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New European 'Big Data' e-infrastructure to support biodiversity research

Brussels, 17 March 2017

The European Commission today granted the legal status of European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) to the e-Science and Technology European Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research (LifeWatch). With this measure, the EU provides the facility with many administrative advantages enjoyed by international organisations and therefore helps to successfully implement the infrastructure project.

LifeWatch aims to advance biodiversity and ecosystem research and to provide major contributions to addressing big environmental challenges such as climate change by providing access through a pan-European distributed e-infrastructure to large sets of data, services and tools that enable the creation of virtual laboratories and decision-support applications. Thanks to these virtual research environments, specific issues related to biodiversity and ecosystem research and preservation are addressed through the implementation of integrated models.

LifeWatch ERIC constitutes a new approach by offering to its users:

  • a working environment with unlimited computational and cloud capacity;
  • transparency of the research process at all stages (from data collection and interoperability to the interpretation of the results);
  • and generic applications which allow multidisciplinary research and the development of the “trading zones” between them.

Based in Seville, LifeWatch is the first ERIC infrastructure hosted by Spain. It was established by eight countries: Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.

LifeWatch ERIC is the 14th European Research Infrastructure Consortium established and is the fourth ERIC in the environment sciences area after Euro-Argo ERIC (a European infrastructure examining the role of oceans in the global climate system), EMSO ERIC (European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water Column Observatory) and ICOS ERIC (Integrated Carbon Observation System).

The EU has contributed €5 million of funding to support the Preparatory Phase of setting up of this infrastructure through FP7, its research funding programme running from 2007 to 2013.