Norwegian roadmap for Research Infrastructure

Norway’s participation in international research infrastructures

Participation in international research organisations gives Norwegian researchers access to research infrastructures and an opportunity to take part in innovative and resource-intensive research that would not otherwise be possible with national funding alone. Our participation also provides significant potential for technology sharing and development of Norwegian business and industry.

Norwegian scientists have participated actively in international research organisations for many decades. Cooperation in these organisations is based on international agreements where member fees for each individual country are determined by a contractual calculation key using the gross domestic product or an equivalent as the main factor. Table 1 shows Norway’s membership in international research organisations that are funded by government ministries.

Table 1. Norway’s participation in international research organisations funded by government ministries


 Full name



European Organization for Nuclear Research

since 1954


European Molecular Biology Laboratory

The European Molecular Biology Conference

since 1985


European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

since 1989


International Agency for Research on Cancer

since 1987


European Space Agency

since 1987

OECD Halden



The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) was formed in 2002 by the research ministers of the EU member states and associated countries, as an advisory forum for research infrastructures. ESFRI has participants from all 27 member states and the 11 associated countries to the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme. ESFRI’s mandate is to develop strategic roadmaps (ESFRI Roadmaps) reflecting the needs for new or upgraded research infrastructure in Europe within all scientific disciplines, and follow up the implementation of these infrastructures.

The ESFRI Roadmap has encouraged many countries to develop national roadmaps for research infrastructures and to specify more concretely their national priorities for new investments. The ESFRI Roadmap was first published in 2006 and updated in 2008, 2010, 2016 and 2018. ESFRI will publish the next updated roadmap in September 2021. Even when Europe was suffering from economic crisis in 2008, research infrastructures were given high priority both nationally and across Europe. This is not least due to the fact that European collaboration on research infrastructures is viewed as being of common interest, with a crucial role to play in research to resolve major societal challenges relating to health, climate, the environment, oceans, food and energy. Common projects make it possible to realise infrastructure that is resource-intensive for a single country to manage alone.

A research infrastructure can either be located at a single site or distributed across countries that have complementary nodes within a common infrastructure. An infrastructure located at a single site typically has relatively high investment and operating costs, which is why several countries work together on funding that infrastructure. It is usually the case that membership fees more or less cover the investment and operating costs in full. For the distributed infrastructures, however, the membership fees normally cover only the operating costs of the legal entity that organises joint services. A majority of the research infrastructures in the ESFRI Roadmap are distributed.

The legal agreements for establishing and operating CERN, ESRF, EMBL and similar international research infrastructures were highly complex and involved several years of negotiations. The EU Commission, in cooperation with ESFRI, has therefore prepared the ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) framework to facilitate the establishment and operation of joint research infrastructures across borders.

Norwegian research communities planning to participate in international infrastructures, including membership in infrastructures on the ESFRI Roadmap, must normally apply for funding under the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure (INFRASTRUKTUR). The applications will be assessed on equal footing with other Norwegian projects of national importance. This will ensure that only those projects with the highest quality and relevance to Norwegian research priorities will be granted funding. The Research Council prepares recommendations for Norwegian participation for the relevant sectoral ministries, which make the final decisions on Norway’s membership after each application round under the INFRASTRUKTUR initiative.

So far, Norway has entered into binding participation in 18 of the pan-European infrastructures, including three with Norway as the host country (CESSDA ERIC, ECCSEL ERIC and SIOS Svalbard AS). After the application review process for the sixth call for proposals in 2018, the Research Council awarded funding for and recommended Norwegian membership in one more research infrastructure on the ESFRI Roadmap.

All Norwegian memberships established after 2010 have been for infrastructures on the ESFRI Roadmap. Norwegian scientists and researchers also participate in other international cooperation initiatives on research infrastructure. These are financed either by the research institutions, through research programmes and other instruments in the Research Council, or by other public funding initiatives.

In most countries, it is common practice for a national authority, typically a ministry or research council, to have a representative on the governing body of the joint international infrastructure. In most of these cases for Norway, it is the Ministry of Education and Research or another ministry that has signed the membership agreement that fills this role.

