Research infrastructure forum chair John Womersley talks priorities for 2020
European Research Infrastructure Consortia are less well-known than their importance warrants—something John Womersley (pictured), the new chair of the ERIC Forum, hopes to change. “There is a bit of a visibility gap around research facilities,” he tells Research Europe. Womersley, a particle physicist, is hoping to raise the forum’s profile and make its ERICs, which range from particle accelerators to social surveys, “super cool” in the public eye.
The ERIC legal framework was introduced in 2009 to enable research infrastructures of European importance to benefit from a VAT waiver and their own procurement rules. Being an ERIC gives “practical tax benefits and sustainability at governmental level”, but also prestige, says Womersley. However, individual ERICs remained isolated entities until 2019, when the forum was created. Now, all 21 infrastructure consortia granted ERIC status are members.