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Norway’s participation in international research infrastructures

International cooperation gives Norwegian scientists access to research infrastructures and opens opportunities to participate in innovative and costly research that would otherwise be impossible to achieve with national means alone. Membership in international cooperation on infrastructures for research also represents a significant potential for technology transfer and may in the longer term have an impact on business and technology.

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 of international research organisations which are funded by government ministries.

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

Projects   Status

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

Halden Reactor project

in 1958












The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) was formed in 2002 by the research ministers of the EU member countries and associated countries, working together to develop a joint vision and a common strategy for research infrastructures. ESFRI has participants from all 28 member countries and the 11 associated countries to the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme. ESFRI’s mandate is to develop a strategic roadmap (ESFRI Roadmap) reflecting the needs for new or upgraded pan-European 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 and 2016. Even when Europe was suffering from economic crisis in 2008–2016, research infrastructures were given high priority both nationally and internationally. 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 too costly 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 for an office or legal entity that organises joint services. A majority of the research infrastructures on 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 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 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. Participation in international research infrastructures must be seen in the context of investment in research infrastructure located in Norway. This will ensure that only those projects with the highest quality and relevance to Norwegian research priorities will be granted funding. The Research Council of Norway prepares recommendations for Norwegian participation for the relevant sectoral ministries, which take the final decisions on Norway’s membership after each application round under the INFRASTRUKTUR initiative. So far Norway has entered into binding participation in 16 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 fifth call for proposals under the INFRASTRUKTUR initiative, in 2016, the Research Council awarded funding for and recommended Norwegian membership in two more research infrastructures 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 who fill 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 of these infrastructures, and it is Norway, not a Norwegian R&D institution, that is a member of the respective international infrastructure.

Name Full name Status Project-marking

Societal Science and Humanities


Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure

ESFRI Roadmap NL host nation

ESSurvey ERIC*

European Social Survey

ESFRI Roadmap UK host nation



Council of European Social Science Data Archives


ESFRI Roadmap NO host nation



Natural Science and Technology



European Next Generation Incoherent Scatter radar

European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association

ESFRI Roadmap  SE host nation. Member in EISCAT since 1975




European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Infrastructure

ESFRI Roadmap NO host nation


European WindScanner Facility

ESFRI Roadmap (3)

Climate and Environment

EuroArgo ERIC*

European contribution to the Argo program

ESFRI Roadmap FR host nation



Integrated Carbon Observation System

ESFRI Roadmap  FI host nation



European Plate Observing System       

ESFRI Roadmap  IT host nation


Svalbard Integrated Artic Earth Observing System

ESFRI Roadmap    NO host nation


Biology and Medicine (Life Science)



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

ESFRI Roadmap
UK host nation



Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure

ESFRI Roadmap
AU host nation


European Advanced Translational Research Infrastructure in Medicine

ESFRI Roadmap
NL host nation


European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology

ESFRI Roadmap
DE host nation


European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network

ESFRI Roadmap
FR host nation


EuroBioImaging ERIC*

Research Infrastructure for Imaging Technologies in Biological and Biomedical Sciences

ESFRI Roadmap
FI/IT/DE host nations


Infrastructure for Systems Biology Europe

ESFRI Roadmap (3)

European Marine Biological Resource Centre

ESFRI Roadmap (3)

Infrastructure for Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems

ESFRI Roadmap (3)


European Spallation Source

ESFRI Roadmap
SE/DK host nations


European Synchrotron Radiation Facility - Extremely Brilliant Source

ESFRI Roadmap
FR host nation



* ESFRI project that is or will apply to become, 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 in the establishment and operation of pan-European research infrastructures. The ERIC regulation is incorporated into the EEA Agreement and the Norwegian ERIC-law was passed in the Storting on 10 November 2015.

(1) ESFRI projects in which Norway has entered into binding agreements. These projects are specifically highlighted in the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure.

(2) The Research Council has allocated funds after an ordinary application review process under INFRASTRUKTUR calls and has or will recommend to the Ministry of Education and Research and relevant sectorial ministries that Norway should participate in the ESFRI project. The national infrastructure has been specifically highlighted in the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure.

(3) ESFRI projects where Norway has not yet decided whether or not it will take part in the establishment activities. Norwegian research groups participate in the preparatory phase, but the Research Council has either not received an application to the INFRASTRUKTUR initiative about Norway's participation or the application assessment provided no basis for that project to be specifically highlighted in the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure.


Brief summary of the Research Council's policy for membership in international RI


Written by:
Translation: Darren McKellep/Carol B. Eckmann
Last updated: