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Ireland joins international research organisation - ELIXIR

Researchers and Companies gain access to European infrastructure for sharing life science data

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., and Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan T.D, have announced today (Friday) that Ireland has joined ELIXIR, the international research organisation for the Life Sciences. Ireland has become ELIXIR’s nineteenth member.

Developments in genome sequencing have led to a rapid growth in life science data. ELIXIR, the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information, is creating an infrastructure that integrates research data from across Europe and ensures that it is easily accessible to members. ELIXIR has been awarded €19 million from Horizon 2020, the European Union’s programme to support research and innovation, to accelerate the implementation of Europe’s life science data infrastructure over the next four years.

Commenting on the membership, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., said “My department has invested significantly and consistently over many years, through our agencies, in the life sciences; as a consequence, Ireland now has world-leading capability in this field. Membership of ELIXIR will allow us to capitalise on this accomplishment, to develop it further and to strengthen our international research collaboration in the Life Sciences.

Joining ELIXIR delivers one of the key actions in Innovation 2020, our national strategy for research and development, science and technology”

Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan T.D., said that “ELIXIR’s success in securing funding from Horizon 2020, underscores its strategic importance for the EU. I particularly welcome the fact that a key part of ELIXIR’s mission is supporting industry and stimulating innovation, and that a core objective of the ELIXIR Industry strategy is to support SMEs. Companies in Ireland will now benefit from this EU infrastructure by availing of the services that ELIXIR provides.”

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, said “Membership of ELIXIR will allow for the leveraging and safeguarding of national investment in biological research by ensuring that data are safely stored, integrated and openly accessed by everyone through sustained set of core resources. Important new discoveries will occur from the scientific analysis of these large aggregated “Big Data” sets, which in turn will lead to new products to improved health, agriculture and the environment. Membership will enhance opportunities for Irish based researchers to compete for further competitive EU Horizon 2020 funding and create beneficial European collaborations.”

Dr Niklas Blomberg, Director of ELIXIR said, “I am delighted that Ireland has progressed to become a full Member in ELIXIR, and I look forward to working with the Irish community to fully integrate the Node into ELIXIR’s activities. Ireland’s expertise in bioinformatics, systems biology and data analysis will benefit both the local research community in Ireland and the wider life science community across Europe.” 

NOTES TO THE EDITORS

ELIXIR unites Europe’s leading life science organisations in managing and safeguarding the increasing volume of data being generated by publicly funded research. The goal of ELIXIR is to orchestrate the collection, quality control and archiving of large amounts of biological data produced by life science experiments. Some of these datasets are highly specialised and would previously only have been available to researchers within the country in which they were generated.

ELIXIR coordinates, integrates and sustains bioinformatics resources across its member states and enables users in academia and industry to access vital data, tools, standards, compute and training services for their research.

For the first time, ELIXIR is creating an infrastructure that integrates research data from all corners of Europe and ensures a seamless service provision that is easily accessible to all. In this way, open access to these rapidly expanding and critical datasets will facilitate discoveries that benefit humankind.

ELIXIR’s structure is based on a hub and nodes model: the hub provides an administrative governance structure and the nodes (national or international research institutes from ELIXIR Members) that enter into an agreement with the Hub, play a leading role in the provision of technical services.

ELIXIR services, most of which are run from ELIXIR Nodes, include: data resources, tools, compute provision, standards development and training.

ELIXIR supports industry by promoting open innovation and the adoption of standards. This reduces barriers between information sharing and helps facilitate cross-company research partnerships.

For further information on ELIXIR, see www.elixir-europe.org

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