LifeWatch ERIC Wins Prize at AI for Science Workshop

AI for Science

The AI for Science Workshop was held from 12–16 December in Rabat, Morocco, organised by NASSMA, MASCIR, and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. Artificial Intelligence offers the promise of revolutionising the way scientific discoveries are done, and tremendously accelerate their pace. However, major challenges still remain in this nascent field of AI for Science, and the goal of this workshop was to address and discuss challenges such as novel methods for AI for Science, tackling the right set of scientific problems, enabling scientific discoveries with AI, and the journey from scientific discovery to a practical application. 

LifeWatch ERIC was represented at the event by its Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Assistant, Yassir Benhammou, who exhibited the ERDF-funded SmartEcoMountains project, which combines interdisciplinary perspectives to obtain and integrate data on how global change affects mountain ecosystems. He displayed a poster on the project “Satellite RGB images and Time Series datasets for automatic Global Land Use/Cover mapping using Deep Learning”, presenting two Smart Global datasets, TimeSpec4LULC* and Sentinel2GlobalLULC**, to train Machine Learning models to perform land use/cover mapping. These two datasets are published in two renowned journals: Earth System Science Data (IF-2021=11,81) and Scientific Data (IF-2021=8,5). On the final day of the event, it won the “best poster prize”. LifeWatch ERIC is delighted and honoured by the recognition afforded by the panel, which featured representatives of pioneers in AI such as UM6P, DeepMind, University of Cambridge, the Morrocan Foundation for Advanced Science, Innovation and Research and Google.

For more information on projects in which the infrastructure is involved, please see our related projects page.

*Authors of TimeSpec4LULC: Rohaifa Khaldi, Domingo Alcaraz-Segura, Emilio Guirado, Yassir Benhammou, Abdellatif El Afia, Francisco Herrera, Siham Tabik. Article link:

**Authors of Sentinel2GlobalLULC: Yassir Benhammou, Domingo Alcaraz-Segura, Emilio Guirado, Rohaifa Khaldi, Boujemâa Achchab, Francisco Herrera, Siham Tabik. Article link:

LifeWatch ERIC at COP15 US-Africa Summit in Washington

COP15 US Africa Summit

LifeWatch ERIC continued its contribution to COP15 on 12 December, when Chief Technology Officer Juan Miguel González-Aranda gave a presentation to the US-Africa Summit in Washington D.C. entitled “United in BIOdiversity: e-Research Collaboration on (e-)Biodiversity & Ecosystem Sustainable Management in support of the accomplishment of SDG 2030. A Global Challenge”.

Dr González-Aranda’s thesis is that we are moving towards the Sixth Great Extinction, and that it is of essential importance that we address our current environmental challenges and provide knowledge-based strategic solutions to biodiversity loss. LifeWatch ERIC’s Big Data tools allow researchers to assess and monitor ecosystem functions and then provide science-based knowledge so decision-makers can intervene to restore the biodiversity on which human wellbeing depends.  

The US-Africa Summit, 12–16 December, is a side event to the 15th Conference of the parties in Montreal, Canada, the main objective of which is to adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, released in July 2021, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. COP15 recognises that urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally is required to transform economic, social and financial models to reverse the trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss.

LifeWatch ERIC Contributes to United Nations COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montreal


COP15, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, is not as well-known as the COP27, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention and Climate Change, held last month in Egypt. However, the Biodiversity Conference, 7-19 December in Montreal, Canada, is the most significant conference on biodiversity in a decade because it will see the adoption of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, which provides a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next 10 years.

LifeWatch ERIC, the European Infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research, was represented, virtually, by Chief Technology Officer and Executive Board member Juan Miguel González-Aranda, in an ancillary event on 8 December 2022, organised by the Indigenous Knowledge Research Infrastructure (IKRI), dedicated to addressing the challenges for biodiversity and resiliency of ecosystems. Dr Milind Pimprikar, Chairman of CANEUS, moderated the session, emphasising that indigenous knowledge and practices need to recognised and documented to leverage, integrate and address the urgent challenges the world is facing.

Dr González-Aranda’s contribution described LifeWatch ERIC’s provision of data services as structuring tools in the federation of indigenous knowledge to assist sustainable environmental management, and cited case studies in food, agroecology and green medicine systems. Indigenous knowledge is key to collaborating in a global climate change scenario, he argued, adding that LifeWatch ERIC’s e-Science tools a “Tactical Perspective Action” of not reinventing the wheel, but bringing together sustainable management communities of practice. The infrastructure already works with many countries in guaranteeing the FAIR-ness of data, their interoperability, providing science-based examples of best practice.

The IKRI session at COP15 featured nine other speakers from around the globe and the panel consisted of: Ms. Joan Carling, Executive Director, Indigenous Peoples Rights International, Philippines; Ms. Nāmaka Rawlins, Director of Neʻepapa, Aha Pūnana Leo, Hawaii; Dr. Hussein Isack, Kivulini Trust, Kenya; and Dr. Terence Hay-Edie, GEF Small Grants Programme Advisor, United Nations Development Programme. 

