When science meets management

Executive Master's in research infrastructure management

When science meets management

30 Mar 2017 - 12:26

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 an executive Master’s course, specifically for managers of research infrastructures. The course was developed by the University of Milano-Bicocca, with input from the other RItrain partners, including the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). Tuition fees will be waived for the first run of this course, which will start in September 2017 and will comprise both face-to-face and online activities, with a strong emphasis on knowledge exchange.

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 managers in a paper published in Trends in Microbiology. The paper offers a glimpse into how RItrain identified the existing knowledge gaps and training needs in this highly specialised field.

      What are research infrastructures?

Research infrastructures are facilities, resources and services that the science community uses to conduct research and foster innovation. They include major scientific equipment, collections, archives or scientific data, e-infrastructures and communication networks. 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.

A new kind of Master’s programme

Advanced technologies underpin much of modern research, and are constantly changing. To give scientists access to these latest technologies, Europe supports more than 50 publicly funded research infrastructures. These include intergovernmental organisations, such as CERN, the European Space Agency, EMBL and ELIXIR, as well as interinstitutional ones, such as EuroBioImaging.

Although each one is different, these entities have certain things in common – perhaps most notably that they function across borders, answer to a wide range of stakeholders and combine many different legal and cultural systems. RItrain hopes the new Master’s course will encourage knowledge exchange and sharing best practice between research infrastructure managers.

In turn, this should help infrastructure managers achieve their shared goal: facilitating the next generation of discoveries in the arts, humanities and sciences. 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 Master’s programme aims to help participants develop and 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 research infrastructure 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.”

Discover more

Source article: PATTERSON, R.R. M., et al. (2017). Microbiology Managers: Managerial Training in the RItrain Project. Trends in Microbiology. Published online 25 03; DOI: 10.1016/j.tim.2017.03.002

Find out more about the Executive Master’s in Management of Research Infrastructures

Download the Master’s flyer from the RItrain website

Want to explore other degree courses with EMBL-EBI? We are working with the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Cambridge, the Sanger Institute and Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses to offer an MSt in Genomic Medicine, tailored for NHS professionals who are interested in how genomic information can be used as part of the diagnostic and treatment pathway.

Contact the news team

Vicky Hatch | Communications Officer


Oana Stroe | Senior Communications Officer


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