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Infrastructure

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is developing a research and innovation infrastructure roadmap. This is a challenging task as the UK has never undertaken a road mapping exercise of this breadth and scale. It will offer enormous benefit in increasing our understanding of the UK's current capability and in planning for the future. UKRI has been asked to undertake this project by the Universities and Science Minister and it will contribute to the Government’s ambition of 2.4% UK GDP investment in R&D by 2027. Lord David Willets is the UKRI Board member who is championing this work.

Programme Objectives

We aim to create a long-term (until approximately 2030) research and innovation infrastructure roadmap based on an understanding of existing UK infrastructure (and key international facilities in which the UK participates), future needs (research, economic and social), and resulting investment priorities. 

In addition, the roadmap will:

  • identify future research and innovation capability priorities
  • identify opportunities for increasing inter-connectivity
  • support development of UKRI's overall long-term investment plan
  • promote the UK as a global leader in research and innovation
  • set out the major steps needed to reach the long-term vision.

Please note, this programme is not a direct funding programme.

Timescales

  • Programme launched – January 2018
  • Emerging findings published – Autumn 2018 
  • First edition published – Spring 2019

We aim to establish a process for reviewing the roadmap, evolving our approach and producing further editions approximately every 3 – 5 years.

Definition of a roadmap

A strategic plan that sets out an overall vision for research and innovation infrastructures and the major steps needed to achieve it.

Definition of research and innovation infrastructures

Facilities, resources and services that are used by the research and innovation communities to conduct research and foster innovation in their fields. They can include: 

  • major research equipment (or sets of instruments)
  • knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives and data
  • e-infrastructures such as data and computing systems and communication networks

This programme is focused on large scale activities and looking across the full spectrum of disciplines. Our minimum requirements are that the infrastructures must receive substantial public funding and meet the following criteria:

  • Purpose: An infrastructure must provide an essential platform to conduct or facilitate excellent research and innovation that benefits the UK.
  • Accessibility: An infrastructure must provide access, resources or related services to the wider UK research and innovation community outside the infrastructure host institution / owner / operator. Publicly funded users may include HEIs, institutes, PSREs, RTOs and other R&I organisations. In addition, access may extend to private or charitable users (e.g. industry), international users of UK facilities and UK users of international facilities. Access may be managed, e.g. user registration, fees, competition, merit review, conditions, security.
  • Scale and longevity: An infrastructure must have some degree of strategic, international, national or regional importance. It must have a sustained and/or substantial UK public funding commitment (e.g. to build, operate, upgrade, decommission). This funding can come from multiple public sources in addition to any funding from non-public sources. Short term, focussed projects without long term sustainability (existing or planned) are not within scope.

Developing the roadmap

The roadmap will be structured around the sectors listed below, as well as highlighting cross-cutting themes as we recognise many infrastructures will contribute to more than one sector. The list below aligns with the sector headings that the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) has been using in their roadmaps for many years.

  • Biological sciences, health and food
  • Environment 
  • Energy
  • Physical sciences and engineering
  • Social sciences, arts and humanities
  • Computational and e-infrastructures

To develop the roadmap, we are conducting:

  • A landscape analysis: assessing which infrastructures are currently available to the UK research and innovation community (within the UK and key activities overseas) to create snapshot of our current capability
  • Assessment of future priorities and opportunities: identifying priority capabilities and future needs and opportunities that could be addressed by infrastructures

We are carrying out these strands of work in parallel, informed by any previous roadmapping work within individual disciplinary areas and by engagement with the research and innovation community through surveys, workshops and interviews. We are aiming to produce an interim report of our findings in the autumn to support further engagement and feedback as we develop the final report.

Survey of existing infrastructures

As part of this programme we are conducting analysis to better understand the current research and innovation infrastructure landscape. We have carried out an initial survey to gather information on research and innovation infrastructures of strategic importance to the UK. Thank you to those who have taken the time to complete this. We are currently analysing the responses to this first questionnaire. We will follow up with respondents in summer 2018 using a second survey that will go into a more depth in a few areas, based on the analysis of the first survey data. An overview of the findings will form part of the interim report in the autumn.

Further information

Slides from talks at programme launch event on 22 January 2018:

Further updates on the infrastructure roadmap will be added to this page as the work progresses.

If you have any questions please email infrastructure@ukri.org