Thematic Centre for Mountain Ecosystem Services, Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence

LifeWatch ERIC, together with the University of Granada, has announced a Thematic Centre for Mountain Ecosystem Services, Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence, in Sierra Nevada, Spain. Positioning as a worldwide leader, the Centre will address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity and sustainable management in high mountain ecosystems. 

On 3 July, 2019, a pre-agreement was signed between LifeWatch ERIC and two Granada-based groups of excellence, The International Research Institute of the Earth System in Andalusia (CEAMA) and the Andalusian Interuniversity Institute in Data Science and Computational Intelligence (DaSCI), with the support of the Granada delegation. The European Commission expects that this agreement will provide solutions to support improved decision-making by public administrations and the entire population in crucial areas like environmental management, water resources, agriculture, health and quality of life.

The leaders and coordination team of LifeWatch ERIC, CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, and CTO-Technological Director, Juan Miguel González Aranda, finalised the agreement in a meeting in Granada with Enrique Herrera Viedma, Vice-Rector of Research and Technology Transfer of the University of Granada and director of the DaSCI – one of the most prestigious computer and artificial intelligence groups in Spain – and with Lucas Alados Arboledas and Regino Zamora Rodríguez, director and principal investigator, respectively, of CEAMA, considered a reference in the environmental sciences.

The potential of this model of collaboration – putting together three parties to pioneer a new paradigm for research infrastructures – is an example which other companies, institutions and social entities can look to for reference. Christos Arvanitidis, Juan Miguel González Aranda and Enrique Herrera Viedma then held a round table discussion at Alhambra Venture, a business promotion and investors event, where they also announced their collaboration with other entrepreneurship networks focused on combating climate change, according to Climate KIC-EIT Spain and Iberia director, José Luis Muñoz.

The great challenge linked to the establishment of the Centre is to learn to take advantage of Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence to solve the major challenges of sustainability that humanity is facing: climate change, resource supplies, agriculture and biodiversity conservation, with a special focus on mountain ecosystems as a case study.  At the University of Granada, the development of intelligent decision support systems for the management of ecosystems is already under way, through a combination of the Internet of Things, drones and satellite images, and analysing data from sensors located in the wild but also in small rural municipalities.  

For example, AI can be used to develop models for the prediction of desertification zones and deforestation through satellite images, to model the evolution of flora and fauna populations, and to help the implementation of circular economy processes. LifeWatch ERIC will also provide its LifeBlock system as a ‘blockchain’ platform to which the future Thematic Centre in Sierra Nevada will be added as a pilot project to guarantee the traceability of data and share all the technologies that are applied in green entrepreneurship.

European Researchers’ Night

September is a busy month in the LifeWatch ERIC calendar, not only for the many scientific congresses, but also because of the increased outreach to the general public, students and families in particular, to interest them in the science behind biodiversity and ecosystem research. Within the framework of the European Researchers’ Night, on 27 September 2019, events were staged in member countries to highlight the impact of research on our daily lives.

As a record 7.6 million people took to the streets in Climate Strike protests around the world, universities, laboratories and museums across Europe were opening their doors to promote how scientific researchers contribute to society by displaying their work in interactive and engaging ways, with the ultimate aim of motivating young people to embark on research careers of their own. 

The LifeWatch Greece team participated in a European Researchers’ Night in the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Heraklion. Hundreds of people attended and had the opportunity to learn about marine research and aquatic biodiversity in different thematic pavilions and hands-on activities, including Virtual Reality, interactive games and demonstrations.

In Lecce, Italy, professors Alberto Basset (LifeWatch ERIC) and Giuseppe Corriero (LifeWatch Italy) joined “A Pint with Science”, an open event in a popular bar, talking about ‘Biodiversity Emergency, Objective Sustainability’ to a responsive crowd of followers on Thursday. 

The following day, LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre at the University of Salento opened its premises to young people and families, to play dedicated serious games on biodiversity and make enquiries about the infrastructure and its activities. Listening to videos of key scientists explaining how ecological science builds an understanding of the issues we face globally, visitors were guided to learn more about the key challenges ahead in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem research 

In the midst of popular calls to deal with current climate issues, these outreach events showcase the diversity of research, bring researchers closer to the public, mobilise citizens, and increase general awareness and understanding of how important research and innovation are in addressing societal challenges.

