Research Infrastructure mobilisation in response to COVID-19

COVID-19

In a virtual workshop on 11 May 2021, hosted by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) and Science Europe, Chief Executive Officer Christos Arvanitidis spoke about how LifeWatch ERIC has contributed to answering critical questions that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, including collaboration and data sharing between Research Infrastructures (RIs). COVID-19 had a substantial impact on the operations of analytical facilities that serve external users, for example.

At a time in which physical access to RIs has been restricted, Dr Arvanitidis said, LifeWatch has been able to offer a collaborative computing environment that is secure, accurate and transparent, delivering continuity and versioning control. Some projects, like the Internal Joint Initiative, have continued as in-house “in remote-working”, other projects have been “fast-tracked” for high priority research.

EOSC Future, ENVRI-FAIR and the ERIC Forum are some of the European RI projects that have benefited from LifeWatch ERIC’s input, resources, building of commonalities or provision of collaboration spaces. “We are proud to have enabled access to other RIs in these difficult times. We have accelerated the diffusion of data and results, and supported policy actions to enable RIs to mobilise effectively. After all, we’re all in the same boat,” said Dr Arvanitidis.

Click here for the presentation slides.    

Steps forward for Research Infrastructure collaboration at EuroGOOS Conference

9th EUROGOOS CONFERENCE

The 9th EuroGOOS International Conference took place online from 3-5 May 2021, and saw the participation of hundreds of scientists, technologists and policymakers involved in ocean observation technologies. The full name of the conference was “Advances in Operational Oceanography – Expanding Europe’s Ocean Observing and Forecasting Capacity”, in light of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and as the marine domain is one of its specialised fields, LifeWatch ERIC was delighted to participate in the side event “Cooperation Framework between Marine Research Infrastructures” (RIs).

Eleven marine RIs took part, with each infrastructure giving a short presentation before leaving the floor open to discuss how to bolster RI cooperation moving forward, also with a view to better supporting the roll-out of the European Green Deal. LifeWatch ERIC CEO Christos Arvanitidis presented several ideas and projects designed to foster collaboration between RIs and the research sector more generally, among which the ERIC FORUM, EOSC Future and the LifeWatch ERIC Internal Joint Initiative, along with its technical integration layer provided by the innovative developments of Tesseract and LifeBlock. Critically, he identified the principal challenge facing RIs as cultural: the difficult task of reshaping the overriding scientific praxis from individualistic to collaborative. The desired result would be a dynamic networking synthesis, and here Christos quoted E. O. Wilson of Harvard University: “jumping together of knowledge by the linking of facts and fact-evidenced theory across disciplines to create common ground of explanation“. He finally focused on the essential step that needs to be taken regarding the identification and investments in areas of common RI interest, in other words, joint investments in their “trading zones“, the most promising areas for scientific research and technological innovation.

Participants recognised benefits of enhanced RI cooperation as being strength in numbers – having a louder voice, more opportunities and larger visibility – as well as the all-important reduction in workload overlap and cost. Increased cohesion would also give rise to opportunities such as the possibility to provide joint education and training programmes for scientists. Due to the vast range of services provided and the complexity of wide-scale collaboration, the RIs were quick in identifying data and service compatibility and integration as the main potential issue, noting however that the cutting-edge work being carried out by LifeWatch ERIC – particularly on the Tesseract platform for building Virtual Research Environments  – could be key to boosting interoperability and integration.

After a fruitful discussion, the members concluded that the best course of action was increased training and exchange between RIs, in terms of communication, personnel and projects, in order to fill network and knowledge gaps. Christos reiterated that RIs require the support of the research community and the community of practice at large in order to succeed, as well as the importance of promoting cross-domain research and co-developing common platforms. All in all, participants were enthusiastic about the idea of drafting a joint White Paper in order to define key shared objectives and consolidate a common strategy for marine RIs. Stay tuned!

Towards a Comprehensive & Integrated Strategy of the European Marine Research Infrastructures for Ocean Observations

Strategy European Marine Research Infrastructures

LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director Alberto Basset and CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda have contributed to a recently-published paper that addresses today’s environmental challenges, entitled “Towards a Comprehensive & Integrated Strategy of the European Marine Research Infrastructures for Ocean Observations”, published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Addressing environmental challenges is crucial for humanity and for life on Earth, and will depend on accurate information about fundamental processes in the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere, and their interactions. Marine Research Infrastructures (RIs) are key tools for understanding these complexities and interrelationships through multi-, inter-disciplinary approaches, because they constitute a dynamic long-term infrastructure framework, supported by European and national funds, to facilitate research, and provide highly accurate data and services.

Collaboration is essential to provide solutions to complex issues that cannot be solved by one partner alone. Europe has the resources and capacity to make comprehensive ocean observations for the benefit of society, and collaboration between RIs is emphasizing the development of multi-sensor technologies and the adoption of multi-parameter and interoperable methodologies for integrated and sustained marine observations. Click here to download the article.

European Research Infrastructures for a smarter future

When the ‘European Research Infrastructures for a smarter future’ conference, originally planned for 19–20 March in Zagreb by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education, had to be cancelled because of public health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, a digital conference sprang up to take its place. Held online on Friday 15 May, 2020, the international event attracted representatives of Research Infrastructures and policy makers from all over Europe.

LifeWatch ERIC CEO Christos Arvanitidis featured as the first contributor to the morning panel on ‘Research Infrastructures and the European strategic agendas – Green Deal and Energy Transition’. Research Infrastructures, he argued, are organically linked to the European Green Deal Roadmap objectives, as they are tools for science offering the ideal environment to boost integration, community de-fragmentation, and innovation and growth. This, together with cross-domain integration, is of a key relevance on the road towards cleaner energy, more sustainable industry and mobility, reducing pollution and preserving biodiversity. Disruptive technologies also play a pivotal role in addressing the above goals. LifeWatch ERIC, for instance, offers blockchain technology for linking and managing open access data (LifeBlock) and develops the technical layer for the composability of its web services (LifeWatch ERIC Tesseract) towards reproducible analytics. Both technologies play an instrumental role in advancing science and in breaking current barriers between disciplines.

“Research Infrastructures will be critical in assisting the European Union to deliver on commitments to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and deliver science based and nature based solutions to global challenges” he said. “The challenges we are facing are at the same time scientific, technical, societal, cultural, therefore further progress will depend on breaking through traditional barriers and effecting a change in our culture. Synergies at national and regional levels, with industry and business, will be better able to capitalise on this synthetic knowledge, as has been demonstrated in Andalusia, with the ERDF recources”.

The panel on The Green Deal and Energy Transition, was moderated by Inmaculada Figueroa, Vice Deputy Director General for the Internationalisation of Science and Innovation, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain and ESFRI Vice-Chair, and also featured interventions from Sverre Quale, Director of ECCSEL ERIC; Tonci Tadic, Head of the Croatian Fusion Unit at the Ruder Boškovič Institute; and Jana Kolar, Executive Director of CERIC-ERIC. Click here for details of the ESFRI White Paper ‘Making Science Happen’.

The conference continued touching other key topics for Research Infrastructures their contribution for Regional Development and in the fight against COVID-19, presenting ESFRI White Paper ‘Making Science Happen – a new ambition for Research Infrastructures in the European Research Area’, leading to the policy panel European Research Infrastructures for a smarter future.

Presentation: 

Christos Arvanitidis, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Alberto Basset & Peter Van Tienderen – “Opportunities the European Green Deal and Energy Union provide for RIs”.