Why ELIXIR is needed

To manage the huge increase in life science data

  • The rise of high throughput technologies such as sequencing as well as many other technologies producing diverse, varied and complex data has meant that life science is producing huge amounts of data. Most research centres do not have the facilities to store or transfer this much data, nor the expertise to analyse them.
  • ELIXIR's Compute Platform is creating a network of supercomputer services that is making it easier for researchers to manage this ‘data deluge’. It enables researchers across Europe to use existing facilities to access, store, transfer and analyse large and complex datasets, in the cloud.
  • The Data Platform is establishing quality criteria for data resources, so researchers can more easily choose the best suited to their needs. The Platform also works to better link data and related literature.

To deal with the increasing complexity of data

  • Life science data exist in a wide range of formats, and are described in different ways. This makes it difficult to merge datasets and analyse the data. 
  • ELIXIR’s Interoperability Platform establishes standards that can be used to describe life science data, thereby making different datasets easier to compare and analyse together. The Training Platform helps researchers to identify the training they need, and runs courses on dealing with large and complex datasets.

To make it easier to find the right tools and training

  • Biological science increasingly involves large amounts of data and it is not easy to find the right software to analyse them. If a researcher finds the right software for what they want to do, they have to learn how to use it. For this, and handling large datasets in general, they need specialist training.
  • ELIXIR has built a tools registry to make it easier to find the right research tools. The Tools Platform also benchmarks tools for quality to help researchers make more informed choices.
  • The Training Platform makes it easier more people to learn how to use these tools, as well as increasing the discoverability of a range of training resources through a registry covering all aspects of bioinformatics and computational biology. Through its ‘Train the Trainer’ programme, it also keeps the trainers themselves up to date with current best practices as well as providing pedagogic skills to trainers.

To build a more robust bioinformatics infrastructure

  • Bioinformatics is a constantly evolving discipline. Some countries in Europe operate mature bioinformatics services, resources and underlying infrastructures. Other countries, though, are still developing theirs.
  • ELIXIR promotes an exchange of knowledge and technical support across Europe so that less mature bioinformatics services and resources are helped to grow and ultimately form a pan-European, integrated infrastructure. This provides significant efficiency savings to the countries that fund these infrastructures. 
  • To support the long-term sustainability of the infrastructure, ELIXIR works with funders, policy-makers and other important stakeholders to showcase its public value and impact, and that of Open Science more broadly, including through uses of its resources by industry.

To drive innovation and industry usage

  • Handling and analysing the massive amounts and complexity of data now generated in life science often takes more resources than agri-business and biotech firms have. One solution is to collaborate with public-funded organisations such as ELIXIR. To foster this, ELIXIR runs an industry programme that promotes collaborations through networking and staff exchanges. 
  • The ELIXIR infrastructure makes life science data around Europe more accessible, and provides easier ways to analyse and gain new insights from these data. These new insights in turn stimulate innovations in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in agricultural and environmental research. This results in economic growth through job creation and tax revenues, as well as helping to address some of the societal challenges we face, such as an ageing population, environmental degradation and food security.