Azorean Biodiversity Portal

The Autonomous Region of the Azores is a remote archipelago consisting of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,360 km from the coast of Portugal. The Azorean Biodiversity Portal (ABP), a key infrastructure for the integrated management of biodiversity data in the Azores, is now associated with PORBIOTA, the building block of LifeWatch Portugal, and therefore with LifeWatch ERIC.

LifeWatch ERIC’s offer to its users will now been widened thanks to ABP and its opportunities. The 3,000 visits per day, the numerous international scientific collaborations, resulting in publications and academic theses, and the connection with other prestigious databases demonstrate the Portal’s value to the LifeWatch ERIC scientific community, as well as its general appeal.

Hosted by the University of Azores and funded 85/15 by European Regional Development Funds (FEDER) and Azorean public funds through Operational Program Azores 2020, the ABP provides an original platform for biogeographical and macroecological research on the islands, which are among the richest regions in Europe as regards fungi, plant and animal diversity. 

By fostering the mobilization of biodiversity data on a regional level, ABP stands as a valuable tool to raise awareness of biodiversity on a global scale and to promote the development of knowledge in this field and its dissemination.

ABP was the first Biodiversity Portal in Portugal when it was established in 2008, and provides not only taxonomic and occurrence data, but also images of most species in a temporal scope from as far back as 1,443. These days it is recognised as a valuable outreach, management and conservation tool for everyone working in the research and conservation of biodiversity. 

The Portal features over 2.4 million records of taxonomic distribution information on around 5,000 species, including 1,332,681 occurrences of plants, 1,051,476 of animals, and 24,258 of fungi. As such, it is a unique resource for fundamental research in systematics, biodiversity, education and conservation management in the Azores.

Hiring CFO

LifeWatch ERIC is hiring its Chief Financial Officer – Deadline for applications 1 December 2019

Please see the vacancy below.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Vacancy

Terms of reference

Job description

JOB TITLE: Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

PURPOSE: The CFO will shoulder responsibility on the LifeWatch ERIC financial and administrative activity.

LOCATION: LifeWatch ERIC Statutory Seat premises in Seville, Spain.

POSITION: Full-time, four-year term with a possible extension of another four years, starting from March the 1st, 2020, however the possibility to start as soon as January the 1st, 2020 would be greatly appreciated.

COMPENSATION: Competitive salary, commensurate to degrees and experience.

Main accountabilities

Role: The CFO always acts in her/his authority as member of the Executive Board, which deals with the implementation and management of the LifeWatch ERIC activities. In particular the LifeWatch ERIC CFO is involved in the following Tasks and Activities:

