The European Commission granted the legal status of European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) to the e-Science and Technology European Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research (LifeWatch).
Its mission is to advance Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research and to provide major contributions to addressing the big environmental challenges (e.g. Climate Change), including knowledge-based solutions to environmental managers for its preservation, by providing access through a pan-European distributed e-Infrastructure to a multitude of sets of data, services and tools enabling the construction and operation of Virtual Research Environments (Virtual Laboratories & Decision-support Applications) where specific issues related with biodiversity, and ecosystem research and preservation are addressed through the execution of integrated models at the meso or higher scales.
This Environmental "Big Data" e-Infrastructure constitutes a new approach by offering to its users:
a) A working environment with unlimited computational and cloud capacity;
b) Transparency of the research process at all stages (from data collection and interoperability to the interpretation of the results);
c) And generic applications which allow multidisciplinary research and the development of the "trading zones" between them.
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.
Based in Seville (Andalusia region), in Spain, LifeWatch was established by eight full-member countries: Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain, and other six as observer members initially.
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 setting up of this infrastructure through FP7, its research funding programme running from 2007 to 2013. In addition, it also integrates "in kind" contributions based on the use of Structural Funds based on National/Regional Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialization (RIS3), with the goal of promoting the long-term competitiveness of European Research Infrastructures.