European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science receives kick-start funding
28 March 2017
Heritage science, the science of cultural heritage, has received €4M to support the development of a distributed European research infrastructure, with its UK arm being one of the cornerstones.
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 12 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. Professor Matija Strlic, the UK coordinator of the EU project explains: “This funding will enable us to develop mechanisms for access to laboratories and expertise, not just in universities but also in heritage institutions, thus enabling more efficient use of cross-disciplinary research resources. The UK will lead the development of the E-RIHS Academy, a training resource. As a leading heritage science community with a history of collaborative research, we are well positioned to do so.”
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.
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).
Alexander Blackburn, Communications Manager
UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage
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