  • Preparation of Financial Statements: (a) Prepares monthly financial reports. S/he will maintain dutifully organized records of all financial activities of LifeWatch ERIC and compile a budget up-date at the end of each month, as well as annually, and/or upon request. The reports will typically detail the inflows and outflows of cash, as well as other assets (for example, in-kind contribution resources). (b) Bears responsibility for keeping all the documentation that supports the figures contained in the report, such as invoices and receipts, for auditing purposes; (c) Certifies that: (i) the financial management of the common facilities is ensured, (ii) the 15% minimum in cash contribution of the members is transferred to to the bank account of LW ERIC and (iii) members which decide to allocate part or all of their in-kind contributions to their Distributed LifeWatch Centres, as long as the financial management of the Common Facilities is ensured, they have paid their 15% minimum in cash contribution, which is transferred to the bank account of LifeWatch ERIC.
  • Accounts Management: (a) Keeps true and accurate accounts of all income and expenditure, is in charge of supervising the reception of money relating to the accounts receivables of the organization, such as membership fees, project grants, service payment, etc.; (b) Shoulders responsibility on paying the organization’s liabilities such as supplier’s services, insurance premiums, and other accounts payables; (c) Attends to the financial administration needs of LifeWatch ERIC projects, such as EU H2020 grants.
  • Management of LifeWatch ERIC suppliers and sub-contractors: As a small structure, LifeWatch ERIC has a number of administrative tasks performed by external suppliers and subcontracts, such as legal advice and accounting. The CFO manages these subcontractors and ensures that they are deployed in the most efficient manner in support of LifeWatch ERIC.
  • Procurement and Tendering: Is responsible for respecting the procurement and tendering policies of LifeWatch ERIC. S/he is in charge of preparing the procurement documents for interfacing with external suppliers to produce service requests. The CFO produces then after procurement documents, and approves procurement requests and cash disbursements and reflect all the company transactions in a cash-flow statement, which s/he regularly reconciles to keep track of the money.
  • Budgeting: The CFO prepares the annual budget of LW ERIC, in close collaboration with the Executive Board, after s/he receives recommendations from the Financial Committee and the final approval of the General Assembly of LifeWatch ERIC, which may include details such as allocation of Human Resources time, based on the agreed requirements of the organization.
  • Auditing: (a) Establishes internal controls, including internal audits, to enhance the effective and efficient use of the resources; (b) Has the accounts of LW ERIC examined every year by auditors appointed by the General Assembly and their written report circulated to all members accompanied by comments of CEO and by any of the members of the Executive Board.
  • Other administrative responsibilities: (a) Supports the preparation and oversee the execution of contracts, both financially and administration aspects, and in liaison with other
  • LifeWatch ERIC Officers, LifeWatch Members, the EC and other funding agencies, suppliers, clients, among others; (b) Is responsible on the finances and related administrative procedures, so that they are compliant to the EU ERIC regulations; (c) Contributes to the definition of the financial space of LifeWatch ERIC and collects related socio-economic data and other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from the EMBRC partners, towards carrying SWOT analysis of LifeWatch ERIC at regular time intervals and in collaboration with the other Officers and Bodies; (c) Based on her/his experience on public sector administration practices, s/he acts as a liaison between the common facilities and distributed centers of the ERIC on such issues.

The ideal candidate should meet the following requirements

1. Minimum qualification: Graduation from a European University or equivalent experience;

2. Minimum five-year experience in similar position;

3. Excellent knowledge of written and spoken English;

4. Proven expert practice of private-sector, not-for-profit financial administration, for business accountability;

5. Proven expert practice of public Sector accounting systems and related financial regulations;

6. Experience in preparing budget, and reporting on expenses;

7. Excellent presentation and reporting skills, in writing and verbally;

8. Ability to deal responsibly with general administrative tasks;

9. IT skills: Command of MS Office package; familiar in working on web platforms dedicated to financial and administrative purposes;

10. Understanding of structure, functioning and regulation of the European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs);

11. Knowledge of EU projects financial administration and reporting needs;

12. Paralegal skills;

13. Cost-benefit analytical skills;

14. Quality system management (ISO 9001 or other business standards);

15. Data analysis skills for analytical reports; 16. Accountable and working transparently, and in close interaction with colleagues;

17. Good social skills and ability to function in a small dedicated team;

18. Excellent organizational skills;

19. Able to produce clear and high-quality output;

20. Able to work towards precise objectives under specific time constraints;

21. High-standard work ethics;

22. Willingness to cover some general administrative tasks to support the team’s needs;

23. Willingness to work overtime, which may be required to meet project deadlines;

24. Willingness for national and international travelling, which may be required for the purpose of meeting with project partners, stakeholders, etc. 

The vacancy is subject to the following procedure

  • A single PDF document, in English, containing: (a) A short application letter explaining your interest in this position and how you could contribute; (b) A Curriculum Vitae (EUROPASS format, 6 pages at most); (c) An annex with all the sources (e.g. lists of: diplomas, dissertations, certifications, publications, events attended, etc.) that address as many of the above requirements as possible, should be submitted to the Chair of the LifeWatch ERIC General Assembly and cc-ed to the CEO1 and rest of Common Facilities Directors.
  • Closing date for receipt of applications: December 1st, 2019
  • Short-listed candidates will be contacted directly by the LifeWatch ERIC Chair of the General Assembly as Chair of the Recruitment Committee.
  • Candidates may be called for an interview with the LifeWatch ERIC Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technology Officer and the other members of the Recruitment Committee, as well as other experts on the purpose of the position. 
  • This Recruitment Committee2 will provide the CEO with a short-list of a maximum of three candidates, and a summary of the information supporting its decision and the qualifications of the different candidates.
  • The CEO will select the candidate awarding the position, and will report to the General Assembly on his decision and the overall selection procedure.
  • Start date in office for the appointed Director: March the 1st, 2020 but the possibility to start as soon as January the 1st, 2020 would be greatly appreciated.

