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EuBI PPII Report Summary

Project ID: 688945
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EuBI PPII (Euro-BioImaging Preparatory Phase II - Project)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Euro-BioImaging (EuBI) is the pan-European research infrastructure project for imaging technologies in biological and medical sciences. It has been on the ESFRI Roadmap since 2008 and is currently supported by 16 countries and one intergovernmental organisation.

From December 2010 until May 2014, EuBI successfully completed its EU FP7-funded Preparatory Phase I, which addressed key technical and strategic questions and provided a blueprint for infrastructure implementation. Subsequently, 14 countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom), and one intergovernmental organization (EMBL) signed the EuBI Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly take the remaining steps towards the establishment of a legal entity for Euro-BioImaging. Delegations of the MoU signatories – which with time increased from 15 to 17, comprising also Austria and Hungary – constituted the EuBI Interim Board (IB) and gave start to the so-called “Interim Phase”, which was kicked-off in June 2014 and was funded by Member States’ contributions. During the Interim Phase, the IB identified the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) as the appropriate legal model for EuBI. With the aim of finalizing the legal, financial, managerial and technical documents, tools and operational procedures for the EuBI ERIC, the EuBI Preparatory Phase II (PPII) project was launched in January 2016.

Imaging technologies are developing extremely rapidly, allowing to push further the boundaries of science and to address biological and medical questions that were thought to be beyond reach only a decade ago. EuBI aims to provide open access to state-of-the-art imaging technologies to European scientists, who via this infrastructure will have access to instruments that are not available at their home institution. This will enable more scientific discoveries, a greater number of innovation and technology developments and collaborations between researchers, clinicians and industry throughout Europe. Greatly improved research conditions for life scientists will increase European competitiveness, open new research fields and fundamentally advance the molecular understanding of health and disease. In general, it is expected that the future EuBI ERIC will strengthen the technology development capacity, scientific performance, efficiency and attractiveness of the European Research Area.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first reporting period of the EuBI PPII project, several key activities have taken place and major results were obtained.

At the legal and political level, extensive negotiations on the EuBI ERIC statutes took place within the Interim Board, leading to their final approval in January 2017 and paving the way for the submission of the EuBI ERIC application to the EC. The Hub-hosting members have been identified and the 1st generation of EuBI Nodes has been ratified by the Interim Board. A template of Service Level Agreement for the collaboration between the EuBI Hub and Nodes has also been defined and on its basis the negotiations between the Hub and each individual Node will be conducted after the EuBI ERIC is launched. Finally, the IB Member States have agreed on the EuBI ERIC financial contribution scheme and on the budget for EuBI Hub operation. Financial sustainability for the EuBI ERIC is included in the approved statutes and commitments by the ERIC Member States are expected to be made during the 2nd reporting period.

At the administrative and operational level, the management structure of the future EuBI ERIC has been defined on the basis of a Hub proposal (approved by the IB before project start, in October 2015) and of the ERIC statutes. The Hub management structure and the provision of basic services to the scientific community are being tested during a phase called EuBI Interim Operation (IO). In this test-phase scientists can apply to EuBI via an interim Web Access Portal (iWAP) to obtain open access to the imaging technologies offered by the future EuBI Nodes. The detailed description of all positions of the EuBI ERIC including their responsibilities and reporting lines as well as all internal policies required for EuBI ERIC operation are being drafted.

At the technical and scientific level, the Euro-BioImaging consortium has made significant progresses in building the Image Data Resource (IDR), an online, public data repository that stores, integrates and serves image datasets from published scientific studies. The IDR is currently available online and can also be accessed via the iWAP. Work towards building the Image Resource Portal (IRP), a user-facing portal listing the available software tools for image processing and analysis has also been started. Procedures and tools that will allow the coordination of training activities for EuBI users and Core Facility Staff (CFS) at the future EuBI Nodes as well as maintaining up-to-date the portfolio of technologies offered by the future EuBI infrastructure have been identified.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The Euro-BioImaging ERIC is expected to have a significant impact on the European Research Area as a whole.

By harmonizing existing and future imaging infrastructure across different Member States, EuBI ERIC will make sure no country falls behind in the rapid development of imaging technologies and will offer all European scientists the highest-quality access to imaging technologies and services. EuBI is expected to foster commitment across Europe at the Member States level to ensure long-term engagement and financial support to national imaging infrastructures. In fact, this process started during the 1st Preparatory Phase and over the past 8 years several national imaging communities were able to formulate national infrastructure plans and mobilize investments.

It is also foreseen that the activities and scientific exchanges that will take place at the EuBI Nodes will boost a technology development environment, allowing new products, instrumentation and potentially even start-up companies to enter the market. In this regard, EuBI can already leverage on the existence of an Industry Board, that brings together 11 bio-optics and medical imaging companies (Leica, Nikon, Olympus, GE Healthcare, Hamamatsu, Philips, Zeiss, SVI, LIS, FEI, Photometrics, PCO).

Finally, at the international level, the Global BioImaging (GBI) project is channeling the enthusiasm of the scientific community towards the building of common services that guarantee open access to imaging technologies. Under the umbrella of the GBI project, experts from Australia, Argentina, South Africa, India, Japan and the United States of America, are gathering at workshops and training courses to learn from each other and build collaborations to further open and improve provision of imaging services to researchers world-wide. New international partners, such as Canada and Singapore, are also being identified and are demonstrating interest in the European approach of open science and scientific collaboration.

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