Turning the spotlight on future-proof digital research infrastructure ecosystems and competences – CSC’s recommendations for strategic planning of Horizon Europe

Turning the spotlight on future-proof digital research infrastructure ecosystems and competences – CSC’s recommendations for strategic planning of Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe’s strategic planning process for 2025-2027 is ongoing. The plan sets the orientations and investment priorities for Horizon Europe and guides the work programmes in the coming years. Stakeholders have been invited to contribute to the planning, and CSC has elaborated two position papers with recommendations on 1) future strategic priorities for the European research infrastructure ecosystem, 2) how to make full use of data and advanced technologies to advance health research and innovation.

The common approach in both position papers is that CSC recognizes that Horizon Europe greatly contributes to Europe’s open strategic autonomy and resilience through excellent research, innovation and competence building. To maximize this potential, it is crucial to develop research infrastructures as interoperable ecosystems with a focus on capacities and capabilities in data management and advanced technologies. Digital infrastructures and data are critical success factors for Europe, which could be seen in for example addressing global crises like the Covid-19 pandemic: Vaccines could not have been created so rapidly without efficient research infrastructures. These kinds of capacities need to stand out in Horizon Europe’s strategic plan for 2025 – 27. Horizon Europe must additionally recognize that in the current era of data-intensive research, data is a strategic asset, and the ownership of our most valuable data, such as health data, must be kept in Europe. Therefore, sustainable funding for publicly owned data infrastructures must be secured.

Long-term sustainability and continuity of the European RI landscape require building on existing well-functioning RIs, using stable and predictable funding models that meet the needs of RIs throughout their life cycles. Horizon Europe must additionally be a vehicle for strengthening the global research infrastructure ecosystem in strategic partnerships with like-minded actors.

Both position papers underline that the next Horizon Europe Strategic Plan must put competence development in a more central position. Systematic strengthening of European competences cannot be treated as a separate track - it is an integral part of developing the European RI ecosystem and building next generation capabilities – and ultimately the competitiveness and resilience of Europe.

Additional recommendations for Research Infrastructures (Pillar I)

  • Horizon Europe can be instrumental in encouraging RIs to make their own carbon footprint as small as possible by setting comprehensive climate criteria with impactful metrics, and by making full climate impact assessment of the RI lifecycle an integral part of the programme.
  • The principles of FAIR data, open science and interoperability at all levels (see European Interoperability Framework) must remain at the heart of Horizon Europe.
  • Horizon Europe must drive data management, HPC capacities and emerging technologies, such as AI and quantum, to develop in close convergence, and support the development of joint services between European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU), to reap full benefits of digital RI ecosystems.

Additional recommendations for Cluster 1: Health (Pillar II)

  • Horizon Europe must support secondary use of health data ensuring quality, reusability and interoperability of health data spanning from healthcare to research and innovation across Member States.
  • Attention must be put on smooth integration of various data types into the European Health Data Space, curating important data sources for research.
  • Support is needed for federated data access technologies and secure processing environments in order to foster research in areas like genomics in compliance with European legal and privacy standards.
  • Horizon Europe should prioritise data altruism in practice e.g. by exploring enabling technologies.

Read the full statements here:

Research Infrastructures

Cluster 1: Health