LifeWatch ERIC CTO COP15

Fostering Innovation with the European Commission and Universities for Regional Development

regional development

On Friday 2 December, European experts debated in the Auditorium of the University of Seville about the contribution of the university to regional development and how the promotion of innovation can benefit the double ecological and digital transition. The seminar, organised by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission and the universities of Seville and Pablo de Olavide, served as a stage for the exchange of knowledge on how the connection between universities and the other actors in the innovation system is essential to tackle challenges such as climate change, digitisation or water scarcity.

The Minister of University, Research and Innovation of the Junta de Andalucía, José Carlos Gómez Villamandos; the director of the JRC in Seville, Mikel Landabaso; and the rectors of the University of Seville and the Pablo de Olavide University, Miguel Ángel Castro Arroyo and Francisco Oliva Blázquez, participated in the seminar called ‘The contribution of the university to regional development through the promotion of innovation’.

In particular, examples were analysed of how collaboration between companies and universities is a characteristic of the most advanced regions in terms of innovation and job creation. In addition, the role of universities in the implementation of regional economic transformation strategies was discussed. For this, experts intervened such as Francisco Solé, vice president of the CYD Foundation; Luc Soete, former Chancellor of Maastricht University and co-chair of the S4 Scientific Commission; Koen Jonkers, editor-in-chief of the JRC; Karel Haegeman, team leader at JRC; Johan Stierna, JRC Lead Scientist; Antonia Jiménez, Vice-Rector for Research, Transfer and Doctorate at the Pablo de Olavide University, and Felipe Rosa, Vice-Rector for Knowledge Transfer at the University of Seville.

LifeWatch ERIC, which sets an example of promoting innovation through agreements with research centres and universities inside and outside Europe, attended this seminar. Juan Miguel González Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer and Common Facility in Spain-ICT Core Director, reached out to the heads of the JRC and the main universities in Seville to expand cooperation in projects already underway.

The Councillor for University, Research and Innovation of the Junta de Andalucía, José Carlos Gómez Villamandos, highlighted that “the innovative capacity of academic institutions is linked to the flow of knowledge that they transmit to the business sector, and the degree of disruption that is implicit”. As an example of this, the Minister highlighted the Andalusia-Alentejo-Algarve University Innovation Centre CIU3A: a cross-border project promoted by the University of Seville, together with Portuguese higher education institutions, which will make it possible to take advantage of the opportunities associated with collaboration between the universities of both countries and to create international environments for R+D+I.

Miguel Ángel Castro, rector of the University of Seville, has stressed that “although much progress has been made in recent years, it is necessary to establish more synergies between the universities and other actors in the regional ecosystems to promote the innovation necessary for the profound transformation of regional production and consumption systems”. He has also referred to the European Universities initiative launched by the European Commission, in which the University of Seville is represented through Ulysseus European University. Castro recalled that this programme is being developed in parallel to the new European Innovation Agenda, is the aim of which is “to promote innovation as the engine of the ecological and digital transitions that Europe needs”.

Francisco Oliva, rector of the Pablo de Olavide University, expressed his admiration for “the important contribution that universities make to the social, cultural and economic development of our environment”; highlighting that “in the face of the challenges that society faces regarding digitisation and the ecological transition, universities contribute knowledge and act as transformative agents, generating alliances for innovation and training future generations”.

In the photo, from left to right: Mikel Landabaso, director of the JRC in Seville; Vincenzo Cardarelli, head of institutional relations at the JRC in Seville; Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer and Common Facility in Spain-ICT Core Director; Miguel Angel Castro Arroyo, rector of the University of Seville; Francisco Oliva, Blázquez, rector of the Pablo de Olavide University; Carmen Vargas, Vice Chancellor for Internationalisation at the University of Seville; Amapola Povedano, General Director of Employability and Entrepreneurship at the Pablo de Olavide University, and Francisco Solé Parellada, Vice President of the Knowledge and Development Foundation.

The ALL-Ready Project 3rd Pilot Network Meeting

ALL-Ready Pilot Network Meeting

Following the successful ALL-Ready regional workshop held in its ICT-Core premises in Seville at the start of the month, LifeWatch ERIC played an active part in the project’s 3rd Pilot Network Meeting. The meeting took place in Budapest (Hungary) from 21 – 23 November 2022,  organised by the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi). ALL-Ready is a European Commission-funded HORIZON2020 project addressing the multiple challenges that agricultural systems are facing today, including climate change, biodiversity loss, dwindling resources, and degradation of soil and water quality.

During the meeting, LifeWatch ERIC presented the Agroecology Virtual Lab for Living Labs and Research Infrastructure as a key e-tool to boost the acceleration of the Agroecology transition in the EU, by promoting networking and interaction among the Agroecology community. A training session was also given to the pilot members of the network to test the performance of the first version of the application.

LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Virtual Lab provides seamless access to all services that the Agroecology community might need (e.g., data collection, sharing and visualisation) to collaborate and co-create new knowledge. These different functionalities will not only allow the community to work with data in a more efficient way, but boost innovative collaboration pathways between Agroecology stakeholders (Living Labs, Research Infrastructures, end-users, policy-makers, citizens, etc.).

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