Shaping Tomorrow: RIs Transformative Power in Science, Society, and Beyond

The anticipated impacts across diverse Research Infrastructure domains collectively contribute to advancing scientific knowledge, fostering innovation, and addressing societal challenges. This influence extends beyond academia, significantly impacting policy and economic sectors.

RIs serve as vital sources of data and expertise that inform policymaking, ensuring that scientific advancements are aligned with societal needs and government agendas. Economically, RIs are catalysts for innovation, driving industrial competitiveness and contributing to job creation and economic growth, particularly in high-tech sectors. This is further amplified by the interdisciplinary collaborations spanning across these domains, bringing together diverse expertise and perspectives to drive innovative solutions.

Additionally, the role of RIs in education and training is pivotal for developing skills and building capacity across domains, which is essential for sustaining the European research community and industry. These infrastructures are not only hubs of scientific discovery but also centres of learning and professional development, shaping the next generation of scientists and industry leaders.

In the PSE domain, cutting-edge RIs like the European XFEL, ESRF-EBS, ILL and ELI ERIC are pivotal in advancing our understanding in fields ranging from Material Science to Pharmaceuticals. These infrastructures exemplify interdisciplinary innovation and serve as platforms for education and skill development, often collaborating with sectors like Biology and Medicine to develop new diagnostic tools and treatments, demonstrating the potential for cross-domain innovation. Extremely powerful telescopes like SKAO, CTAO, ELT and ET are designed to transform the understanding of the universe and to provide instruments for new insights in cosmic evolution, composition, and astrobiology. 

In the ENE sector, RIs such as ECSSEL ERIC, JHR and IFMIF-DONES are crucial in sustainable decarbonised economic development and energy independence and security, including education and training cross-linking disciplines like Environmental Science, Engineering, and Economics, to address energy challenges holistically. 

The DIGIT domain, with infrastructures like EuroHPC and EOSC, showcases the impact of synergies between digital technologies and various research fields. These digital RIs enable seamless interoperability and future developments, integrating data and tools from various disciplines. They are at the forefront of promoting Open Science, facilitating access to scientific data and resources. The Open Science approach accelerates research, fosters collaboration, and democratises access to scientific knowledge. 

In the SSH domain, the application of AI and digital tools, facilitated by RIs like CLARIN ERIC and DARIAH ERIC, offers profound insights and critical scrutiny of AI’s ethical implications. These collaborations, involving Computer Science, Ethics, and Social Sciences, highlight the role of SSH in shaping societal values and contributing to the responsible development of technology. They also underscore the importance of integrating digital tools and Open Science principles in SSH research, enhancing its impact and relevance. In the same vein, ESS ERIC, SHARE ERIC and GGP have been key contributors to a more holistic understanding of the COVID pandemic from childhood to old age. 

The ENV RIs support research through advanced data provision. These infrastructures collaborate with domains such as Climate Science, Biology, and Geology, contributing significantly to our understanding and addressing global environmental challenges. They are also key in educating and training environmental scientists, ensuring a continuous development of skills and expertise in this critical area. Furthermore, RIs in this domain play a critical role in promoting environmental sustainability, climate action and biodiversity loss. Their contributions resonate with global and EU-specific sustainability goals, providing essential data and insights for environmental policy and sustainable development strategies. It is imperative to cultivate awareness regarding the ongoing challenge of effectively communicating with policymakers and the general public to instil trust in ENV RIs advanced datasets, environmental research, and measurements. This aspect necessitates sustained attention and effort.

In the H&F domain, RIs are central in addressing health-related challenges. These range from enhancing diagnostic efficiency to advancing drug and treatment development, addressing pandemic threats, ensuring food security and safety, and devising strategies to enhance the food supply chain. Their interdisciplinary collaborations, involving domains such as Genetics, Nutrition, and Public Health, are instrumental in biomedical research, addressing challenges such as infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. They also emphasise the importance of skills development and capacity building in the H&F sectors, aligning with HE missions like Cancer and Climate Adaptation.

This chapter has underscored the interconnected and multifaceted nature of Research Infrastructures. Their combined impact on scientific advancement, societal welfare, and the tackling of global challenges is evident. This impact is significantly bolstered by the power of interdisciplinary collaboration, skills and capacity building, and the integration of Open Science and digital technologies. The broader impacts of RIs on policy, the economy, sustainability, and environmental protection highlight their vital role in shaping a more informed, sustainable, and prosperous future. [see Table 3]


table 3. Summary of key contributions and impacts per knowledge domain in the current landscape
Table 3. Summary of key contributions and impacts per knowledge domain in the current landscape