European Call for Action will be drawn up during the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union with recommendations for guaranteeing a long-term sustainable development of scientific and research infrastructures in Europe and opening thereof to European citizens.

There is a need for discussing the capacity as regards the scientific and research milieu – about the resources, infrastructure, human and technological potential, so that the medium becomes competitive and performs cross-cutting priority research. This has been said today by the Minister of Education and Science Krasimir Valchev at the Bulgarian Presidency Flagship Conference “Research Infrastructures beyond 2020 – sustainable and effective ecosystem for science and
society” in Sofia Tech Park.

The Minister has underlined that additional funding from the Structural funds is necessary for the scientific infrastructure. The proposal, which the European Commission is expected to make on 2nd May for the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework, including the Ninth Framework Programme for scientific research and innovations, has already become a subject to discussions.

Minister Valchev has pointed out that the shared use of scientific facilities for cross-cutting scientific goals is placed in the focus of the European policy by the Bulgarian Presidency.

„It is important to avail ourselves from the experience of these scientific facilities, which correspond to the largest degree to the needs of health, high technology, environmental preservation, climate changes, protection response in disasters and accidents, and last but not least – social challenges, in particular, those related to refugees and migration“, he has said and added that the necessity from a long-term sustainability of research and scientific infrastructure is beyond a reasonable doubt.

In 2017 Bulgaria adapted its National Roadmap for Scientific Infrastructure, by presenting the consolidation potential of the available one in the European families of the respective fields of scientific facilities. At the beginning of March this year the three excellence centres were announced, as well as the seven competence centres.

„These are totally tens of Bulgarian significant infrastructures, which are expected to change the scientific milieu both in the country, as well as in Europe. Bulgaria makes investments of over EUR 100 million in the two centres“, the Minister added.

Minister Valchev has appealed for elaborating the concept for an open science in the name of a better milieu in Europe and has again put the emphasis on the attainment of a digital connectivity with the Western Balkans.

The European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas has observed in a video address to the participants that in Sofia are discussed the new Pan-European initiatives, which correspond to the challenges for guaranteeing a coherent and sustainable scientific and research infrastructural ecosystem over the following years.

According to him, in Europe there have already been set up some of the best global facilities, as well as some of the most extensive databases in all scientific fields.

„We have been setting up European capacity in scientific and research infrastructures for decades, by investing billions of euros from the national budgets and from the EU instruments, such as the European structural and investment funds and the Framework Programs for scientific research and innovations“, he noted.

One of the goals of the discussions was the improving the publicity and enhancing the partnership between scientific and research infrastructures, the business and the academia. The opportunities for promoting public-private partnerships were discussed at the conference.

A key message of the conference was the call for research infrastructures to develop an integrated and reliable high-quality system for the maintenance and exchange of data and related business models, taking full account of ethical issues in this field. It has been noted that a systematic and coherent monitoring of research infrastructures, impact assessments and key performance indicators and the presentation of infrastructures is necessary. It was proposed to develop a common tool for pooling resources from different funds to support the construction and exploitation of the scientific infrastructure. The need for better integration of infrastructures in the scientific, economic and social ecosystem at regional, national and European levels has been taken into account in order to maximise impact.

In the next month, conclusions will be drawn from the conference, which will serve as a basis for further discussions and concrete decisions in the Council of the European Union on the future role and financing of research infrastructures in the next EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme.

Participants in the discussions were representatives of the European Commission, members of the European Parliament, state secretaries and Ministers responsible for science, scientific research and innovations from the EU member states, as well as heads and coordinators of European projects for scientific and research infrastructures.