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IP/11/522

Brussels, 3 May 2011

Three new EU research infrastructures on biological sciences will help tackle climate change, disease and threats to food supply

Research Ministers and the European Commission have given the green light to three new pan-European biological science research infrastructures. These extensive new facilities will help boost research and innovation on key societal challenges such as climate change, health and maintaining sufficient supplies of high quality food. The three projects will draw on resources pooled between various Member States and on EU funding. Once complete, they will be open for use by researchers from across the EU and in some cases beyond. France will coordinate an infrastructure for studying how ecosystems respond to environment and land-use changes. The United Kingdom will lead in setting up an infrastructure on systems biology with applications expected in the pharmaceutical, healthcare and agricultural sectors. The third new infrastructure, to be developed in France and Germany, will significantly enhance pan-European access to viruses, bacteria and fungi needed for research on infections affecting humans and crops, as well as for research on bio-security. These infrastructures are part of the updated Roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) issued today. The overall investment for their construction is about € 0.7 billion.

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said: "Pooling national and EU resources to build pan-European research infrastructures – rather than each Member State simply going it alone – is common sense and a key part of the EU's Innovation Union plan. These collaborative efforts create economies of scale, boost EU competitiveness and deliver better value for money for taxpayers. The biological science infrastructures we are announcing today can make a major contribution to tackling some of the toughest problems we face, including climate change and threats to human health and to our food supplies."

Today's latest additions to the ESFRI Roadmap also include three energy infrastructure projects already announced in November 2010 (see IP/10/1615).

Three new research infrastructures in biological sciences

Biogeochemical cycles together with biodiversity are vital to climate change and food security issues. The Infrastructure for Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems (ANAEE), coordinated by France, will overcome the current fragmentation of ecosystem research in Europe and develop a coordinated set of experimental platforms to analyse, detect and forecast the responses of ecosystems to environmental changes, and to develop appropriate management techniques. For the first time, the project will bring together the major experimental analytical and modelling facilities in ecosystems science in Europe. This will help in understanding terrestrial ecosystems, and the potential impact of climate change. The infrastructure will be in operation from 2015 onwards.

The estimated costs for preparation and construction are € 210 million. Institutions from 20 Member States and Associated Countries are supporting this project.

Contact for ANAEE:
Lise Poulet, Chef du service Presse-Opinion
Tel + 33 1 42 75 91 68
Mobile + 33 6 89 33 80 11,
lise.poulet@paris.inra.fr

The Infrastructure for Systems Biology-Europe (ISBE), coordinated by the United Kingdom, aims to support the convergence of life sciences with information technology and system science. In particular it will focus on systems biology connecting the best European research skills, repositories for storing and archiving data and models. This will enable researchers to address how the interaction of biological components leads to the functioning of living organisms and to create models representing these interactions. System biology will have applications in medicine, such as in the design of pharmaceuticals but also an impact on agriculture, healthcare and environment. ISBE will be in operation from 2017 on. The estimated total construction cost is about € 300 million. Organisations from 13 Member States and Associated Countries have demonstrated interest in this infrastructure.

Contact for ISBE:
Richard Kitney, Imperial College London
Tel +44 0 2075945184, R.kitney@imperial.ac.uk

The EU Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (MIRRI), coordinated by France and to be developed in France and Germany, will improve access to the best microbial resources, i.e. strains of viruses, bacteria and fungi which are the essential raw material for biotechnology. This will have a strong impact on research in the agricultural, food, healthcare and biotechnological sectors. Applications range from research on crop pathogens for sanitary and animal health reasons to research on human pathogens and bio security. MIRRI will build the European platform within the future Global Biological Resource Centre Network (GBRCN) for microorganisms. Operation of the infrastructure should start in 2014. The total construction cost is budgeted at approximately € 190 million. Institutions from 24 Member States and Associated Countries are supporting this project.

Contact for MIRRI:
David Smith, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Tel +49 0 531 5962298,
D.smith@cabi.org

Background

The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) was set up in 2002 after the European Council endorsed a Commission working document proposing the new Forum (see IP/02/621). It comprises senior officials nominated by the Research Ministers of the 27 EU Member States and 10 Associated countries (Albania, Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey). ESFRI also includes a senior official from the European Commission. The current chair, elected for two years, is Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph (Germany).

The first ESFRI Roadmap was published in 2006. In all, there are 48 infrastructures in the updated Roadmap (see Annex). Of these, 10 are currently under construction at a cost of about 3.6 billion and a further 38 are foreseen. Sixteen of those are proceeding so well that construction could start by the end of 2012, thus achieving the EU's Innovation Union goal of starting to build 60% of the ESFRI infrastructures by 2015. The total construction cost for all the facilities in the Roadmap is estimated at some €16 billion and the operational cost would be around €1.6 billion per year.

Over the next decade ESFRI will focus mainly on the practical implementation of the infrastructures identified in the Roadmap. It will also strengthen cooperation with European research and innovation organizations and with European industry. The Forum also intends to develop an evaluation methodology for pan-European Research Infrastructures.

The ESFRI Research infrastructures are financed primarily with national funds, with support from EU budgets.

The EU's 7th Framework Programme for Research allocates for the period 2007-13 a budget of €1.7 billion to support research infrastructures, both existing and new. About € 560 million, including a € 200 million contribution to the Risk Sharing Finance Facility, of this is specifically dedicated to new infrastructures. So far about €171 million has been allocated to projects on the ESFRI Road Map for their preparatory phase. About €22.5 million has been set aside for the energy and biological science infrastructures recently added to the Roadmap.

Additional funds of up to € 10 billion are available from EU Structural Funds. Support for the construction of research infrastructures can also be obtained from the European Investment Bank in the form of loans.

Summary of links

More information about ESFRI: http://ec.europa.eu/research/esfri

More information about the Innovation Union:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/innovation-union/index_en.cfm

European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/geoghegan-quinn/index_en.htm


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