The United Kingdom is investing in a European project

The investment of 11.4 million euros from the British Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) on behalf of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) should aggressively assert its storage capacity.

This substantial investment will help fuel the success of ELIXIR (’European life-science infrastructure for biological information’), a large-scale, EU-funded, data-storage project.

ELIXIR, initially funded with EUR 4.5 million through the ‘Infrastructures’ Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), was set up to address the lack of stable funding for Europe’s scientific data resources, such as original genomic data. Its mission is to create and operate a sustainable infrastructure for biological information in Europe. The project partners believe that the information captured and made available by the project will underpin advances in medicine, environmental science, biotechnology, agriculture and food science.

The incredible volumes of biological data being generated daily throughout Europe will be of most benefit to the research community if it can be accessed easily and stored indefinitely. For example, new ‘high-throughput’ methods of genome sequencing work so quickly and are of such potential value across several disciplines that an adaptable, large-scale storage system is increasingly in demand. Without it, the data could potentially be lost.

ELIXIR, a pan-European infrastructure will require the long-term input and support of leading EU-based bioinformatics facilities. The cost of the project is estimated at more than EUR 228 million. In June, the Swedish Government was the first to secure long-term funding for the project by contributing SEK 19 million (EUR 1.7 million) through the Swedish Bioinformatics Infrastructure for Life Sciences (BILS).

EBI, a UK facility that is part of the Germany-based European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), expects to act as the central ‘hub’ for ELIXIR. The project will use modern supercomputing and grid technologies to create a robust storage environment for the data, which will be captured from thousands of labs. The data will then need to be maintained and organised so that it is accessible for current and future generations of life-science researchers.

The new funding will make it possible for EBI to develop its existing data resources and IT infrastructure so that it can prepare to handle these daunting tasks.


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