Mapping of the European Research Infrastructure Landscape (MERIL)

Publié le 21 février 2013, par Thérèse Hameau

What is MERIL ?

The MERIL portal gives access to an inventory of the most excellent research infrastructures (RIs) of ’more-than-national’ relevance in Europe across all scientific domains, including the humanities and social sciences. It aims to be a user-friendly resource for information commonly needed by researchers seeking access to an infrastructure and by policy-makers analysing the current status of research infrastructures in Europe. The database will be continuously updated with RIs that meet the criteria for inclusion (see below).

RIs included in the database have been evaluated through a national or European process on the basis of commonly agreed criteria and recognised as being of the highest standards and relevance to research in Europe. Inclusion in the database is thus a label of quality.

Each research infrastructure in the database is described in a standard format, with a limited amount of core information and a web link to each individual research infrastructure.


The Research Infrastructure Information Base in Europe | décembre 2013
Summary of the Roundtable Debate of 6 November 2013, Brussels

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3. Coda
Peter Tindemans summarised the main lines of convergence in the following way.

  • There is a need to communicate the importance of research infrastructures to the outside world. Despite the good work of ESFRI and others, there is a great deal of work to be done, at national and European level, to convince people that RIs in all their variety are an essential part of the scientific enterprise and of the transformation of scientific results into use in society. RIs have to be understood as embedded in the whole science and innovation framework and as part of a rapidly evolving ecosystem.
  • It’s easy to make the case for engagement with industry ; the question is how to do it. We have to start experimenting with industrial engagement, especially with SMEs. We need to collect information and examples of good practice – how can research infrastructures work more closely with industry. This may require that RIs adopt different modes of operation, introduce new financial schemes and support mechanisms, provide more room for routine activities to facilitate industrial users.
  • Europe has been doing a lot in research infrastructure strategy over the past ten years and it shows. Europe is leading the way on digital RIs and RI governance and its leadership has a wider importance. Through science diplomacy, RIs and Europe can widen their horizons and increase their possibilities.
  • MERIL is an important development, but it will have to think carefully about how best to serve the needs of its targeted user communities, and whether it can serve them all. Some but not all scientific communities will use MERIL to identify facilities and resources available in other countries, but it’s important not to fall into a trap of just listing equipment. Especially valuable for industry would be informati on on access conditions, on how to use the services/equipment, and on the support offered to use RIs, e.g. from funding agencies. Information on the expertise available would be invaluable. Policy makers are clearly an important audience, but information has to be made digestible for them. MERIL can be a tool for policy makers to learn about the variety of RIs and the evolution in the nature of RIs towards data-based, digital RIs. MERIL should aim to analyse and explain the meaning and importance of the data. MERIL will need a lot of work to maintain, update and enrich the data and facilitate its use by industry. This will require the commitment from all stakeholders, but primarily from its users.

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