TLNet: the backbone of NFFA-Europe
The Technical Liaison Network (TLNet) is the backbone of NFFA-Europe, providing technical information across the NFFA-Europe multi-platform research infrastructure. The TLNet supports the full lifecycle of user proposals, from first explorative contact by the user to data management. The TLNet gives feedback to requests and questions by users and liaises with contact scientists and specific instruments.
The TLNet tasks are the assessment on the technical feasibility of the proposals and the assignment to the best suited NFFA-Europe sites according to technical requirements and availability and overall optimisation. A mechanism similar to the peer review system of an editorial board is used to rapidly obtain technical responses from the NFFA installations and the best solution for the user is setup.
The TLNet concept has been recently presented at the RICH2020 (Research infrastructure Consortium for Horizon 2020) symposium held in Lisbon on May 2017 as a good practice to manage complex access to a multi-platform distributed research infrastructure.
For each proposal, a discussion on the Forum is created for sketching out the access scheduling and, in case, for debating feasibility issues.
An ICT platform allows the TLNet to get a full overview of all the proposals, where technical comments and access status are updated and shared among the 14 Transnational Access sites. As each single proposal typically involves many providers, and very often different countries, a single communication channel between users and providers has been identified in the Forum: for each proposal, a discussion on the Forum is created for sketching out the access scheduling and, in case, for debating feasibility issues. In such a way, a disordered exchange of communications between user and single providers is avoided, and a participated technical feedback is achieved where the full set of the requested competences intervenes for each one of the user projects. Such a wide technical participation drives a reciprocal technical awareness among the NFFA-EU sites, improving the technical capability as a whole team. The Forum, as single communication channel also guarantees quality in terms of reliability and transparency of all the access procedures.
The Forum and a specific one-stop-shop addressed to industries will be open to potential users
Very soon the Forum will be open to potential users by making it available on the nffa.eu web portal and allowing everybody to ask for technical advice provided by a team of experts, before a submission of a complete proposal and just on the basis of ideas of scientific or technological relevance.
In similar way, a specific one-stop-shop addressed to industries and in particular to SMEs, combining the Forum and some direct contacts, will be soon made “clickable” on the website. The full technical offer, but also the different access modes, from open access to proprietary research, passing through feasibility tests, and the related confidentiality issues, will be discussed and quickly translated in proposals submission or service contracts.