When science meets management

RItrain Master's course in research infrastructure management
The Research Infrastructure Training Programme (RItrain) is launching an executive Master’s course, specifically for managers of research infrastructures.

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Executive Master’s of Management of Research Infrastructures by RItrain offers new opportunities for leadership

Most people who lead major research infrastructure projects have scientific career backgrounds, with limited exposure to formal management or leadership training along the way. This often puts them in the difficult position of being motivated by science, but occupied with reconciling complex international budgets, teams and stakeholders.

To address this gap, the EU-funded Research Infrastructure Training Programme (RItrain) is launching a Master’s course for managers of research infrastructures. The course was developed by the University of Milano-Bicocca, with input from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). Tuition fees will be waived for the first run of this course set to start in September 2017. The course will comprise face-to-face and online activities, with a strong emphasis on knowledge exchange.

This is not just an academic exercise; it is a practical course that hopes to reconcile at least some of the conflicts between a scientific background and a management career

The University of Minho, EMBL-EBI, Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure – European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC) and the University of Milano-Bicocca describe the most coveted skills for research infrastructure management in a paper published in Trends in Microbiology. The paper offers a glimpse into how RItrain identified the existing training needs in this highly specialised field.

Research infrastructure management

Advanced technologies underpin much of modern research, and are constantly changing. To keep them up and running, Europe supports more than 50 publicly funded research infrastructures. These include high-profile organisations, such as CERN, the European Space Agency and EMBL, and many newer entities, including ELIXIR and EuroBioImaging.

Although each one is different, these entities have certain things in common. Perhaps the most notable mutuality is that they function across borders, answer to a wide range of stakeholders and combine many different legal and cultural systems.

It is this unique combination of differences and similarities that makes knowledge exchange crucial for effective research infrastructure management.
Research infrastructure managers also have a shared goal: facilitating the next generation of discoveries in the arts, humanities and sciences. To facilitate this, the RItrain Master’s course provides the perfect environment for sharing best practice and discussing potential improvements. Trainees will explore these topics through online webinars, face-to-face meetings and staff exchanges at different levels, including senior management.

The research infrastructure management Master’s programme aims to help participants develop or refine the core management competencies needed to steward a public research infrastructure. These include:

  • Governance and organisation
  • Financial management and developing a sustainable funding model
  • Leadership and team building in an RI context
  • Service provision
  • Business development and innovation
  • Awareness raising

Knowledge exchange is the key

“When there is no theory available, we learn from practice,” explains Cath Brooksbank, Head of the EMBL-EBI Training Programme. “This is not just an academic exercise; it is a practical course that hopes to reconcile at least some of the conflicts between a scientific background and a management career. The RItrain Master’s course will tease out and share best practice and expertise across a range of research sectors.”

What are research infrastructures?
Research infrastructures are facilities, resources and services that the science community uses to conduct research and foster innovation. Research infrastructures include major scientific equipment, collections, archives or scientific data, e-infrastructures and communication networks. As a result, research infrastructures enable the greatest discoveries in science and technology, attract researchers from around the world and build bridges between research communities.
Read more about research infrastructures