Europe actively supports an innovative way of conducting scientific research by the creation of a new environment for academic and industrial research in which 'virtual communities' share, federate and exploit the collective power of European scientific facilities. 'Infrastructure' refers to this new research environment in which all researchers - whether working in the context of their home institutions or as part of national or multinational scientific initiatives - have shared access to unique or distributed scientific facilities (including data, instruments, computing and communications), regardless of their type and location in the world.

Europe has built a world-class operational communication and computing infrastructure to facilitate scientific research. This Infrastructure provides scientists throughout Europe with very high-speed communication networks and powerful computing middleware tools that foster collaboration and promote the shared use of expensive computing and data resources.

Current Infrastructure initiatives, such as GÉANT, EGI, PRACE enhance European research and development potential by rationalising investments in expensive scientific resources.

Leading edge Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) play a strategic role in changing the way scientists and engineers will work in the future. Networked research communities share computing platforms and advanced applications running next generation protocols.

Such innovative work practices are revolutionising research in fields as diverse as astronomy, business, aeronautics and environment.

Scientific communities in disciplines from molecular biology to astrophysics and educational sciences are already actively using the services currently provided by Infrastructure.

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