Multiple Dimensions of the Landscape


As we delve into the evolving landscape of Research Infrastructures, we are met with a realm where innovation and tradition intersect, creating a multifaceted tapestry of scientific endeavour. The present chapter aims to unravel this complexity, shedding light on the overarching themes that are redefining the essence of RIs: Technological Convergence, Sustainability and Green Innovation, Adaptive Response to Global Challenges, Data-Driven Research Paradigm, and Ethical and Societal Responsibility. 

These themes are not mere facets of scientific progress but are the keystones shaping the future trajectory of Research and Innovation. These dimensions collectively forge a path toward a future that is not only technologically advanced but also ethically grounded and responsive to the ever-evolving needs of society.



Technological Convergence: At the heart of several modern RIs lies the convergence of strongly developing technologies. Digitalisation, AI and quantum computing are shaping a new era of scientific discovery and innovation.

Sustainability and Green Innovation: The pursuit of sustainability transcends specific domains and permeates every facet of society, making it a crucial theme in contemporary RIs. This encompasses efforts to develop sustainable energy systems, materials which can be sourced and used sustainably, and environmentally benign practices that align with major goals regarding health, climate, and biodiversity protection. However, this pursuit is often challenging, given that RIs typically operate at the forefront of technological progress where sustainable solutions are still to be developed.

Adaptive Response to Global Challenges: The capacity of RIs to rapidly adapt and respond to global challenges, such as health crises, environmental changes and biodiversity loss, is crucial and has already been proved during the COVID-19 crisis. This involves developing flexible infrastructures that can pivot to meet emerging global needs, such as pandemic response or climate resilience, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as defined by the United Nations.

Data-Driven Research Paradigm: The shift towards data-intensive research methodologies is redefining scientific inquiry across all domains. This paradigm shift involves harnessing big data, improving data analytics, and ensuring data interoperability for enhanced research outcomes.

Ethical and Societal Responsibility: As RIs advance, there is a growing emphasis on ethical considerations and societal impact, in that future technology and practices should not cause significant environmental or social harm. This dimension encompasses responsible research practices, addressing societal challenges, and ensuring that technological advancements align with ethical standards.



Building upon the foundational understanding established in the previous section, we transition to an analysis of the transversal elements and the practical application and operational realisation of overarching themes across RIs domains. This section delves into the tangible aspects of RIs, dissecting how the key concepts of Digitalisation, Greening, Crisis Preparedness and Response, Data-intensive Approaches, and Inter-, Multi-, Transdisciplinarity are actively woven into the fabric of various RI domains. Each transversal element is intrinsically linked to the broader dimensions previously explored, exemplifying how strategic visions are translated into actionable realities. 
As we navigate through these elements, we uncover the synergies between theoretical concepts and practical implementations, highlighting the dynamic and interconnected nature of modern RIs.

Figure 1 visually represents the linkage between the transversal elements in the RIs landscape and their corresponding overarching multiple dimensions. Each transversal element (on the left) is connected to the relevant key concept (on the right) through lines, illustrating the practical realisation of the broader themes in specific operational contexts.


Figure 1. Synergy in science: mapping transversal elements to key dimensions in Research Infrastructures.Figure 1. Synergy in science: mapping transversal elements to key dimensions in Research Infrastructures.


Figure 1. Synergy in science: mapping transversal elements to key dimensions in Research Infrastructures.



Research Infrastructures across various domains play a crucial role in crisis management, offering crucial support in understanding, responding to, and recovering from diverse challenges. In the DIGIT domain, the exploitation of synergies between EuroHPC and EOSC holds the potential for immeasurable impacts. e-infrastructures have already influenced RIs and RI Clusters through computing and data infrastructures, establishing a foundation for crisis-related analysis, simulations, and decision-making.

The value of SSH research is acknowledged for contributing to societal resilience and policymaking. Building ties between the SSH cluster and EOSC, particularly with the interconnection between EOSC and EuroHPC, presents an opportunity for enhanced integration. SSH RIs, through platforms and coordinated data collections, can play a pivotal role in articulating complex research questions as well as understanding societal shocks and formulating effective crisis responses.

ENV RIs collaborate across operational and research ecosystems within their domain, offering essential data for environmental crises. Their transversal elements, including observational platforms and networks, enhance early warning systems and support post-disaster recovery.

H&F RIs significantly contribute to Horizon Europe missions, addressing health crises, safe treatments and predictions, and ensuring food safety. Leveraging expertise and collaborative networks, RIs in this domain play a crucial role in crisis preparedness, response, and recovery, providing access to state-of-the-art facilities and data for accelerated research. 

Avoiding a crisis is better than managing it. Several major potential future crises relate to energy supply or environmental disruption caused by energy production and use. RIs can enhance Europe’s energy security and independence by exploring new scenarios for sustainable energy production, distribution, and use. Optimising the multifaceted energy system demands multidimensional approaches spanning many research fields and the full Research and Innovation cycle. 

ENE RIs provide a unique base of competences which will be useful in relevant acute situations, providing crucial technical and practical support for society and decision-makers. Recent geopolitical tensions, as evidenced by the Ukrainian conflict, have emphasised Europe’s need to reassess its energy supply chain resilience. The current reliance on non-European sources for critical components of the green transition, such as solar cells and batteries, represents a strategic vulnerability. Energy RIs must pivot not only to support the existing transitions but also to ensure Europe’s long-term energy independence. By accelerating the development of domestic technologies and securing a self-reliant supply chain, Energy RIs will underpin Europe’s strategic autonomy in energy technology, while simultaneously bolstering its capacity for crisis resilience. This strategic realignment is essential as Europe fortifies its energy systems against external shocks and move towards a truly integrated and sustainable energy policy.

The domain of PSE illustrates the impactful role of RIs through history and in recent advancements. Their contributions are broad, covering areas from medical technologies and imaging to innovative materials for the circular economy, and pioneering energy solutions like Photovoltaics, Generation IV fission and fusion. These RIs are crucial in diagnosing global challenges, providing essential training, and transferring expertise. They facilitate the development of technological solutions critical during crises, underscoring their vital contribution to societal welfare and economic development. Through their work, PSE RIs are at the forefront of detecting problems and driving technological innovations, demonstrating a pivotal role in crisis management and the broader scientific ecosystem. 

Interdisciplinary collaboration is decisive in crisis management, addressing societal challenges, and facilitating transitions. ESFRI’s role in fostering cross-domain collaboration is underscored to enhance links for effective crisis response.

Additionally, recognising the significance of AI in crisis management is essential. AI tools applied in the SSH domain contribute to understanding crises. Discussions on AI should incorporate social and cultural dimensions to enable decision-making during crises.