Internationally coordinated research infrastructure networks with the ERIC legal form serve as a network for national research infrastructures. These networks are hosted at higher education institutions and research institutions, and arise in a bottom-up fashion. ERICs work within their scientific fields to coordinate research activities, services and knowledge exchange, which facilitates research collaboration at European level. Switzerland is active in various ERICs and continually examines the potential for new participations and memberships.
Requests for Switzerland to join an ERIC are to be submitted to SERI by the higher education and research institutions. This should be done as part of the Swiss roadmap process managed by SERI.
Internationally coordinated research infrastructure networks are composed of national nodes that are hosted by higher education and research institutions. They standardise and coordinate services, resources (e.g. research data) and instrument use. These international networks exploit synergies and economies of scale. Switzerland participates in numerous ERICs, which allows research communities in Switzerland to make active and sustainable use of these research infrastructures while also coordinating the further development of their scientific fields.
The European Union created the ERIC legal form (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) in order to simplify the process of founding and operating internationally coordinated research infrastructure networks. It lies within the Federal Council’s remit to make decisions on Swiss membership of an ERIC. SERI provides guidance to national research infrastructures as they take the necessary steps towards membership. Parliament is informed of new accessions in the context of the message on the promotion of education, research and innovation (ERI Dispatch).
Switzerland is a member of the following six ERICs since summer 2023:
- BBMRI ERIC (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure):
Swiss node: Swiss Biobanking Platform SBP
- CESSDA ERIC (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives):
Swiss node: Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS
- DARIAH ERIC (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities):
Swiss node: Swiss National Data and Service Center for the Humanities DaSCH
- ECRIN ERIC (European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network):
Swiss node: Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation SCTO
- EPOS ERIC (European Plate Observing System):
Swiss node: ETH Zurich / Swiss Seismological Service SED
- ICOS ERIC (Integrated Carbon Observation System):
Swiss node: ETH Zurich / ICOS-CH
Switzerland also holds observer status in fourERICs:
- ESSurvey ERIC (European Social Survey)
Swiss node: Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS
- SHARE ERIC (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe)
Swiss node: University of Lausanne / FORS
- CLARIN ERIC (Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure)
Swiss node: LiRI @ University of Zurich / CLARIN-CH
- ACTRIS ERIC (Aerosol, Clouds, and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure)
Swiss node: ACTRIS Switzerland
Procedure and criteria for Switzerland to join an ERIC research infrastructure network
1. SERI evaluation of Swiss national nodes in ERICs
As part of the Swiss Roadmap for Research Infrastructures, SERI examines applications from higher education institutions and research institutions that are home to the national node of an existing ERIC or one that is currently being established (host institutions), with a view to Switzerland joining that ERIC (implementation case). This procedure takes place every four years.
The SERI examines the following criteria:
- The ERIC or ERIC in preparation is recognised at the European level as a centre of excellence and a strategic infrastructure for the European research area and is therefore included in the latest ESFRI roadmap
- A Swiss national node, including, if applicable, a consortium of relevant additional institutions of higher education and research institutions in Switzerland, is established and, in the case of a consortium, structured on the basis of a binding consortium agreement.
- The Swiss national node fulfils the following criteria, which the members of a possible Swiss consortium adhere to as well:
- The Swiss national node is part of the strategic planning of the (leading) host institution.
- The Swiss national node provides an open access mechanism, namely:
- a solid mechanism of exchange with users, such as an operational single-entry point for access (incl. remote) as well as online information about the research infrastructure’s scope, responsible persons, access policies, the services offered to users, and guidelines for usage (incl., if applicable, the price model);
- established IPR rules which are published.
- The Swiss national node has a published data management strategy, incl. guidelines for users, and a clear strategy for constantly enhancing interoperability and reusability in order to fully embrace the FAIR principles.
- The medium- to long-term basic funding of the national node’s infrastructures and services is sustainably ensured by the host institution on the basis of a development and financing plan (business plan) and, if applicable, by the higher education and research institutions participating in the consortium. The clustering of initiatives/consortia should be enhanced and coordinated (incl. funding mechanisms for shared services) where appropriate.
The Swiss National Science Foundation uses its own criteria to produce a scientific case. This supplements the evaluations at European level.
Once positive decisions have been made by SERI (implementation case) and the SNSF (scientific case), the Federal Council is able to request that the relevant ERIC admits Switzerland as a member. It also requests that Parliament approve the funding necessary to cover membership fees, as part of the ERI Dispatch.
Periodic review of Swiss membership
The SNSF and SERI review Swiss membership in ERICs every four years, as part of the roadmap process for research infrastructures. The SNSF reviews scientific aspects according to its own criteria, while SERI conducts its reviews in accordance with the ERIC’s criteria catalogue.
- Federal Decree on Switzerland joining six international research infrastructure networks with the legal form ERIC (BBMRI ERIC, CESSDA ERIC, DARIAH ERIC, ECRIN ERIC, EPOS ERIC and ICOS ERIC)
- Dispatch on Switzerland joining six international research infrastructure networks with the ERIC legal form (in German)
- European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC)
- Swiss participation in international research infrastructures