Creating and maintaining a strong network for European research cooperation is high on the EU agenda. Helping drive this effort is OPENAIRE ('Open access infrastructure for research in Europe'), a project encouraging and supporting free online access to knowledge generated by researchers with grants from the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the European Research Council (ERC). The European Commission launched OPENAIRE in Ghent, Belgium, on 2 December. Coordinated by the University of Athens in Greece, OPENAIRE has clinched EUR 4.17 million to build support structures for researchers, set up and run an electronic infrastructure for handling peer-reviewed articles, and cooperate with communities to deposit, access and manage research datasets. The 38 OPENAIRE partners will contribute significantly to advancing the Digital Agenda objectives, which include strengthening the ERA through knowledge sharing and increasing competitiveness in Europe. Research areas receiving particular attention within the Agenda include energy, environment, health, social sciences and humanities, and information and communication technologies (ICT). One of the most critical components of the OPENAIRE project is to give researchers, businesses and citizens free and open access to EU-funded research papers. For example, scientists will be able to follow up on the latest developments in their field, and patients with rare illnesses will have a carte blanche to review up-to-the-minute research results. 'The launch of OPENAIRE marks a very concrete step towards sharing the results of EU-funded research to our mutual benefit,' explains European Commission Vice-President, and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes. 'Scientific information has the power to transform our lives for the better - it is too valuable to be locked away. In addition, every EU citizen has the right to access and benefit from knowledge produced using public funds.' Each year, more than 2 million research articles are published in 25,000 peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings worldwide. But only around 17.5% of these articles are available in Open Access repositories or Open Access journals. In order to access the rest of the articles, readers must either subscribe to a publication or pay via a 'pay per read' plan. Under FP7, around 10,000 projects have been funded in the last 3 years. Researchers supported by these grants must deposit the full text of their research publications in an open access repository within 6 or 12 months, making it permanently available across the globe. The OPENAIRE infrastructure is also helping devise new methods of indexing, annotating, ordering and linking research results, as well as automating processes. With these activities in mind, OPENAIRE will contribute to the development of fresh services on top of the information infrastructure which it offers. OPENAIRE is operating a helpdesk in 27 countries across Europe to give researchers the support they need to make their articles available online. Commenting on the OPENAIRE and its role in research, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: 'Scientists need access to research results if they are to maximise the potential of further work in the same areas. Industry, not least SMEs, need to know where to find research results if they are to build on them to create jobs and improve the quality of life. OPENAIRE will be an important contribution to improving the circulation of scientific knowledge in Europe and thus to developing a true Innovation Union.'