Balloon Sensor Released to Collect Data on Agriculture Biodiversity Impacts

Balloon Sensor

Andalusia, the region home to the LifeWatch ERIC Statutory Seat and ICT-Core, drives the innovative Smartfood Project in the agricultural and fishing sectors. SmartFood is led by the Andalusia Agency for Agriculture and Fisheries Development (AGAPA), which is part of the Junta de Andalucía, and its aim is to better understand the impact of agriculture on the region’s biodiversity. On Monday 18 July, in Cordoba, a project event was held in which a balloon sensor probe was released, attended by LifeWatch ERIC CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Project Coordinator, Rocío Moreno Domínguez, Direction Secretary and QARM/FitSM Technical Assistant, María Luz Vázquez Santana, and Satellite & HAPS Operations Manager for Earth Observations and Navigation Applications, Jaime Lobo.

The first flight of the balloon sensor probe took place on Cordoba University Campus, called ‘Rabanales’, with the principal aim of gathering data on the agricultural impact on a natural environment, as well as identifying and quantifying variables associated with ecosystem services in the agricultural sector.

AGAPA Director, José Carlos Álvarez Martín, commented on the importance of governamental institutions like Junta de Andalucía supporting projects as Smartfood, given the strategic importance of the agriculture and fishing sectors.

In the same vein, Dr Arvanitidis noted that the Andalusian region is a strategic European partner, due to its agricultural potential and natural protected areas becoming a hotspot for the development of these kinds of projects.

Finally, Dr González-Aranda highlighted that these types of projects are essential for sustainability development and innovation, so that we can measure the impact of climate change in order to advise better decision-making based on FAIR data. He also mentioned the importance of optimising existing distributed resources by improving our understanding of their associated ecosystem services.

2nd General Assembly of the ResInfra EU-LAC Project

ResInfra EU-LAC General Assembly

This week, LifeWatch ERIC personnel Juan Miguel González-Aranda (CTO), Maria Luz Vázquez (Direction Secretary & QARM – FiTSM Technical Assistant for ICT-Core), Rocío Moreno (Project Executive Coordinator) and Cristina Huertas Olivares (International Initiatives & Projects Manager) are in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the second General Assembly of ResInfra EU-LAC.

The ResInfra EU-LAC project pursues the construction of bi-regional collaboration between European Union and the LAC countries (Latin America and the Caribbean), and the meeting has gathered representatives from Uruguay and the European Commission as well as partners of the EU-LAC ResInfra Consortium to discuss items such as the project Sustainability Plan, the benefits of Research Infrastructure cooperation, and the next Horizon Europe INFRA work programme. On 20 July, LifeWatch ERIC CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda gave a presentation on the “LifEuLAC pilot on Biodiversity and Climate Change.”

To learn more about the projects LifeWatch ERIC is involved in, please visit our Related Projects page.

LifeWatch Italy in ParAqua Initiative to Investigate Algae-Parasite Interaction


In May this year, LifeWatch Italy was invited to join the COST Action CA20125 – Applications For Zoosporic Parasites In Aquatic Systems – ParAqua.

The main aims of this project are to organise and coordinate an innovative and dynamic network of academia researchers, industries, and water management authorities to advance and apply knowledge and expertise on zoosporic parasites (i.e. aquatic fungi and fungi-like microorganisms) and the relation with their hosts in natural ecosystems and industrial algal biotech production. 

Among the ParAqua objectives, specific task of WG1 and WG2 is to compile and integrate a database on zoosporic parasites across Europe and inventorise parasite effects on algal hosts in algal biotech and natural systems.

Ilaria Rosati and Andrea Tarallo, from the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and in charge of several management aspects within LifeWatch Italy, joined the Action as members of WG 1 and 2. They led the workshop to kick off the activity, held in Larnaca (CY) on 5 July 2022, and will coordinate the actions to collect and manage the data provide by the project participants that will be hosted on the ParAqua database.

The final goal is to build the database and use it in order to provide a tool to help researchers and companies to take early data-informed decisions for algae cultures and parasite recognition.

This news item was originally posted on the LifeWatch Italy website.

ALL-Ready Pilot Network Meeting

ALL-Ready Pilot Network Meeting

The ALL-Ready Pilot Network Meeting took place on 4-6 July 2022 in Ghent, including a Demonstration Day in Hansbeke. The meeting gathered the members of the Pilot Network and the consortium partners, in person and remotely. The meeting included an interesting discussion about how to operationalise the thematic working groups during the project and a learning roundtable about best practices for co-creation, involving stakeholders. On the second day, a workshop was organised for Work Packages 4, 5 and 6 to discuss 1) Why a European Network of Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructure is important, 2) What competencies and skills a European Network can improve, and 3) How a Virtual Research Environment can support a European Network. The second day concluded with a ILVO Living Lab Agrifood Technology demo of their agro-ecological trial platform in Hansbeke – a great opportunity to experience how a #LivingLab operates and to learn how to improve soil quality based on low input use.

