Towards a European research infrastructure for heritage science
The EU project IPERION-HS (2020–2023) is preparing the establishment of a permanent European research infrastructure for heritage science under the name E-RIHS. Extensive preparations have already been made in previous projects. This is the first time a Norwegian partner participates in the consortium. The collaboration will help Norwegian institutions to establish their own national infrastructure.
IPERION-HS offers researchers access to collections, advanced analysis equipment and expertise at 52 facilities in Europe, such as isotope analysis, neutron accelerators and advanced image analysis equipment. The project will have two calls a year, and everyone who works with public cultural heritage can apply.
Since 2002, the European Council has promoted the establishment of European research structures in all disciplines through ESFRI processes. (ESFRI stands for European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures.) A successful ESFRI process results in the establishment of a (distributed) infrastructure in the form of an ERIC, an organization funded by contributions from participating countries. An already existing example of an ERIC in the humanities is the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA, https://www.cessda.eu/), for which Norway is the host country.
The initiative to establish an infrastructure heritage science is called European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS), and is led by the Italian Research Council (CNR). E-RIHS completed political and organizational preparations in its Preparatory Phase project in 2017–2020, and plans formal establishment in 2021/2022.
Opportunities for researchers
IPERION-HS and the prefvious project IPERION-CH prepare E-RIHS in a more applied way: the partners develop criteria and quality assurance procedures for national facilities to be part of the European infrastructure, data management routines and access procedures. As practical exercises in transnational access, IPERION offers project-funded use of research facilities, such as laboratories, at project partners. Access is granted after a call for proposals and review of the proposals. Researchers from all non-commercial Norwegian institutions can apply for the use of facilities and expertise at IPERION partners abroad. The first call for proposals will be published in September, 2020.
In the wake of the European initiative, national research infrastructures have been established in the participating countries, often with parallel organisation and similar functions. An established national infrastructure is a prerequisite for a country to participate in E-RIHS.
UiO-KHM participates in IPERION-HS on behalf of, and as coordinator of, the cultural heritage field throughout Norway. This is the first time a Norwegian institution formally participates in an E-RIHS initiative. The experience gained at the European level and at national level in other countries helps us to establish a Norwegian distributed infrastructure for cultural heritage research. Through IPERION we gain access to both networks and documentation. By participating in some of the project's working groups, the research community in Norway becomes better acquainted with E-RIHS, which Norway can eventually become part of.
Our share in IPERION finances a few months' work at KHM for coordination, research and e-infrastructure. In addition, we can support researchers from all Norwegian institutions participating in IPERION's activities with reimbursement of travel expenses and the like. We therefore encourage interested researchers from all cultural heritage partners to study IPERION's website and project description, and report interest to [email@example.com].