Research infrastructures

© Aurel Märki / SNF

The SNSF is proposing a national strategic planning model for coordinated and sustainable funding and development of Switzerland’s research infrastructures. The aim is also to stimulate discussion on this topic.

Research infrastructures provide resources and services to help the scientific community carry out its research activities. They can be different in nature and are grouped into three categories, depending on their function: technical infrastructures with large facilities, data-oriented infrastructures, and service and coordination platforms. With the growing importance of data and the discussion surrounding data access, infrastructures – and in particular data infrastructures – are important drivers for the implementation of the national Open Research Data (ORD) strategy.

Access to quality research infrastructures is essential for public and private sector research participants. They play a crucial role in gaining new insights, innovative technological developments and training of scientists. They pave the way for new research avenues and enable us to respond to the social and economic challenges of the day.

The situation in Switzerland

Switzerland, which hosts international-class infrastructures such as CERN, has numerous infrastructures of national or local importance. These are often born of specific needs of the various research communities. Their funding comes from multiple sources and depends on the institutions’ short- and medium-term scientific and financial priorities. It is thus not guaranteed in the long term, a situation which puts at risk the functioning and development of the infrastructures.

How can infrastructure funding be assured over the long term?

The SNSF is proposing to establish a national coordination framework which will bring infrastructure funding stakeholders together and be tasked with national strategic planning for research infrastructures in Switzerland in order to ensure coherence and support in the long term. Its main tool for this is a roadmap which has been strengthened in its role as a strategic planning instrument and which shows the priority areas for investment. Regularly updated, and designed in collaboration with funding stakeholders, this roadmap is based on an inventory of the existing research infrastructures, an evaluation of the needs of the various scientific communities and a landscape analysis.

The aim of this vision is to stimulate a constructive dialogue between the infrastructure funding stakeholders and to pursue a coherent and long-term infrastructure landscape which enhances Switzerland’s competitiveness in the fields of research and innovation.