New collaboration strategy with the Australian BioCommons

ELIXIR launches a three-year collaboration strategy with the Australian BioCommons research infrastructure

Signed on 9 April 2020, the collaboration strategy between ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons seeks to create a cooperative plan to exploit international synergies between the two research infrastructures.

This three-year collaboration will actively involve Australian Biocommons in many of the activities related to the European life science infrastructures. The mutually-beneficial relationship will enhance the complementary areas of both infrastructures; while ELIXIR will offer extensive pan-European experience, Australian BioCommons will provide a further international perspective beyond Europe. 

About the Australian BioCommons

The Australian Bioinformatics Commons is a digital infrastructure funded by Bioplatforms Australia, a non-profit organisation supporting Australian state-of-the-art life science research enabled by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. 

The Australian BioCommons is defining and delivering data infrastructure for the biomolecular research community in Australia. Through the provision of access to tools, methods and training, this national capability supports Australian bioscientists to respond to national challenges such as food security, environmental conservation and disease treatments.

Key Areas of Collaboration

ELIXIR and the Australian Biocommons have been steadily communicating over the past two years, since 2017, with reciprocal strategic visits. The new alliance is based on the common areas of alignment that these interactions brought to the table. The alignment areas range from international adoption of standards, such as the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), to international training activities. 

Ongoing collaborative activities

ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons are already heavily involved in collaborations around the Galaxy Project — an open, web-based platform for collaborative research. ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons maintain together hundreds of tools and e-learning materials, share infrastructure in the Galaxy Pulsar network, and have recently started a global effort to fight COVID-19. A recent collaborative publication and a coordinated Galaxy webinar series serve as great examples of this mutually-beneficial cooperation. 

Additionally, two ELIXIR partners (Celia van Gelder, ELIXIR Netherland, co-lead of the ELIXIR Training Platform and Sarah Morgan, Scientific Training Coordinator at the EMBL-EBI) have recently become members of the Australian BioCommons Bioinformatics Training Advisory Group, which will have its first meeting in June 2020. Such initiatives strengthen links between BioCommons and ELIXIR in specific activities.

Future collaboration areas to explore

In addition to the current activities, ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons will explore new collaboration horizons, including:

  • Reciprocal invitations at flagship events, such as their respective All Hands, the ELIXIR BioHackathon or eResearch Australasia.
  • Co-organising/funding of ‘special sessions’ at key international bioinformatics events
  • Alignment of scientific activities, such as ELIXIR’s Commissioned Services and similar Australian BioCommons projects
  • Developing engaging projects to showcase the value of the collaboration
  • Carrying out study visits for staff exchange, secondments or similar
  • Becoming part of reciprocal communication programmes and platforms such as mailing lists or reciprocal interactions with technical groups.

One important milestone for this new collaboration is taking place this June. The Australian Biocommons will be officially launched at the ELIXIR All Hands Meeting 2020 when both Director will address one of the week's plenary meetings.

Funding and prospects

‘Both infrastructures are fortunate to have their own means and resources to fund this collaboration, which will increase the impact of the public investment they both benefit from’, states Corinne Martin, International Relations expert at ELIXIR.

In the weeks to come, as the ELIXIR Director, Niklas Blomberg claims, ‘Both partners will acquire a better understanding of the financial instruments that can support the implementation of the strategy.’

The collaboration will be reviewed during the final year of this three-year strategy when the outcomes will be thoroughly examined. It might open a path for both initiatives to continue to benefit from this reciprocal international relationship. Indeed, it is an opportunity for both parties to further understand each other's needs and unlock the potential of what a truly international ELIXIR membership could mean.

To find out more, you can read the official international agreement.
A link off to the international agreement.

Mon 8 June 2020