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European Commission


Brussels, 29 November 2013

European Commission awards EU legal status to four research infrastructures

The European Commission has awarded the “European Research Infrastructure Consortium status” (ERIC status) to four consortia in the fields of health and social sciences research. The decision simplifies their management procedures and allows for further advancement of their research.

Although Member States remain the main contributors to the setting up and operation of these transnational bodies, up to €37.5 million has been provided in support of the preparation of those four facilities under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Further financial support is expected under Horizon 2020 -the next funding programme for Research and Innovation that will run from 2014 to 2020- to support the implementation and operation of these and other world class research infrastructures.

Overall, Research Infrastructures had a budget of €1.7 billion under FP7. This figure has been increased to €2.3 billion in Horizon 2020 (including e-Infrastructures).

The four nominated ERIC infrastructures are:

ECRIN - building a common platform for pan-European clinical research

The European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network (ERIC) is designed to provide a European not-for-profit platform to support the academic research community. It will enable multinational cooperation in investigator-driven clinical research, providing access to patients throughout Europe with a major impact on science and health at national, European and global levels.

National clinical research networks participating in ECRIN currently cover 14 European countries, representing about 400 million citizens. They reach critical mass both at their country level and at the European level. ECRIN fosters transfer of best research practice all over Europe and across disciplines and is progressively expanding throughout Europe, with the support of a capacity building program facilitating the structuring of national networks and hubs.

France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain are members and the headquarters will be located in Paris (France).

BBMRI - putting together bio-banks and bio-molecular resources

Biological resources, such as cells, tissues or biomolecules are considered as the essential raw material for the advancement of biotechnology, human health, and for research and development in life sciences. BBMRI, the pan-European Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure, improves the accessibility and interoperability of the existing comprehensive collections of biological samples from different populations of Europe. These include data on factors such as health status, nutrition, lifestyle, and environmental exposure of the study subjects. Combined with the expertise of the clinicians, pathologists, bio-informaticians, and molecular biologists a Europe-wide platform for translational medical research will be built with the aim to develop personalised medicine and disease prevention for the benefit of European citizens.

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Finland, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands and Sweden are members of BBMRI. The headquarters will be located in Graz (Austria).

ESS - exploring social attitudes in a changing Europe

What are the thoughts, hopes and fears of Europeans? How do they perceive the responses to the multiple crises? Do they trust the media, the courts, the government? The European Social Survey (ESS), measures changes in public attitudes and behaviour patterns both over time and across nations. Based on interviews across 36 countries, the online database of this infrastructure reflects how Europeans view their environment and how their values and perceptions are changing.

The ESS has now been developed into an infrastructure that has attracted about 60,000 registered users. Their findings feed into a broad range of scientific and policy papers.

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom are members of the ESS. Norway and Switzerland are observers. The headquarters will be located in London (United Kingdom).

EATRIS - bridging the gap between medical research and clinical applications

The European Advanced Translational Research Infrastructure in Medicine (EATRIS) will help turning biomedical research into useful therapies. EATRIS will accelerate the development process for drugs and diagnostics with an unmet medical need and raise the quality of life for Europeans.

This distributed infrastructure has been created through a strong consortium of translational centres across Europe. 60 prominent academic institutions are part of this initiative, with the aim to ensure that biomedical research is translated into products: vaccines, biologics and advanced therapies, gene and cell therapies, regenerative medicine, biomarkers, etc. EATRIS will turn the progress that has been made in the field of biomedical research into medical innovations which have substantial benefits for patients. EATRIS work will be particularly beneficial to sufferers of rare diseases, as more products and treatments will become available to more people at a lower cost.

The members of this infrastructure are the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands and Finland. Spain and France are observers. The headquarters will be located in Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

Background information on the ERIC status

The Council adopted the ERIC Regulation in 2009. This specific legal instrument gives a legal personality recognised in all Member States. It can also benefit from VAT and excise duty exemption, and may adopt its own procurement procedures. It is a flexible legal instrument for establishing pan-European Research Infrastructures without having to go through a lengthy process of ratification by the Members -as would be the case as for traditional international organisations-.

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