The purpose of the foresight study is to assist in developing an internationally challenging Dutch roadmap for ‘Large-scale Research Facilities'.
In 2016, the Academy intends publishing its ‘Agenda for Large-scale Research Facilities’. The Agenda will describe which large-scale research facilities will be necessary in the distant future – around or after 2025 – to undertake innovative research at the forefront of knowledge, thereby contributing to the positioning of high-powered Dutch research groups in international science. The explicit aim is to study ideas for facilities that are still in the early stages of development or exploration, and not facilities that may be added to the national or European roadmap in the near future.
Large-scale research facilities are important for scientific progress and to support disciplines. The necessary investment requires us to take the long view, make unambiguous choices, and plan carefully. The Academy would like to help generate ideas by inspiring researchers in the Netherlands to develop plans for setting up and operating large-scale research facilities. It is the Academy’s hope that Dutch researchers will share their wishes and ambitions concerning the large-scale research facilities of the future.
What counts as a large-scale research facility naturally differs from one discipline to the next. In one they may be large telescopes or measuring equipment; in another they may be facilities for accessing archives and collections. What these facilities have in common is that they are so expensive or complex that no single university can fund or operate them on its own, making national, European or even global cooperation a necessity.
In the spring of 2015, the ‘Large-scale Research Facilities’ committee called on researchers to send in their ideas for ‘dream’ facilities. To spur them on and encourage cooperation, it organised two brainstorming sessions at which attendees could present their ideas. This resulted in 48 brief descriptions of potential facilities across all areas of science. Of these, the committee asked 27 researchers to work up a proposal based on their ideas. Because there were synergies between various proposals, the committee urged those submitting them to develop a joint proposal. The committee also organised meetings to facilitate this process.
The committee is now reviewing the proposals and assessing their suitability for the Agenda for Large-scale Research Facilities.
The Academy expects to present the Agenda for Large-scale Research Facilities in October 2016.