Table 2. Norwegian participation in infrastructures on the ESFRI Roadmap

The list comprises research infrastructure as defined in the strategy document Tools for Research. The Research Council contributes funding and/or administers Norway’s membership in these infrastructures, and it is Norway, not a Norwegian R&D institution, that is a member of the respective international infrastructure.





Social sciences and the humanities


Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure

NL host nation



European Social Survey

UK host nation



Council of European Social Science Data Archives

NO host nation


Natural sciences and technology


European Next Generation Incoherent Scatter radar

European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association

SE host nation. EISCAT member since 1975




European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure

NO host nation


Climate and the environment

Euro Argo ERIC

European contribution to the Argo program

FR host nation



The European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory

IT host nation



Integrated Carbon Observation System

FI host nation



European Plate Observing System       

IT host nation


Svalbard AS

Svalbard Integrated Artic Earth Observing System

NO host nation


Biology and medicine (Life sciences)



European infrastructure for biological information, supporting life science research and its translation to medicine, agriculture, bioindustries and society

UK host nation



Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure

AU host nation



European Advanced Translational Research Infrastructure in Medicine

NL host nation



European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology

DE host nation



European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network

FR host nation


Euro-BioImaging ERIC

Research Infrastructure for Imaging Technologies in Biological and Biomedical Sciences

FI host nation



European Marine Biological Resource Centre

FR host nation



European Spallation Source ERIC

European Spallation Source

SE and DK host nations



European Synchrotron Radiation Facility – Extremely Brilliant Source

FR host nation


Many ESFRI infrastructures are a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). This is an optional legal framework designed as a regulation in the EU. The framework can be used by member states and associated countries to regulate countries’ cooperation on the establishment and operation of pan-European research infrastructures. The ERIC regulation is incorporated into the EEA Agreement and the Norwegian ERIC law was adopted by the Storting on 10 November 2015.

The Nordic countries primarily cooperate through participation in large international infrastructures, including ESFRI. It is an objective that the Nordic countries strengthen cooperation by establishing and operating joint research infrastructures.

Research Council policy for membership of international RI

The policy sets out principles for the establishment, extension and (potential) withdrawal of membership, the respective roles of the institutions and the Research Council in relation to financing of the membership, and Norwegian representation in the infrastructure’s governing body.

The policy is briefly summarised below.

Establishment of membership

Research groups are to apply to the Research Council regarding initiation of a new membership. After assessing the application, the Research Council will advise the relevant ministry on whether Norway should become a member.

It is a ministry that formally applies for Norwegian membership in an international research infrastructure, and which subsequently may withdraw Norway from the cooperation.

Membership in distributed research infrastructures

The Research Council considers membership fees to be part of a node’s operating costs. As a rule, the Research Council will award some funding for operation during the establishment phase.

The Research Council’s recommendation to relevant ministries regarding membership is given for a time-limited period, usually five years. The participating Norwegian institutions must pay for the membership themselves after the first five years.

Membership in localised research infrastructures

Norwegian research institutions are to apply to the INFRASTRUKTUR initiative for funding for Norwegian membership in a single-site infrastructure. Any funding pledges from the INFRASTRUKTUR initiative are given for a time-limited period, usually five years. For extension of the membership, institutions must submit a new application to the INFRASTRUKTUR initiative.

Norwegian representation in governing bodies

To ensure that memberships are adequately supported in Norwegian research institutions, the institutions should be involved in the management of the Norwegian memberships.

Where Norway has decided on – or the Research Council has recommended – membership in ESFRI projects still in the planning and implementation phase, the Research Council will as a rule have a role in the project’s governing body. The Research Council may, however, in consultation with the Ministry of Education and Research or other relevant ministry, choose to appoint a resource person from a Norwegian research institution to take the Research Council’s place in the governing body.

As regards ESFRI infrastructures that have entered a well-functioning operational phase, the Research Council, in consultation with the Ministry of Education and Research or other relevant ministry, will consider replacing its own representation in the governing body with a resource person from one of the participating Norwegian research institutions.

Messages at time of print 3 June 2023, 02:42 CEST

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