LifeWatch ERIC in Support of SDGs

On Monday 28 September 2020, LifeWatch ERIC held centre stage at Science Digital @ UNGA 75, an online event organised under the mission of Mr Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond, Special Adviser to the Secretary General to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations and to explore issues regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN in 2015. Chaired by Enrique Alonso-García, Permanent Counsellor of State for Spain, the two-hour virtual workshop featured six presentations, plus discussion time. 

The session sought to explore and highlight how LifeWatch ERIC can contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The opening by Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Executive Officer, immediately set the tone of the discussion, presenting the e-Science Infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research, its mission and commitment to support the accomplishment of SDGs, Green Deal & Union Energy objectives, but also putting the focus clearly on the cultural challenge ahead: to engage all the scientific communities of practice to move away from a single-core (SCBs) operation, or ‘brain-etics’, to high performance brain network synthesis (HPBNs,) or ‘brain-omics’.

These views were reflected throughout the programme, which incorporated many different disciplinary approaches. A snapshot of the key research topics in the biodiversity and ecosystem domain – with special references to SDG 2030 and monitoring climate, biodiversity and ecosystem changes, through quantifying the EBVs – moved on to the challenges posed by the regulatory framework for biodiversity and ecosystem and the importance of legal compliance – in particular in relation to composing the data policy puzzle – and finally focused on international cooperation for research infrastructures, the involvement of stakeholders and on a socio-economic approach, centring around the bioeconomy and circular economy paradigms. Cooperation proved to be a key word of the LifeWatch ERIC session, emerging again in the discussion in relation to a new age of e-Research collaboration, consisting of Biodiversity Information, Open Science Data, Community Commitment and Spreading Knowledge, on topics that challenge society.

The session was brought to a close by LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, who presented a conceptual framework on e-Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services ICT to support the accomplishment of SGD 2030, and LifeWatch ERIC key technology tools (e.g. data catalogues, EcoPortal, the LifeBlock (-chain) platform). In his framework, LifeWatch ERIC Tesseract Virtual Research Environment (VRE) deserves a special mention as a true example of co-design, co-development and co-deployment of an inter- and multi- disciplinary working team composed of nearby 80 scientists and e-Biodiversity bioinformaticians, all in the interest of addressing transgenerational Climate Change adaptation & mitigation challenges.”.

The session was very interactive, participants added to the discussion of these points and introduced other important issues including Gender & Equity. “With a particular mention for the LifeWatch ERIC ICT team who organised and ran the session, we’d like to thank everyone involved today for a wide-ranging and very productive discussion”, said the rapporteurs, Christos Arvanitidis and Juan Miguel González-Aranda in conclusion.


• “LifeWatch ERIC in a nutshell. Towards a new Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research HPBNs & brain-omics approach, and how RIs can assist accomplishment of the SDG 2030 targets“Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO. 

• “Trending topics on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Scientific Research“Alberto Basset, LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director. 

• “A global legal perspective/approach on/to Biodiversity & Ecosystems regulatory frameworks for SDG 2030 accomplishment“Enrique Alonso-García, Permanent Counselor of State at the Spanish Council of State Sections on Environmental, Rural & Marine Affaires and Science & Innovation. 

 • “Involving the socio-economics sectors: The perspective from Decision Makers, Companies & Innovators. Vision from EU-LAC stakeholders“Federico Torres-Carballo, Vice-Minister at Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications of Costa Rica, and Fernando Amestoy-Rosso, President Latin American Division International Association of Science Parks & Areas of Innovation –IASP–, Chair of EU-LAC Research Infrastructures SOM, Pando Technological Pole Director-Uruguay. 

• “Towards a new open science data vision of Biodiversity Informatics at global scale (GBIF, OBIS, RDA, …)” Arturo H. Ariño-Plana, University of Navarra  

• “An innovative conceptual framework on e-Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services ICT to support the accomplishment of SGD 2030“Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO & ERIC FORUM Executive Board member.

LW ERIC in support of SDGs 2030


LifeWatch ERIC is delighted to announce its participation in the Science Digital @ UNGA 75 (24 September – 2 October), an online event organised by Intelligence in Science (ISC), with the presentation of a dedicated session LifeWatch ERIC in support of the SDG 2030 accomplishment, on Monday 28 September, 12:00-14:00 CEST. 

As the United Nations turn 75, mitigating the effects of climate change on the planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems is becoming more and more central to achieving and securing Sustainable Development Goals.  Science and research have a pivotal role to play, not only in measuring the impact of these changes, but also as a strategic resource providing policy makers with the scientific and nature-based knowledge needed to tackle these societal challenges. LifeWatch ERIC is at work to achieve this mission by providing access to a multitude of data sets, e-Services & e-Tools that enable the construction and operation of Virtual Research Environments, which in turn provide the mechanisms for integrating data, software and computation developed in pan-European cooperation, by means of the use of state-of-art ICT: Big Data, Deep Learning-AI and Blockchain (“LifeBlock”), among others. 

The heart of Science Digital @ UNGA 75 consists in the role and contribution of science and digital technologies to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this framework, LifeWatch ERIC proposes a rich agenda spanning across different disciplines, from biodiversity and ecosystem research to computer and data sciences, law and economics, and provides innovative approaches and frameworks to assist the accomplishment of the SDG 2030 targets.

