Newsletter, Issue 1 July 2018

About the project


The mission of RI-PATHS project is to give funders and managers of research infrastructures (RIs) the tools to assess their impact on the economy and contribution to society. RI-PATHS aims to develop a model describing the socio-economic impact of research infrastructures and their related financial investments. The design of the model will reflect the specificities of RIs taking into account their mission, type and phase of development. The work will be carried out in a participatory manner engaging RIs in a co-design of the impact assessment model. The project outcomes are expected to contribute to a more common approach at international level and facilitate investments in RIs by funding agencies and other stakeholders.

Specific objectives are:

  • Take stock of the existing approaches for impact assessment of research infrastructures and identify future data needs
  • Design a modular impact assessment model that covers all main impact pathways of research infrastructures
  • Define a set of core indicators, provide guidance and pilot the impact assessment model with research infrastructures.
“It has never been the purpose to use the model for investment decisions. The purpose is also not to design a benchmark tool for research infrastructures. The purpose is to provide a narrative on impact. It has to be both qualitative and quantitative.” Keji Alex Adunmo, European Commission

Project timeline

The first eight months of the project are devoted to assessing the state of the art in impact assessment of research infrastructures, identifying future data needs and developing an initial impact assessment model. From October 2018 until September 2019 dedicated participatory workshops with RI stakeholders are planned to co-design and validate the key impact pathways of the model. The validated model will be piloted with partner RIs. The learning from the piloting exercises will be taken up in the design of the final methodological handbook and a web-based impact assessment guide.


The project consortium draws together a broad portfolio of competences in relevance to impact assessment of research infrastructures, including innovation and systems research, in-depth experience with various impact assessment methodologies such as cost-benefit analysis, impact pathway methods and other quantitative and qualitative approaches. The consortium members hold an important track record in socio-economic impact assessment and have been advising policy makers on planning and evaluation of research infrastructures. Moreover, the consortium has direct access to information on the overall research infrastructure community in Europe.

“EFIS team has a longstanding experience working with RIs and developing guidance material for scoping their socio-economic impact. Our mission is to develop innovative concepts, methods and techniques that are directly applicable by relevant policy communities. The RI-PATHS project presents an exciting challenge to apply our insights and systems thinking approaches to help cut through the complexity of the topic and develop a practical tool-box for RI managers and policy makers.”
“After many years of research and practice on the topic of socio-economic impact assessment of traditional infrastructures, CSIL researchers were eager to explore new avenues by investigating the application of socio-economic impact assessment methods to RIs. The RI-PATHS project provides the opportunity to develop and structure our past efforts by confronting with world class scholars and practitioners in the field. The challenge is intriguing, and we are enthusiastic to provide our contribution.”
“The involved researchers from Fraunhofer ISI have on several earlier occasions published extensively on the socio-economic embeddedness of universities and public research organisations and developed new conceptual frameworks to track different pathways and channels through which impacts materialise. As employees of one of Europe's largest public research organisations, moreover, they have themselves been extensively involved in considerations within their own organisation - that is by mission designed to achieve the highest possible socio-economic impact. Against this background, they were deeply interested in an opportunity to extend applying their existing competence and experience with impact assessments to the subject of RIs that they had so far less directly worked on.”
“As an intergovernmental organisation, we increasingly need to support our Members in demonstrating the socio-economic impact of public investment in research infrastructure. We are delighted that ELIXIR, a distributed research infrastructure for the Life Sciences, will be a case-study in the RI-PATHS project.” Dr Niklas Blomberg, ELIXIR Director
"CERN participates through the FCC study for a post-LHC particle collider, as a pivotal case study that builds on CERN’s long-standing leadership in particle physics and the successful planning and operation of large-scale research infrastructures. Moreover, CERN's participation bring in lessons from the current work for LHC and HL-LHC, that resulted in a set of tools and refined CBA methods that also apply to other research infrastructures."
"As part of the LEAPS alliance, wherein all European accelerator-based photon sources are joining efforts to develop a common strategy, ALBA aims at understanding further impact assessment and contributing first-hand to the development of a robust and flexible tool, which could eventually be used by the whole LEAPS community.”

