Research is crucial to maintain Europe's role in the world, and it can be boosted using new technologies, wich blows up any border or impediment like distances between scientist or data. Europe 2020 flagship initiative Innovation Union identified the essential concern of world-class research infrastructures (RIs) for the completion of the European Research Area. In fact, it highlighted that RIs can be instrumental to attract talent into innovative clusters and as a breeding ground for Information and communications technology (ICT) and key enabling technologies.
The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) is specifically devoted to identify the new research infrastructures of pan-European interest with the goal of promoting the long-term competitiveness. The identified RIs are listed in the ESFRI Roadmap; wich last update was performed in 2010 including 48 projects.
The Innovation Union initiative set the goal that 60% of those projects should be implemented by 2015. As a consequence, in December 2012 the Competitiveness Council mandated Esfri to ensure the follow-up of implementation of already on-going projects.
Individual countries commit to participate in Esfri RIs following specific strategies, which usually are also based on regional interests. The inclusion of the regional dimension will facilitate knowledge cohesion across Europe. Besides, the distributed nature of the environmental infrastructures offers opportunities for regional involvement to develop innovation clusters, as they have common features (data openness, interoperability, demand of ICT resources and developments, applicability for environmental management and research) that have to be developed. That later is which make them attractive for regional authorities as they have potential to raise the academic, technological, economic and environmental standards of their territories.
Esfri has launched a draft report where the environmental RIs projects Eiscat-3D (a three-dimensional imaging radar to monitorize the atmosphere), EMSO (the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory), EPOS (about earthquakes, volcanoes, surface dynamics and tectonics), Euro-Argo, Iagos (observations of atmospheric composition), ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System), and LifeWatch have been identified as projects with a high likelihood to be implemented in 2015. Moreover, it identified the potential for linking and networking data to create integrated services from Euro-Argo, Iagos, ICOS and LifeWatch for greater scientific impact.
In addition, Europe 2020 Flagship initiative 'Digital Agenda for Europe' emphasizes the important role of e-infrastructures to equip competitive research environments (including research infrastructures). In fact, advanced ICT tools for compute and data intensive processing and management should be developed to this end.
In this respect, LifeWatch is a particularly relevant case of Esfri environmental from the regional perspective with potential for capitalizing already existing investments; improving ICT developments that may be useful for biodiversity research and for other purposes.
As an Esfri has an already demonstrated capability to integrate different funding sources, including structural funds, and for taking advantage ofcurrently operational facilities distributed in the different countries. Furthermore, it has raised the interest of researchers (both biodiversity and ICT-oriented), industry (ICT) and policy makers of the environmental field (international, national, regional, and local).
Several countries have already invested structural funds in LifeWatch (Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain). These countries and others are thinking in mobilizing funds from the new MFF 2014-2020 (Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain).