European Research Infrastructures

European Research Infrastructures are facilities that provide resources and services for research communities to conduct research and foster innovation.

They can be used beyond research e.g. for education or public services and they may be single-sited, distributed, or virtual.

They include

  • major scientific equipment or sets of instruments

  • collections, archives or scientific data

  • computing systems and communication networks

  • any other research and innovation infrastructure of a unique nature which is open to external users


The European Commission (EC) defines, evaluates and implements strategies and tools to provide Europe with world-class sustainable Research Infrastructures.

It does this while coooperating closely with EU countries and countries associated to Horizon 2020. It also ensures that these research infrastructures are open and accessible to all researchers in Europe and beyond.

Key objectives

  • reduce fragmentation of the research and innovation ecosystem

  • avoid duplication of effort

  • better coordinate the development and use of Research Infrastructures

  • establish strategies for new pan-European, well-established intergovernmental or national Research Infrastructures

  • join forces internationally to construct and run large, complex or expensive infrastructures, respond to global challenges and/or foster combining skills, data and efforts of the world's best scientists

  • foster the innovation potential of Research Infrastructures by making industry more aware of opportunities offered to improve their products and by the co-development of advanced technologies e.g. ATTRACT

  • use Research Infrastructures for science diplomacy - using science collaboration to address common problems and build partnerships internationally e.g. SESAME in Jordan and EU-CELAC in Latin America

The EC also provides the charter for access to research infrastructures which sets out principles and guidelines when defining access policies for Research Infrastructures.

Examples of Research Infrastructure projects

  • EPOS: Viable solutions to tackle solid Earth grand challenges

  • ESS: The world’s next-generation neutron science facility

  • ELIXIR: A distributed infrastructure for Life science information

  • SHARE: A survey on Health, ageing and retirement in Europe

The Research Infrastructure landscape is a full list (including those not offering free access) of Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructures in Europe arranged by theme.