Don’t miss the LifeWatch ERIC Session at Science Digital @ UNGA 75!

Description of the session, agenda and registration link are available here

1st ERIC Forum Policy Seminar

ERIC Forum Policy Seminar

The first ERIC Forum Policy Seminar was held online on 14 -15 September, 2020. The ERIC Forum brings together 20 established European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs) and 3 ERICs in preparation to strengthen their alliance and enhance collaboration. Under Grant Agreement n°823798, the ERIC Forum prepares, on a yearly basis, policy briefs that address topics of relevance to all of its members and that contribute to strengthening the European Research Area. These seminars also offer the opportunity to present the Technical and Innovation Reports, produced within the framework of the ERIC Forum project.

The ERIC Forum Policy Seminar was jointly hosted by LifeWatch, the e-Science Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research and ECRIN, the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network, ERICs. The focus of the two-day event was on the brief entitled “Funding models for access to ERIC transnational services“, which brought together representatives of main funding bodies and ERICs to jointly identify opportunities and build recommendations to optimize the funding mechanisms for research projects requiring ERIC services.

The LifeWatch ERIC team contribution involved not only a joint presentation from CEO Christos Arvanitidis and CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda –  A Technical and Innovation Report on “Creating synergies between ERICs and the (Regional) Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation – RIS3” and the “LifeWatch ERIC case study” – but also active participation and support of all the discussions held, in particular during ‘Session A National Funding Schemes+ ERA-Nets and EJP’, ‘Session B Regional Funds – Technical and Innovation Report’ and ‘Session C Funding + Horizon Europe and PPP’, in the concluding remarks and in drawing up the final documents.

With more than 150 representatives in attendance online, including high level EU and national decision makers, Jean-Eric Paquet, Director General of DG Research and Innovation (DG RTD) and presided over by ERIC Forum Chair John Womersley, European Spallation Source Director, the proceedings were acclaimed as “a real success”and provided LifeWatch ERIC with huge publicity. “I believe we made real progress in these meetings. Special thanks to our ICT team for their great work in setting up and running the technical platform and other logistical aspects for the event,” commented González-Aranda, who is also a member of the ERIC Forum Executive Board.

AERAP virtual conference “A New Era for Africa-EU Science and Innovation Partnerships”

The Africa European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) held a virtual conference on 9-10 September 2020, entitled “A New Era for Africa-EU Science and Innovation Partnerships”. Scientists, innovators, network policymakers and other stakeholders came together to advance the cause of Africa Horizon Europe Development and Cooperation. Since its foundation in 2012, the AERAP platform has widened its scope beyond radio astronomy sciences to serve as an engagement platform for broader Africa-EU science collaboration, one of its main results being ontgoing EU-AFRICA cooperation and the establishment of the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) Research Infrastructure

LifeWatch ERIC was represented by its Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, who made two presentations to help reinforce the infrastructure’s collaboration with African communities of practice on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research. The presentations emphasised not only the nature and potential of LifeWatch ERIC, but also the active roles of the co-chairs of the EU-AFRICA AERAP Working Group on Green Deal, Transition & Energy Access: González-Aranda on behalf of the European Union side, by representing the ENVRI cluster on Research Infrastructures as also Member of the ERIC FORUM Executive Board; and Georgina Ryan, Department of  Science and Innovation, Pretoria, representing the Government of the Republic of South Africa on behalf of the African Union.

SItE Roundtable event

SItE Roundtable

When the annual Congress of the Italian Society of Ecology (Società Italiana di Ecologia – SItE), planned for 14-18 September in Lecce had to be postponed until next year because of Covid-19, the organising committee, in conjunction with LifeWatch Italy and the Ecology Laboratory at the University of Salento, decided to offer its members a day of online Roundtables entitled “SItE – Towards Lecce 2021” to celebrate Ecology Day on 14 September. Around 300 registrations were made to follow the 20 presentations offered across a comprehensive range of topics:

• Ecosystem health and chemical mixture risk assessment and management

• Ecosystems and their services for human well-being 

• Healthy Ecosystems, Healthy People

• Landscape ecology: sustainable landscape management, and

• Arctic and Alpine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

Dr Christos Arvanitidis was called up from LifeWatch ERIC to contribute to the Healthy Ecosystems, Healthy People session, which was organised by the European Ecological Federation and chaired by its President, Cristina Maguas. Dr Arvanitidis’ talk was on the topic of ‘Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases: the role of the RIs in combating threats to public health’, starting with the connection between environmental factors during the Plague of Athens (430 BC) and moving forward on to how modern European Research Infrastructures (RIs) contribute to analysing the connections between human and ecosystem health. An RI like LifeWatch ERIC offers a one-stop disruptive technology-based architecture combined with docker technology, that guarantees authentication, transparency and reproducibility, which form the cornerstones of the modern process of scientific knowledge production. In addition, Dr Arvanitidis argued, it enables “the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation”. Click here to download the presentation. The 2021 Italian Society of Ecology congress will take place in Lecce, from 13 to 17 September.