Advisory Board

RI-PATHS Advisory Board is an external group of five experts consisting of policy makers, funders, research infrastructure managers and evaluation experts in different areas of relevance to the project. The role of these high-level experts is to provide knowledgeable insights to the conceptual and methodological developments, to challenge conventional thinking on crucial aspects of the project and to help the project team by pointing them to relevant sources of information and contacts.


Typology of research infrastructures

The RI-PATHS team under the leadership of CSIL has developed a Working Note on RI typology. This working note suggests a functional taxonomy of RIs to be reflected in the socio-economic impact assessment model. For further information read the full document on RI-PATHS website: click here.

After reviewing the existing relevant classifications of RIs, the project team proposes a categorisation based on the type of research/service a RI delivers. The classification distinguishes between RIs that carry out research (basic, use-inspired and applied research) and RIs that deliver research-oriented services. The main rationale for adopting this classification is that such taxonomy can be useful to capture causal mechanisms that explain why and how an investment in RIs generates and contributes to socio-economic changes.

While theoretically it may be of great value, the taxonomy needs to be tested on real cases for final validation. The RI-PATHS project team invites you to read the working note and provide feedback on the proposed RI taxonomy by writing to contact@ri-paths.eu.

Stakeholder engagement process

From October 2018 until September 2019, RI-PATHS will convene a series of participatory workshops for research infrastructure stakeholders to co-design and validate the impact assessment model. The aim of these workshops is to make stakeholder assumptions explicit and elaborate logical chains on how various socio-economic impacts emerge from the investment in RIs and how these impacts diffuse over time and across boundaries. This effort will improve the understanding of the socio-economic effects in the identified gap areas and will serve as a basis for charting key impact pathways for each distinct type of RI.

If you are interested in taking part in this co-design process, follow our news (www.ri-paths.eu; @RI_PATHS) or write us directly to contact@ri-paths.eu.

Survey on assessing RIs’ socio-economic impacts

The RI-PATHS team has launched an online survey “Assessing the socio-economic impacts of investments in Research Infrastructures (RIs)”. The aim of the survey is to gather evidence on the existing practices and needs for carrying out socio-economic impact assessments of RIs.

The deadline for completing the questionnaire is 15th July 2018.

No quantitative or sensitive data will be requested. Responses will be handled in the strictest confidence and will only be used as aggregates for the purposes of this H2020 funded project. Please forward the link to the survey to any person you find eligible to participate.

For further inquiries please contact Ms. Emily DeYoung Becker: ripaths@esf.org or +33 3 88 76 71 00.

Calendar of events

Past events where RI-PATHS project was presented

  • 2ND ERIC FORUM MEETING (19-20 March 2018, Oxford, UK)
  • ELIXIR ALL HANDS MEETING (4-7 June 2018, Berlin, Germany)
The RI-PATHS project was presented at the 4th ELIXIR All Hands Meeting, as part of an interactive workshop seeking the views and input of ELIXIR Nodes on the topic of demonstrating the impact of their research infrastructure. Participants took part in a scoping exercise during which they brainstormed impact scenarios (target audience, named service, possible measures of impact). Impact assessment at Node-level was found to be a developing area of work for most Nodes, with notable exceptions (e.g. https://beagrie.com/static/resource/EBI-impact-report.pdf). ELIXIR, Europe's research infrastructure for the Life Science, is hence enthusiastic about taking part in the RI-PATHS project

Upcoming events with RI-PATHS participation

  • EUROSCIENCE OPEN FORUM (9-13 July 2018, Toulouse, France) Learn more
  • ICRI 2018 – 4TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES (12-14 September 2018, Vienna, Austria) Learn more
  • RI-PATHS PROJECT MANAGEMENT BOARD MEETING (17 September 2018, Brussels, Belgium)
  • RI-PATHS 1st ADVISORY BOARD MEETING (18 September 2018, Brussels, Belgium)
  • DI4R CONFERENCE (9-11 October 2018, Lisbon, Portugal) Learn more

More information on RI-PATHS project and events on our website:


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