The first Polish National Roadmap for Research Infrastructures is meant to guide the development of future research initiatives of a national and international scale. At the same time, it corresponds to the European programme of linking national research strategies with the European ones under the auspices of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).
The preparation of the document was inaugurated in 2009 by two calls of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, one for Polish research centres and consortia willing to join the ESFRI initiatives, and the other for initiatives of a national or regional scale. As a result of the selection described below in detail, 18 proposals from the ESFRI list and 15 national ones have been accepted for the first Roadmap.
The structure of the selected proposals, in particular these associated with the national facilities, allows for several conclusions to be drawn. The first observation is the absence of projects from several important research areas, such as human and social sciences, agricultural sciences or materials sciences. This is a worrying situation and the Ministry should take steps to redress it.
The majority of the national projects have been proposed by consortia, in some cases quite numerous. While this collaborative effort is appreciated, the need for concentrated, large-scale, single-site proposals should be stressed. They have a better chance not only to attract Polish researchers, but also to become international centres of the ESFRI type.
The next conclusion regards the majority of proposals submitted for the second stage of the selection process. With a few exceptions, a notably weak aspect of the proposals was the concept of management of the infrastructure projects and other organisational issues, such as “open access”. This indicates the need to devise, perhaps with international involvement, specialist training courses.
We also observed a positive aspect of the preparation procedure itself. After the first selection step of the national part of the roadmap, the research centres were encouraged to consolidate their efforts following a “one research topic – one project” approach. As a result, several consortia were established and in a relatively short time prepared joint, coherent projects for the second selection step. Let us hope that these structures will turn out to be efficient and viable. The successful ones are planned to be upgraded to “national laboratories”, single-site or multiple-site units which should receive stable operational funding.
Taking all of the above remarks into account, it seems natural to publish in a very near future a new call for proposals, with the aim of updating the Roadmap. After that, regular biannual updating is envisaged.
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