensuring the next generation of researchers in the respective fields of science are increasingly considered as key aspects: the more researchers have access to the given infrastructure, the better the membership fee is exploited. The NRDI Office is currently developing the methodology of the assessment procedure relating to the membership in foreign infrastructures. Beside the scientific impact, the set of criteria also takes into account the socio-economic benefits based on quantifiable indicators, such as the value of projects implemented in industrial cooperation, the number of researchers using the infrastructure, the number of publications and press articles etc.

ESFRI

ESFRI published its 2016 Roadmap in May 2016 which determines the development framework of research institutions for the next ten years. The document set the objective that projects should be completed in ten years, should be realistically sustainable, and should ensure maximum ROI from the perspectives of science, innovation, education, socio-economic benefits and competitiveness. The level of rationalisation is well reflected by the fact that out of the 38 infrastructures of the previous 2010 Roadmap only 15 were left and only six new projects were added to the list.

Last modified: January 25, 2017
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