On Friday July 5, 2013, I visited the workshop Research Infrastructures towards 2020 organized by the EuroRisNet+ project, in Lisbon, Portugal. I also gave a presentation there on CLARIAH and, as requested by the organizers, the organizational challenges it has experienced and is still to face in the context of the National Roadmap for Large Scale Infrastructures.
Interest in this workshop was very high, so high that first a new venue had to be sought to accommodate as many participants as possible, and second, when also this venue was full, it was decided to do a live streaming of the event over the internet (see here for the recording). And all of this while the temperatures in Lisbon rose close to 40 degrees Celsius and a beach would have been a much more attractive option than a workshop on research infrastructures in a hot and busy city!
The main reason for the large interest can probably be traced to the fact that for the first time a call was launched for the Portuguese National Roadmap for Large Scale Infrastructures. But it cannot be the only reason because there were also many attendants from other countries. It is clear that research infrastructures are “hot” and I believe that many expect to obtain funding for their work via infrastructure funds. The EuroRisNet+ project made an inventory of research infrastructure projects which contains almost 300 entries, and the MERIL database contains over 300!
The launch of the Portuguese National Roadmap was a bit of a disappointment, since the procedure was not very clearly defined, there were no clearly defined criteria for evaluation, and no concrete figures for a budget were mentioned (these are expected in about three weeks). Portugal will use European FP7 structural funds to fund this and this implies that the procedure must have finished by this year. The Portuguese CLARIN people (e.g. Antonio Branco) are ready to submit a proposal, and I met some others who will submit a proposal related to DARIAH, so let’s wish them success with their applications!
From the perspective of the Netherlands, two presentations given there are of special importance. The presentation of Philippe Froissard (Deputy Head of Unit, Research Infrastructures, European Commission) sketched the plans for research infrastructures in Horizon 2020, including concrete budget figures. And second, the presentation of Cas Maessen (NWO) sketched the history of the Netherlands National Roadmap but also considerations and on-going discussions for the future of this roadmap. These, and the other presentations of this event, are on-line and can be found here.
In my presentation one of the challenges I mentioned had to do with IPR: how can we get easy and legal access to contemporary textual and audio-visual resources that are copy-right protected. Of course, I did not have a solution for this. Neither did I expect one from the audience. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find an message in my e-mailbox early in the morning with a link to a speech by Neelie Kroes held at LT-Innovate one week earlier, in which, talking about text and data mining, she states that she is “determined to reform the copy-right system to capture the opportunities of the digital age, if necessary including legislative reform”. This is not a solution yet, but at least the problem is addressed at the highest levels in the European Commission!
Temperatures rose even higher in the weekend after the workshop, so the only rational thing to do was to spend my time during these days on the beach and in the (actually quite cold) Atlantic Ocean .