E-RIHS preparatory phase kicks off

Under the gothic vaults of the Sala Capitolare of the Convento del Maglio in Florence, the Preparatory Phase of the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS PP) officially started today. The workshop, attended by more than 200 delegates, was opened by the President of the Italian Research Council, Massimo Ignuscio. Speaking at the workshop, the STFC representative Catherine Ewart stressed the importance of collaborative shared infrastructures for UK science and industry.

Within the preparatory phase, participants from 16 European countries will develop the scientific, organisational, training and legal aspects of the distributed infrastructure. This 3-year formal phase is supported by an EU H2020 grant (€4M) and is planned to lead towards the signature of an agreement establishing E-RIHS.

During the preparatory phase, national E-RIHS hubs will be developed in parallel. The founding parties of the UK hub (E-RIHS.uk) are in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding, following which the UK Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science will develop as a hub in its own right and as part of the wider European initiative, supporting the globally leading role that UK heritage science has.

E-RIHS.uk Launch

E-RIHS.uk is a distributed research infrastructure for heritage science in establishment.  As a UK infrastructure, as well as the UK hub of the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science, it will support the cross-disciplinary science of interpretation, management and conservation of cultural heritage.

Please read the Press Release at the occasion of the launch of the preparatory phase of E-RIHS in Florence, 29-31 March 2017.

The study and preservation of cultural and natural heritage is a global challenge for science. In the frame of the research infrastructure, access to state-of-the-art tools and services will be provided to cross-disciplinary users and communities. E-RIHS will connect arts and humanities and social science researchers with engineers and physical scientists, to foster a culture of exchange and cooperation. Through training, access, and international collaborative research, the infrastructure will play a cohesive role in the global community of heritage science.

European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science receives kick-start funding

The European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) and its UK part (E-RIHS.uk) supports cross-disciplinary research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management. As the first dedicated infrastructure of its kind, it consists of National Hubs and a Central Hub, supporting fixed and mobile national scientific infrastructures of recognized excellence, physically accessible collections/archives and virtually accessible heritage data.

Professor May Cassar, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, which is coordinating E-RIHS.uk, expressed optimism:

This recognition demonstrates the strength of this discipline as well as its strategic importance. Heritage science supports a range of UK sectors, such as museums generating  £1.5Bn p.a. income, while the conservation, repair and maintenance sector in England alone is  estimated at £4.7Bn. The sensors and instrumentation industry, supporting these activities, underpins a wide range of industrial activity with UK Sales amounting to £3Bn.

EU funding enables the 16 participating countries to develop the legal structure and the processes of access to research infrastructure, delivery of training, quality assurance as well as mobilise national heritage science communities.

Dr Ewan Hyslop, Head of Technical Research and Science, Historic Environment Scotland said:

It’s well documented that the effects of climate change present a serious, and increasing threat to heritage in Scotland, and it’s one of our organisation’s highest priorities to lead the sector in researching, understanding and addressing that impact. So today’s announcement comes as a timely and welcome boost.

Although the €4 million being announced today is of course a substantial financial investment, and serves to illustrate the extent of the problem being faced, perhaps the more encouraging aspect of today’s announcement is to see the formal commitment of some of the United Kingdom and Europe’s best and brightest organisations to pooling resources, sharing information and working together to tackle the challenges facing the sector.

The E-RIHS.uk partnership includes The British Museum, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, Historic Environment Scotland, Cardiff University, Diamond Light Source, ISIS Neutron Source, The National Gallery, Nottingham Trent University, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, University College London, University of Bradford, University of Brighton and University of York.

Background

The global lead that Europe holds in this research field has so far been supported by a combination of national and EU funding mechanisms, which now requires a collaborative, coordinated effort in order to maintain this lead. E-RIHS Central Hub will be sited in Florence, hosted by the Italian National Research Council and coordinated by Luca Pezzati (www.e-rihs.eu).