1 – Special note for Italian market: According to Italian Privacy Protection Law n. 196/03 any resume not mentioning explicitly the following wording: ‘I authorize the use of my personal data in accordance with Italian Privacy Protection Law (30/06/2003, n. 196/03)’ will be automatically deleted from our database and consequently not taken into consideration.

2 – Composed by the Chair of the General Assembly, CEO, and at least another representative of the Executive Board of Directors.

LifeWatch ERIC Internal Joint Initiative

Non-indigenous and Invasive species (NIS) are considered a major threat to biodiversity around the globe: they can impact ecosystems in many ways by outcompeting or predating on native species. Who has not heard of the Burmese pythons in Florida that eat alligators? The negative impact of imported rats and cats that have decimated island fauna populations? However, the long-term impacts of NIS on ecosystem integrity are poorly explored, and policy-makers are often left without sufficient information to make wise management decisions.

In the belief that the first steps in tackling biodiversity loss must be to improve our knowledge by developing better inter-disciplinary paradigms, LifeWatch ERIC is launching an exciting new Internal Joint Initiative (IJI), involving the scientific communities of National Nodes and other European Research Infrastructures, that will thoroughly describe the issues involved in ecosystem and habitat type vulnerability, and produce future scenarios under changing vectors to help decision-makers combat the impacts of climate change. 

The LifeWatch ERIC Internal Joint Initiative will combine data, semantic resources, data management services, and data analysis and modelling from its seven member countries – Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain – to bring together national assets on a scale never attempted before. This integration of Common Facilities and National Nodes will provide the comprehensive and synthetic knowledge so much needed by institutions and administrators.

By deploying and publishing on the LifeWatch ERIC web portal the federated resources and e-Tools and e-Resources, the Internal Joint Initiative will also define the requirements and architecture of the LifeWatch ERIC virtual research environments, and provide a clear demonstration of the Infrastructure’s added value for researchers in addressing specific biodiversity and ecosystem management issues. 

Non-indigenous and Invasive Species are a global problem. They are distributed among most plant and animal taxa, and present a number of key issues that remain challenging for both researchers and policy-makers. The knowledge produced by the Internal Joint Initiative will thus be of global significance. It is to be hoped that this demonstration case will be seen to have scientific and socio-economic implications for many different fields of investigation over the coming decades.

First Dahlem-type Workshop

LifeWatch ERIC needs to boost its construction and to engage users in developing their research activities into the Virtual Research Environments of the e-Science Infrastructures, by clearly demonstrating and documenting the added value these new technologies bring to address challenging hot topics.

LifeWatch ERIC has started an Internal Joint Initiative with the exact aim of addressing these needs and reinforcing the positioning of LifeWatch ERIC within the biodiversity and ecosystem scientific community. As a subject for the demonstration case, LifeWatch ERIC has selected non-indigenous and invasive species (NIS).

LifeWatch ERIC Internal Joint Initiative starts with its 1st Dahlem-type Workshop: Current and future challenges of NIS in Europe, from 14 to 18 October 2019 in Seville.

3rd Call for Applications EMMRI | Executive Masters in Management of RIs

The Executive Masters in Management of Research Infrastructures is an international management development Programme tailored to the specific needs of Research Infrastructures. This Programme is designed to give experienced science professionals the skills and knowledge they need to take on greater managerial responsibilities. 

What can the Executive Masters offer?

•  A global network of Research Infrastructure colleagues in similar leadership positions

•  An international Faculty composed by dedicated professors and acclaimed experts from Research Infrastructures

•  A better understanding of how Research Infrastructures in different countries are responding to common challenges

•  Greater awareness of leadership strengths and weaknesses.

•  Innovative ways to help organisations becoming more effective.

Please check the website to know more: www.emmri.unimib.it/en

More details on the Open Programme applications are available at the following address: http://www.emmri.unimib.it/en/home-open-programme/

Full Programme and Team Applications:

Deadline for application: 30th September 2019

Admission results: 15th October 2019

Programme start date: 4th March 2020