During the meeting, Iria Soto, LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Project Manager, represented the infrastructure as a member of the Pilot Network, and José Manuel Ávila, LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Coordinator, dynamised the workshop to validate the functionalities of the Agroecology Virtual Research Environment, which was already defined in the previous workshop, with the members of the Pilot Network. 

ALL-Ready is a European-Funded H2020 project that aims to prepare a framework for a future European network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures that will enable the transition towards agroecology throughout Europe. Based on the premise that agroecology can strengthen the sustainability and resilience of farming systems, the project will contribute to addressing the multiple challenges that they are facing today including climate change, loss of biodiversity, dwindling resources and degradation of soil and water quality. It is a Coordination and Support Action funded by the European Commission. 

To learn more about the projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved, please visit the Related Projects page.

ENVRI Community Summer School ‘Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub’ a Success Again!

Group Photo News

From 10–15 July 2022, 20 students of 13 different nationalities – European, American, Iranian and Pakistani – participated in the ENVRI Community International Summer School organised by LifeWatch ERIC in the framework of the Horizon2020 ENVRI-FAIR project, with the support of the University of Salento.

Now at its fourth edition, this year’s Summer School happily returned to an in-person format, after the last couple of editions were forced to migrate online, and was hosted in the heart of Lecce by the University of Salento, which is the site of the LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre. The Summer School welcomed the participants on the evening of Sunday 10 July with a relaxed opening event, while the curricular programme took place from Monday to Friday, with a chance for the participants to present what they had learnt and a take part in certificate award ceremony on the last day. The surrounding area of Salento also featured in the “extracurricular” programme, with an organised group trip to Gallipoli on the Thursday to offer the participants not only some down time but also a taste of the local cuisine.

The School was aimed at IT architects, Research Infrastructure (RI) service developers and user support staff, as well as RI staff working on user interaction and community/network building and covered topics such as user interfaces, packaging of services and the reusability and validation of services. It featured an ambitious programme in which Data FAIRness and the principles of Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability were the common denominator, essential for rendering the huge collection of data available to researchers and data mangers accessible to the wider scientific and interested community. This is a focus in which the European Union has been investing for a long time, to support the growth of the joint research area, and is compulsory for all activities financed by Horizon programmes.

This becomes all the more relevant considering the subjects in discussion –  environmental science and ecology – for which the integration and sharing of biodiversity and ecosystem data is necessary to improve our understanding of ecological issues and propose innovative approaches and science-based solutions to the widespread changes affecting our Earth, such as rising temperatures, drought and the increased frequency of natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding.

So, was it a success? The preliminary comments received gave an overwhelmingly positive impression of the School, with participants reporting that they appreciated not only the training but also the overall organisation. Recurring comments included an appreciation of the benefits of working with an interdisciplinary group of people, with takeaway keywords being content, communication and collaboration!

Link to minisite:

Research Infrastructures Accelerating Global Effort to Achieve Environmental Sustainability

ESOF 2022

Today, 15 July 2022, the ERIC Forum organised an online session as part of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF2022), taking place in Leiden from 13 – 16 July 2022.

The session, entitled “Research Infrastructures’ contribution to environmental sustainability puts Research Infrastructures and the added value they bring to the European Research Area in the spotlight, with their major role in creating new opportunities to advance scientific research, enabling access to large-scale facilities and e-Science infrastructures.

LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, is joining the session with a presentation on the “The key role of Research Infrastructures to advance Environmental Sustainability through Digital Transformation”. Illustrating the role that LifeWatch ERIC tools like Tesseract and LifeBlock can play in the organisation and management of knowledge, the presentation demonstrates how, through the many projects in which the infrastructure is involved, they can support biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services monitoring and assessment, and ultimately human well-being, contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals, as well as the targets of the European Biodiversity Strategy and Green Deal.

Today’s panel also witnesses the participation of ESBB President, Dominik Lermen, Deputy Director of CERIC-ERIC, Ornela de Giacomo, Director General of BBMRI-ERIC, Jens Habermann, and was moderated by the ERIC Forum Chair, and Director of JIVE-ERIC, Francisco Colomer.

All Hands on Deck to Define the LifeWatch ERIC Roadmap

Roadmap News

Circa eighty members of the LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities and representatives of the Member States gathered in the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core headquarters in Seville on 12 and 13 July for a meeting on the future of the Infrastructure.

Kicking off the two-day proceedings were Executive Board members CEO Christos Arvanitidis, CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda and CFO Lucas de Moncuit, who presented the LifeWatch ERIC Strategic Work Plan for 2022–2026, and José Carlos Álvarez Martín, Managing Director of the Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency of Andalusia, who stressed the importance of the collaboration between LifeWatch ERIC and the Andalusian Region, for the sustainable development of the region, particularly in the field of agroecology. 

