EU funding to investigate the socio-economic impact of FAIR


Large research infrastructures like FAIR are built to answer fundamental questions about the nature of physics and the formation of the universe. They often are international projects, and their job is to carry out world class, excellent science. But they don’t operate in a vacuum. Their activities have impact on their regions and countries well beyond the science they do. The new CASEIA project has now received EU funding to measure this socio-economic influence.

FAIR’s socio-economic impact is the sum of the effects of the project on everyone and everything it has touched. Socio-economic impact refers to jobs for people in the Rhein-Main region, in Germany and abroad. It includes the education and training young people receive at FAIR under the mentorship of the master craftspeople in their workshops and from scientists and engineers. It means the impact of discoveries made at FAIR and GSI on innovative materials, medical treatments and energy. It includes, for example, positive effects through inventions like the energy efficient supercomputing center Green IT Cube at GSI/FAIR.

To measure and to prove these factors is a challenge. But FAIR is committed to finding ways to determine its socio-economic impact and to develop it positively. For this purpose, FAIR has received an EU grant to develop a methodology, with emphasis on the impact of innovation. The project is called CASEIA (Comparative Analysis of Socio-Economic Impact in ATTRACT), it will run until September 2024 and is funded with 120,000 €. CASEIA is part of ATTRACT that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. Leading the study consortium is Dr. Sonia Utermann (FAIR). The other consortium members are Steinbeis Research Center Technology Management North East(Rostock), the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Karlsruhe) and the Human Sciences Research Council (Stellenbosch, South Africa).

CASEIA aims for its findings to be relevant for future strategic innovation programming at FAIR and other large research infrastructures, and to establish methodologies transferrable to other fields of socio-economic impact. (CP)