The European Commission presented LifeWatch as a showcase of the succesfully use of the Structural Funds to sustain the creation of a paneuropean ICT research infrastructure project. The Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology organized a worksop in Brussels on the 12th of May with the attendance of over 80 persons from 15 countries and 20 regions.
The 'Workshop on the use of Structural Funds for the construction of distributed e-Infrastructures supporting environment initiatives' emphasizes the development of the project using joint actions through different programming opportunities, such as 3S to INTERREG, to LIFE+ and others.
Several countries, specifically Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain, have already invested structural funds in LifeWatch during the preparatory phase. This investment turned out essential to maintain the project and to impulse the common work and the setting up of different tools related to the future research European infrastructure. Furthermore, a diverse group of countries -Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain-- had expressed their willingness to use the muiltiannual financial framework to support LifeWatch.
During the meeting LifeWatch's representatives highlighted the complementarities of environmental ESFRI projects with Horizon 2020 actions, specially within the framework of Research e-Infrastructures programs, among others. In this respect, the regional interest is crutial, because the funds are going to be distributed among countries taking into account their Smart Specialization Strategies (RIS3), that had been designed and aproved in the last few years. As a consequence, the projects should take into account this regional perspective from the outset.
Therefore, for the coming years, through the Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy, the so called RIS3, can be mobilize both Structural, Innovation (ESIF) and H2020 funds, and also can be financed by national and regional calls. This financing scheme opens a wide range of posibilities for the regions to develope their technological capabilities and increase their competitiveness, and as a result to foster the local economy and trigger employment.
One of the main conclussions of this workshop is the needed of specific guidelines to the regional authorities interested in mobilizing the European Innovation Funds in the construction and operation of ESFRI, a task that might be done by the European Comission in coordination with national authorities.
As a consequence, another request is the petition of a study to explore ways to promote and optimally combine resources and different from local, regional, national and European financing lines (H2020, Structural and Innovation funds).
During the meeting another environmental ESFRI case estudies about the use of European financial means were presented, particularly about EMSO (European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water Column Observatory); EURO ARGO (European contribution to ARGO program); and ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System).