Overall, the strategic objectives of the meeting were to plan and coordinate the work of the Common Facilities and Member States, through their Distributed Centres, to achieve the strategic objectives at the heart of the new strategic working plan and of the many projects in which the research infrastructure is currently engaged. The expertise available within LifeWatch ERIC is wide-ranging, from ecology to ICT, from agronomy to metagenomics, just to name a few examples – hence the added value of the infrastructure’s capacity to actively contribute in multiple domains, both scientifically and technically.

The work was organised in plenary and parallel sessions, the latter divided along the three working groups corresponding to three main branches of activities: 

  • DemeterWatch, cementing Agroecology as one of the infrastructure’s key activities run through many projects like ALL-Ready, Agroserv, Andalusia ERDF, Smart Food and resulting into the establishment of a core group and a roadmap to coordinate activities in this domain;
  • HermesWatch, advancing in the co-deployment and co-maintenance of the ICT Infrastructure and restructuring current working group organization;
  • Strategic Working Plan implementation, Andalusia ERDF and EU funded projects, translating the Strategic Working Plan into a practical plan which will guide LifeWatch ERIC until 2026, and analysing ERDF and EU-funded projects tasks, activities and deliverables to engage Common Facilities and Distributed Centres in further Research Collaboration within this framework.

Concluding the two days’ activities, the group worked together to define the first version of the LifeWatch ERIC Actionable Roadmap, with the mission of devising, structuring and accelerating the automatic interoperability of data, resources and open digital services for the benefit of researchers, and with the ultimate goal of accurately informing decision-making on climate change and on the protection of biodiversity throughout the planet.

“A Window on Science” Renewed for Third Season


We are back for another season! The first LifeWatch ERIC podcast season focused on the Internal Joint Initiative, the construction of Virtual Research Environments (VREs), and the second drew on the five validation cases used to develop those VREs. Season Three starts up on 20 July 2022, moving a little outside the infrastructure itself into the broader world of Open Science, Invasive Alien Species and practical applications of the LifeWatch ERIC VRE. The first five episodes span the August holiday break:

  • Wednesday 20 July: WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species)
  • Wednesday 3 August: Ocean Optimism
  • Wednesday 7 September: The Critical Zone
  • Wednesday 21 September: Essential Biodiversity Variables, and
  • Wednesday 5 October: The ENVRI Project.

These LifeWatch ERIC podcasts will be embedded in our website portal at the following link (find all of Season 1 here and Season 2 here), and are also available on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple Podcasts, and Amazon Music. Our overall purpose is to raise awareness of the good work being done to understand and remedy the damage caused by climate change and anthropogenic pressures. So have a look at the video and take a note of the dates!

A Window on Science Season 3 | Podcast Trailer

Change the Channel – LifeWatching WebTV has Landed

LifeWatching Science Channel

Calling everyone with a thirst for knowledge! Introducing LifeWatching: the new WebTV for biodiversity research in Europe.

The LifeWatching Science Channel is a free, multi-themed platform, available on any device, at any time, providing you with your fill of up-to-date, on-the-ground videos from key players in the European research landscape.

On this new WebTV exclusively for video content on biodiversity and ecosystem research, you can learn about current projects and higher education programmes at national and European level, dive into the hidden worlds of wild creatures and the scientists who keep track of them, as well as follow high-level conferences and events, past and present.

Additonally, LifeWatching will soon be further enriched with videos with dedicated channels for the LifeWatch ERIC member states. Stay tuned!

Get your fill by heading over to

The LifeWatching Science Channel is run by specialised personnel at the LifeWatch ERIC Multimedia Production Centre, based at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy. Please send an enquiry to communications[at] if you would like your video to be featured on the platform, if you need technical assistance streaming a live event, or regarding potential collaborations on audiovisual content creation for your research infrastructure/project.

Fostering synergies between LifeWatch ERIC and the Huelva Province


On 8 July, a LifeWatch ERIC delegation composed of the Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, and LifeWatch ERIC QARM – FiTSM Technical Assistant for ICT-Core, María Luz Vázquez-Santana, together with the Coordinator of the main initiative of the Smart Food AgroEcology Andalusia ERDF, Rocío Moreno, met with the President of Diputación of the Huelva province, María Eugenía Limón.
The question at the heart of the meeting was how to foster ongoing collaborations and create new synergies between the e-Science Research Infrastructure, LifeWatch ERIC, and the Province of Huelva: a strategical area playing a pivotal trans-boundary role in the Euroregion Algarve-Alentejo-Andalucía and the Doñana Natural Area.
In the framework of the Europe of the Regions vision, LifeWatch ERIC has been involved since 2014 and working to enact the “Thinking globally, acting locally” motto, in particular in the domains of Citizen Science and Gender and Inclusiveness, the latter carried out within the framework of the GenderWatch initiative.