-to further scientific contacts between researchers and to arrive at more efficient planning of research projects by means of a systematic survey of all ongoing projects
-to identify trends in biotechnology research in the EU member states for the benefit of funding and science policy bodies, to point up any gaps in research and to prevent duplication
-to provide a basis for coordination and planning of research in the field of biotechnology at the national level and to stimulate cooperation between national bodies and institutions in the EU which are responsible for biotechnology research
Data collection and quality control
During the first 10 months of the project about 3340 projects from 8 EU countries have been revised or newly entered. In the second stage of the project again 4000 project from 10 countries have been captured, which will gradually become available online within the first three months after termination of the contract; linking of BIOREP and other factual databases to the three major commercial scientific literature databases - CAB Abstracts, PASCAL and EMBASE - is planned under the biotechnology information infrastructure demonstration project ADLIB (Advanced Database Linkages In Biotechnology). In order to warrant nearly instantaneous processing of submitted data, data processing logistics has been optimized through the implementation of a new production database (Windows/Access) - a bug-free database management system has been completed - and a computer-assisted indexing system (CAI) on the basis of the BIOREP thesaurus.
During the contract period, due attention has been given to:
- Completion of the EU network: redefinition of the focal point in Germany (ongoing; GSF - Research Center for Environment and Health near Munich is a candidate), the establishment of INIST, Nancy as the focal point for BIOREP in France (a working agreement has been signed and first data submission is approaching) and in the new EU member states Austria, Sweden and Finland. Austria is preparing a joint focal point for BIOREP and AGREP; contact points for Sweden and Finland are NFR, the Swedish Natural Science Research Council, and VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland, respectively.
- Participation in the Biotechnology Information Strategic Forum Group (BTSF) and in the ADLIB project
- Geographical extension beyond the EU (Switzerland, Central and Eastern Europe). Switzerland already submits on a voluntary basis risk assessment research projects and is preparing official participation. A proposal has been submitted for an information infrastructure project with Central and Eastern Europe with the acronym JEWELNET (Biotech Joint East-West Expertise: Linkages, Networking, Education and Training)
- The national focal points together with the BIOREP management team constitute the BIOREP Advisory Group. As BIOREP will no longer be operated on a stand-alone basis, future meetings will be coordinated with the ADLIB meetings and workshops
- Collaboration with AGREP (DG VI): agreement has been reached on closer links in the near future; reports and other information are exchanged. Both databases are available on DIMDI and may be consulted simultaneously through the SUPERBASE structure.
Accessibility and dissemination
An important milestone has been the launching of BIOREP on the Internet (address: http://www.library.knaw.nl). Title and abstract in English, project leader, duration and full address are displayed. In several sections also general information on the project is given. During the first year of its existence, the site was accessed 6209 times, and the number of searches increased gradually to the average level of 52 per week.
BIOREP has been on-line available on DIMDI since the 1st of July 1994. The database is licence-free, but people have to pay the regular DIMDI charges. Until lately 10,729 records have been retrieved in 162 searches. In concertation with DIMDI and the ADLIB management team usage will be stimulated and intensively monitored; reference points will be further update rounds, linking to the major literature databases, full availability of all ADLIB data packages and subsequent user trials.
In the user study rather high scores were obtained for coverage, accessibility, data quality and the userfriendliness of the Internet application, whereas currency of the data and userfriendliness of DIMDI rated lower.
The user study has provided insight into the market potential for desk products in addition to on-line accessibility: about one-third of all potential users may be reached with a mix of products like diskette, CD-ROM and printed directory. Pricing will have to be critically examined in relation to the cost for development, marketing and user support.
Publicity and marketing
Promotion of BIOREP during the 7th European Congress on Biotechnology (ECB7) has been very successful. A lot of interest was noted, particularly from the pharmaceutical industry.
The subsequent two BIOREP Newsletters (issues 7 and 8) focused on a User Study and its results. Awareness of the database, particularly with the bioindustry, will be raised under ADLIB. Ongoing promotion actions are: messages in the BIOREP-L list on the Internet in combination with updating of general information and database, messages in national magazines, and measuring the impact on the basis of user statistics (Internet, DIMDI) and taking actions where necessary.