LifeWatch ERIC in Bold New Horizon Europe Project: Biodiversity Digital Twin

BioDT Kick-off Meeting

This week, along with 22 other partners, LifeWatch ERIC took part in the kick-off meeting of a new Horizon Europe project which will help protect and restore biodiversity through the development of a digital twin prototype, in Espoo, Finland. Biodiversity Digital Twin (BioDT) BioDT will provide a crucial infrastructure to drive long-term biodiversity research and facilitate science-driven policy and rapid-response actions to enforce current commitments to protecting biodiversity in the long term.

In the context of recent efforts supported by the European Commission for the development of digital twins to address multidisciplinary environmental and societal challenges, the consortium, led by the Finnish CSC – IT Center for Science, home of the EuroHPC LUMI supercomputer, is taking on the task of designing and developing a digital twin dedicated to biological diversity in the BioDT project.

CSC is pleased to support this flagship project, with BioDT being one of the first European-wide research initiatives to benefit from access to the LUMI supercomputer”, said Jesse Harrison, BioDT Project Manager. “BioDT will directly improve our ability to address global challenges associated with biodiversity loss and the climate crisis, including the provision of ecosystem services and food security, predicting disease outbreaks, and understanding the dynamics of key species of policy concern.”  

Redefining the ability to predict biodiversity dynamics

Understanding the forces shaping biodiversity is needed for rational management of natural resources and also to meet the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to restore biodiversity in Europe. In particular, researchers need to be able to better predict global biodiversity dynamics and how species interact with their environment and with each other. This can be an extremely difficult task because the processes underlying biodiversity dynamics are complex. Innovative ways to combine data, models and interaction processes are required to predict these dynamics and offer solutions that promote a sustainable management of Earth’s biodiversity and its ecosystems.

The consortium aims to push the current boundaries of predictive understanding of biodiversity dynamics by developing a Biodiversity Digital Twin (BioDT) providing advanced modelling, simulation and prediction capabilities. By exploiting existing technologies and data from relevant research infrastructures in new ways, BioDT will be able to accurately and quantitatively model interactions between species and their environment. 

Scientists at involved Research Infrastructures (RIs) will use the BioDT to:

  • better observe changes in biodiversity in response to forces resulting from climate change or human activity,
  • mechanistically understand how these changes occur,
  • predict the effects of these changes.

Practical examples and societal impact

The project features eight use cases related to land ecosystems, clustered in four groups grounded in the scientific and technical expertise of the consortium. These use cases focus on the species and ecosystems of highest conservation and policy concern, such as threatened species, pollinators, and grasslands, and are vital to mankind’s well-being and biodiversity conservation efforts.

  • Group 1 – Species response to environmental change
  • Group 2 – Genetically detected biodiversity
  • Group 3 – Dynamics and threats from and for species of policy concern
  • Group 4 – Species interactions with each other and with humans

They address global issues of critical societal interest including climate change impacts on species and ecosystems, food security, implementation of EU and international policies and health, and will specifically contribute to addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2 – Zero hunger, 3 – Good health and well-being, 13 – Climate action, and 15 – Life on land.

Multidisciplinary data for interconnected challenges

BioDT brings together a dynamic team of experts in biodiversity, high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, digital twinning and FAIR data to develop the first BioDT prototype. The scientific expertise and existing datasets from four major biodiversity research infrastructures (GBIF, eLTER, DiSSCo, and LifeWatch ERIC) will bring life to BioDT, allowing for coverage of several application domains such as environmental and earth science, climate science, ecology, biology, genomics, natural history, biodiversity informatics, computer sciences, and mathematics / statistics.

Biodiversity Digital Twin and its infrastructure will become an integral component of the Destination Earth initiative and actively participate in its ambition to realise a full Digital Twin of the Earth. The long-term objectives of BioDT are also tightly interconnected with the EC vision for a robust, federated European computing and data infrastructure, and initiatives such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and EuroHPC.

Follow BioDT on the project’s website, LinkedIn and Twitter.


The Bulgarian National Distributed Centre is represented by the  Agricultural University-Plovdiv.

To know more about how Bulgaria contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Spanish National Distributed Centre is supported by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the Regional Government of Andalusia and the Guadalquivir River Basin Authority (Ministry for Ecological Transition-MITECO). Moreover, Spain is the hosting Member State of LifeWatch ERIC, the location of its Statutory Seat & ICT e-Infrastructure Technical Office (LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities). 

To know more about how Spain contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Slovenian National Distributed Centre is led by the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU). It focuses on the development of technological solutions in the field of biodiversity and socio-ecosystem research.

To know more about how Slovenia contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Portuguese National Distributed Centre is managed by PORBIOTA, the Portuguese e-Infrastructure for Information and Research on Biodiversity. Led by BIOPOLIS/CIBIO-InBIO – Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, PORBIOTA connects the principal Portuguese research institutions working in biodiversity.

To know more about how Portugal contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Dutch National Distributed Centre is hosted by the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam. Moreover, The Netherlands hosts one of the LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities, the Virtual Laboratory and Innovation Centre.

To know more about how The Netherlands contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Italian National Distributed Centre is led and managed by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and is coordinated by a Joint Research Unit, currently comprising 35 members. Moreover, Italy hosts one of the LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities, the Service Centre.

To know more about how Italy contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Greek National Distributed Centre is funded by the Greek General Secretariat of Research and Technology and is coordinated by the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, in conjunction with 47 associated partner institutions.

To know more about how Greece contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Belgian National Distributed Centre makes varied and complementary in-kind contributions to LifeWatch ERIC. These are implemented in the form of long-lasting projects by various research centres and universities distributed throughout the country and supported by each respective political authority.

To know more about how Belgium contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.