Big science has big benefits

The CFI co-leads international policy report on operating very large research infrastructures

OTTAWA, ONT. — A new research policy report released today highlights the value major science initiatives have in bringing benefits to Canada and countries around the globe. The report, released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Science Forum, offers suggestions to enhance the creation, funding, operation and strategic planning of what are known as Very Large Research Infrastructures (VLRI).

The report offers advice on establishing VLRI, the unique and complex infrastructure projects that have a strong international dimension and play a critical role in research in most scientific domains. It outlines options for improving their use and operation, and more strategic considerations for planning future large-scale projects.

Co-written by Heidi Bandulet, Associate Director of Research Facilities at the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and international experts on research infrastructure, the report also suggests that most countries could benefit from having national research strategies to help guide their public investments in VLRI in key research fields.

Canada’s VLRI include the particle accelerator centre, TRIUMF, in Vancouver, and the CCGS Amundsen research icebreaker based in Quebec City. These types of projects require care in their construction and operation and involve large investments and technological innovations. Recent changes in the political, socioeconomic and scientific context are challenging how VLRI are currently established and managed. The new report aims to guide stakeholders with best practices to optimize the creation and operation of VLRI to help enhance critical research collaborations around the globe.

Representatives from the CCGS Amundsen, ARICE (an Arctic research icebreaker consortium), the Canadian Space Agency, TRIUMF and the CFI shared their best practices in the governance, management and operation of large research infrastructures for the report.

Quick facts

  • The OECD Global Science Forum (GSF) is a working group of the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy. Its main objective is to support countries in improving their science policies and sharing the benefits of international collaboration.
  • The report, titled Very Large Research Infrastructures: Policy issues and options is based on an analysis of publicly available documents and additional information collected from an expert group representing organizations in 16 OECD countries in addition to the Group of Senior Officials on Global Research Infrastructures, Science Europe and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures.
  • The report was written by the OECD GSF Expert Group co-chairs: Heidi Bandulet, Associate Director of Research Facilities at the CFI, and Willy Benz, Director of the National Center for Competence in Research PlanetS. Paul Dufour, Principal of PaulicyWorks served as project consultant and the GSF Expert Group members provided extensive input.
  • Representatives from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the Hyper-Kamiokande neutrino observatory in Japan and the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope project in Australia and South Africa, of which Canada is an official member, also contributed data.

Quick links

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