The new EU-funded project D4Science-II ('Data infrastructure ecosystem for science') held its kick-off meeting in Pisa, Italy, on 13-16 October. It is set to establish 'virtual research environments' that will offer significantly enhanced services to scientists without high development and maintenance costs. The project is a continuation of the EU-funded pan-European communication infrastructure for researchers, GEANT, and the EGEE ('Enabling grids for e-science'), DILIGENT ('Digital library infrastructure on grid enabled technology') and D4Science projects, all aimed at establishing networking grid-based and data-centric e-infrastructures with the ultimate goal of providing scientists with virtual research environments that can generate and disseminate unlimited scientific and technical knowledge. Virtual research environments are frameworks that allow research to take place digitally, enabling researchers to handle enormous amounts of information and data. The frameworks consist of a number of services and systems that allow for the simultaneous operation of many different components of the research process. D4Science-ll has received EUR 4.3 million of EU funding. It will be led by ERCIM (European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics) and scientific coordination will be carried out by CNR, Italy's National Research Council. Partners include the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Dr Donatella Castelli, scientific coordinator at CNR said, 'Individual resources will be harnessed and aggregated for a multiplicative effect on information availability, processing power, and more importantly scientific perspective; the much desired knowledge ecology finally obtains life within and is fed by e-infrastructures' ecosystems.' D4Science-ll will bring together several e-infrastructures that are already established in the areas of high-energy physics, biodiversity, fisheries and aquaculture resources management. These established systems will be used to set up a prototype of an e-infrastructure ecosystem. D4Science-ll will include the GENESI-DR (Ground European Network for Earth Science Interoperations - Digital Repositories) and DRIVER (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research) repository e-infrastructures and important thematic repositories maintained by international organisations that are also focused on creating environmental spatial information. The main clients of the new virtual research environment technology seen in D4Science-ll will be scientists, researchers, policymakers, governments and international organisations worldwide.