On 18 December 2013, ELIXIR enters its permanent phase as Estonia becomes the fifth country to ratify the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement. This marks the formal launch of the infrastructure for biological data in Europe, supporting life science research and its translation to medicine, the bioindustries and society. BBSRC, on behalf of the UK, was the first organisation to sign up to the agreement.
ELIXIR today becomes an independent legal entity as Estonia joins the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in ratifying the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement. ELIXIR aims to maximize the impact of big data in medicine, agriculture and the environment through the creation of a sustainable data infrastructure.
The ELIXIR Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by EMBL and 17 countries, including Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
At the launch of ELIXIR, prominent policy makers and scientists from ELIXIR member states and the European Commission underscore the importance of this research infrastructure to the future of Europe's life science sector.
Professor Søren Brunak of the Technical University of Denmark and Chair of the Interim ELIXIR Board says, "ELIXIR has been establishing strong partnerships throughout Europe, building on the core competencies of many different countries to establish a sustainable and forward-looking bioinformatics infrastructure for Europe's life science sector."
Professor Jackie Hunter, Chief Executive of the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, says, "Advances in bioscience are allowing us to capture vital data faster than ever before. In order to make use of the huge volumes of information to support world-leading science, economic growth, new jobs and improved wellbeing, we need a coordinated approach. The collaborative agreement represented by ELIXIR ensures that Europe has the capability to maximise impact through effectively storing, curating, managing, sharing and interpreting bioscience data."
Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General of the European Commission's Research and Innovation Directorate-General, says: "I am proud to see one of the flagship projects of the ESFRI Roadmap succeeding in establishing itself as a prominent pan-European infrastructure for biological and biomedical data. I am certain that ELIXIR will put Europe at the front edge of life sciences research by helping the scientific community to address grand health challenges and to find innovative solutions for medical care."
"Establishing ELIXIR, the truly distributed bioinformatics research infrastructure, is an important milestone for all involved," says Professor Jaak Aaviksoo, Minister of Education and Research, Estonia. "New technologies have led to an explosion in the global production of biological data. This new level of international collaboration to establish the technologies and systems to cope with the quantity and heterogeneity of data is most timely. I am happy to see that Estonian expertise in biological data management and analysis will contribute fully to a wider European infrastructure and, in turn, look forward to seeing the benefit this brings to Estonian life sciences."
"The need for data storage and for expertise in bio-information science is expected to increase further, and this in turn requires solid research infrastructure in order to avoid bottleneck effects," says Juni Palmgren, Secretary General of the Council for Research Infrastructures, the Swedish Research Council. "European researchers must cooperate to be able to handle the increased data volumes."
Professor Ron Appel, Executive Director of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, says, "Collaboration, as well as sharing expertise and resources, must more than ever be our leitmotifs if we want to reach major breakthroughs in life science research. Since its inception 15 years ago, the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics has made collaboration the backbone of its activities. I am looking forward to the implementation of ELIXIR, which will give a new dimension to European collaboration and open the door to the future of science."
Professor Dalibor Štys, Minister for Education, Czech Republic, says, "The Czech Republic supports ELIXIR as one of Europe's key research infrastructures for life sciences. Such infrastructures are becoming increasingly important in leading to fundamental discoveries in science and helping us unravel the secrets of nature. ELIXIR will facilitate the sharing of data and will ensure the benefits of research carried out in individual collaborative grants can be preserved and shared with other users. I particularly look forward to seeing the results of ELIXIR benefit society and industry."
Professor Dame Janet Thornton, Director of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and coordinator of ELIXIR's preparatory phase, says, "Europe's life science sector has reached a clear consensus that this sustainable infrastructure is absolutely necessary for the future of research. Now that ELIXIR has truly come into its own, I cannot wait to see the programme become a reality. The commitment of these nations underscores, once again, the importance of biological information to every citizen."
Notes to editors
ELIXIR ECA signatories
Czech Republic, Estonia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and EMBL.
All ELIXIR MoU signatories
Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and EMBL.
- ELIXIR founding ceremony and launch event - 18 December 2013
- ESFRI research infrastructures
- EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £467M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.