Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

VI-SEEM Report Summary

Project ID: 675121
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.4.1.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VI-SEEM (VRE for regional Interdisciplinary communities in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In the last decade, a number of initiatives were crucial for enabling high-quality research - by providing e- Infrastructure resources, application support and training - in both South East Europe (SEE) and Eastern Mediterranean (EM). They helped reduce the digital divide by ensuring access to regional e-Infrastructures to new member states, states on path to ascension, and states in European Neighborhood Policy area. Despite success of these projects, the SEEM region is still underprivileged compared to Western Europe in terms of available e-Infrastructure capacity as well as know-how; the actual access of the regional scientists to core pan-European e-Infrastructure is small compared to established EU research groups.
VI-SEEM brings together these regional e-Infrastructures to build capacity and better utilize synergies, for an improved service provision within a unified Virtual Research Environment (VRE) for the inter-disciplinary scientific user communities in the region. Overall objective is to provide user-friendly integrated e-Infrastructure platform for regional cross-border Scientific Communities in Climatology, Life Sciences, and Cultural Heritage; by linking compute, data, and visualization resources, as well as services, models, software and tools. This VRE aims to provide the scientists and researchers with the support in full lifecycle of collaborative research: accessing and sharing relevant research data, using it with provided codes and tools to carry out new experiments and simulations on large-scale eInfrastructures, and producing new knowledge and data - which can be stored and shared in the same VRE. VI-SEEM focuses on specific regional user communities of high impact to further the process of joining, sharing and exploiting the e-Infrastructure resources across the SEEM region; creating a unique VRE for regional interdisciplinary collaboration. This VRE aims to significantly leverage and strengthen the research capacities of these user communities and improve research productivity as well as competitiveness on the pan-European level.

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

Baseline set of e-Infrastructure services has been provided through the “e-Infrastructure services” activity: 22,816 CPU-cores, 759,296 GPU-cores, 18,300 Xeon Phi-cores, 3,112 Grid CPU-cores, 14,152 Cloud VM-cores, and 18 PB of storage space, with current levels of commitment of these resources to the project being around 10%. This large and heterogeneous set of services is managed by the 5 operational and resource management tools, deployed for efficient management of the available computing and storage resources.
“Data Management Lifecycle” activity deployed the specific data services: simple storage service; repository service; archival service; work storage space / local storage and data staging; data discovery service; data analysis service. The initial data services have been implemented, deployed, tested, and put in service, and 1st version of data sets collected, pre-processed and uploaded.
Activity on “Domain-specific services and support” specified and carried out a phased plan for the deployment of domain-specific services, tools and workflows, with 1st phase consisting of 10 applications (developing baseline service modules and domain-specific services) and 2nd including 16 applications. Most importantly the flagship Life Access Server, Clowder and ChemBioServer application level services were made available and populated with data sets. VRE platform was made publicly available at http://vre.vi-seem.eu/, listing different service modules, workflows and software tools, community datasets and application-level services. This activity also provided the data management plan and user-oriented documentation and training material for VRE services.
All the baseline e-Infrastructure services, data services, and domain-specific services are provided through the VI-SEEM service catalogue, available at https://vi-seem.eu/services/
The opening up of VRE platform was facilitated by the “Capacity building, open calls and sustainability” activity, which defined a process for providing users with access to VI-SEEM services, based on peer review. The 1st call for applications accessing the resources and services, (including application-specific services, provision of data sets, data management services and HPC services) attracted 23 applications of which 21 got awarded access. More than 14 Million CPU core hours, 3.4 Million GPU core hours, and 1 Million Phi core hours have been awarded. The aim was to open the VRE to the widest possible regional communities via an open, fair and transparent process that favours scientific excellence. For increased impact, further calls will be opened and supported in the second project period.
Outreach and impact was supported by 7 national dissemination events, 3 regional trainings and 7 national ones. The project and its services were presented at 26 external events. Crucially, 25 papers presenting VI-SEEM research and services were published (14 in Open Access journals). Promotional package has been produced and distributed and VI-SEEM web pages, VRE portal, Training portal (including reusable training material) and wiki along with social media and additional online tools are maintained and used, while the innovation strategy and activities resulted in 9 project innovative developments.

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 driving ambition and desired impact of VI-SEEM is to take leadership in enabling and supporting e-Infrastructure based research and innovation in the region for the three strategic regional user communities, advancing their work, as well as bridging the development gap with the rest of Europe. Researchers from the less-resourced countries of the region will be able to work on a par with their peers from the core of Europe and the world, have a unique regional platform to conduct their research across regional borders, and be able to advance the excellence in their research.
The impact is thus visible by both the increase in the scientific output and larger demand for e-Infrastructure resources, as well as of by the improved knowhow of the research groups regarding e-Infrastructure use. This expertise has been propagated to less-resourced countries, while existing e-Infrastructure installations have been given a development boost through resources and training. It is thus imperative that the momentum is maintained: goal being to enable the region to go beyond the current state and match the demand for and use of e-Infrastructures to that of the rest of Europe.
From the socio-economic point of view, an integrated e-Infrastructure can act as an effective instrument in integrating countries neighbouring Europe and bringing their scientific communities together. The ambition of the project is thus to network scientists from countries of Easter Partnership, Western Balkans, Israel and the ENP (European Neighbourhood Policy) Arab states, providing a proactive path in the implementation of the overall ENP. Building scientific links with Europe’s neighbouring countries will motivate and encourage collaboration, exchanges of people and knowledge transfer. The result of this will be to enlarge the trained human resources on which EU technology and industry can draw from. The ambition of the project is to spread science and technology and the sharing of European infrastructure to promote excellence and innovation in the SEEM area.

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