ELIXIR’s technical activities are nominally divided into five Platforms (Box 1). However, there is significant overlap and the resulting interfaces between Platforms are ripe for collaborative exploration. In November 2021, the Data and Interoperability Platforms held their first joint face-to-face meeting resulting in noteworthy progress, highlighting the benefits of creative collaboration.
Box 1 - The five ELIXIR technical Platforms
The joint meeting was held in hybrid format, with 20 in-person attendees gathering in Padova, Italy and 80 attendees joining remotely. The aim of the meeting was to bring together experts from the two Platforms and other related ELIXIR groups to catalyse collaboration on key topics and coordinate activities relating to current and future strategic goals.
During their three days together, participants made major advances on their collective Platform objectives. An event highlight was the panel discussion Working the International FAIR Landscape featuring Mark Wilkinson, Marco Roos, Patrick Ruch, Carole Goble, and Susanna-Assunta Sansone which can be viewed on the ELIXIR YouTube channel.
Bringing together a wide range of experts enabled the formation of new collaborative alliances, for example between RDMkit and the FAIR Cookbook and between RDMkit and the ELIXIR Health Data Focus Group.
The dedicated interaction time also led to progress on fundamental challenges, including the establishment of a framework for refining definitions of ELIXIR data resources (for example, ELIXIR Core Data Resources, ELIXIR Deposition Databases, Community and Aggregated Database and Registries). In addition, task forces were formed to revise the selection criteria and processes for ELIXIR Recommended Interoperability Resources and Core Data Resources, laying strong foundations for productive implementation.
The hybrid format was well received, with in-person attendees reporting an overwhelmingly positive experience, noting the benefits of renewed social aspect and dedicated time to focus on the event. Hybrid teleconferencing made participation possible for many people who would have been otherwise unable to attend. Despite the success, lessons were learnt about hosting a hybrid meeting which have been shared with the ELIXIR Hub, for example in areas of agenda setting, technical equipment requirements and logistics.
Overall, the event demonstrated that valuable advances can be made by successfully navigating interfaces, be they between different Platforms or between face-to-face and virtual participation. The Data and Interoperability Platforms are discussing making the gathering an annual event and look forward to building on the many new relationships forged.
For further information please contact gavin.farrell [at] elixir-europe.org (Gavin Farrell). A detailed report of the event is available on Zenodo.