The exceptional performance of the research infrastructure shared by scientists has helped make remarkable progress in a number of fields. The CNRS plays a leading role in implementing and managing these facilities, both at the national and international levels.
Facilities for the benefit of the scientific community
In collaboration with its French, European, and international partners, the CNRS manages approximately 80 research infrastructures (IR) and very large-scale research facilities (TGIR), for the benefit of the entire scientific community. Researchers across all disciplines thereby have access, in top-level environments, to high-performance equipment for conducting ambitious research projects in cutting-edge fields.
Remarkable instruments such as telescopes, accelerators, synchrotrons, etc., located at one or more sites, are iconic. Yet other first-class scientific resources (collections, archives, or libraries) can be important research infrastructures. Some platforms (databases, IT systems, and communication networks) are virtual, while others consist of human (cohorts, experts) or observation networks.
Owing to the diversity of research fields and collaborations, the research infrastructures in which the CNRS is involved are spread across the globe. While most are in France or elsewhere in Europe, others are located on the American continent, in Africa, and as far away as Antarctica.
Four types of infrastructure
The scientific and technological issues at stake, along with the construction and operating costs related to these infrastructures, require intensive and often international collaboration and resources – whether human or financial. The French Ministry of Higher Education and Research distinguishes between four types of infrastructure depending on their national or international scope, mode of governance, and budgetary support:
- international organisations (OI) based on an intergovernmental agreement,
- very large-scale research infrastructures (TGIR) linked to a governmental strategy,
- research infrastructures (IR) directly implemented by the CNRS and its partners,
- projects that have not yet reached maturity.
The CNRS opted to implement horizontal management for the TGIR. A dedicated committee, reporting to the CNRS Research Office, develops the organisation’s scientific strategy in consultation with its ten Institutes. To carry out its mission, the committee enjoys support from the TGIR unit of the CNRS Resources Office.
National and European roadmaps
The CNRS’s TGIR operate in accordance with the roadmaps of both the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).
- The national roadmap is a strategic governmental management tool. It is updated every two years according to a process taking into account alliances, and supervisory organisations or institutions.
- The ESFRI uses the roadmap to sketch out the European financing strategy for research infrastructures within the framework of the European Research Area. The CNRS contributes to ESFRI projects that relate to its own programming.