Interoperability Platform

Life science research produces data in a variety of formats. The diversity of formats means that scientists cannot easily find and compare datasets from different sources, so their ability to make new discoveries is hampered.

The goal of the Interoperability Platform is to help people and machines to discover, access, integrate and analyse biological data. It encourages the life science community to adopt standardised file formats, metadata, vocabularies and identifiers.

Ask us a question

Ask the Interoperability Platform a question.

The Platform works both within Europe and globally. For example, through organisations such as Research Data Alliance (RDA), which promotes data sharing and exchange around the world. See the RDA's ELIXIR Bridging Force Interest Group page and the RDA/Force11's FAIRsharing Working Group for details of this collaboration.

Services offered

  • Recommended Interoperability Resources (RIRs): as reviewed and selected by ELIXIR.
  • Bioschemas: extension tailored for life science concepts.
  • a resolving system to reference data in both a location-independent and resource-dependent manner.
  • Ontology Lookup Service (OLS):  a repository for biomedical ontologies that aims to provide a single point of access to the latest ontology versions.
  •  curated, informative and educational resource on data and metadata standards, inter-related to databases and data policies.
  • CWL for Tool Interoperability: Common Workflow Language to aid interoperable software development.

What the Platform does

Join the Interoperability group

Join the Interoperability Platform group and its mailing list.

  • Identifies and promotes interoperability best practices for data providers and data integrators.
  • Delivers the interoperability services that underpin ELIXIR Communities and Platforms.

To achieve these goals the Platform is split into seven projects:

Service Framework


  • To identify valuable interoperability services within ELIXIR and support their improvement. See the Recommended Interoperability Resource (RIR) page.
  • To identify existing services outside ELIXIR and develop of strategic partnerships with them.
  • To identify the interoperability services that need to be developed.

Leaders: Chris Evelo (ELIXIR Netherlands), Carole Goble (ELIXIR UK), Helen Parkinson (EMBL-EBI)



Bioschemas logo

Goal: To encourage the use of markup within life sciences web resources to improve discoverability of information.

Leader: Carole Goble (ELIXIR UK), Alasdair Gray (ELIXIR UK)


  • Developing specifications for content types relevant to the life science community e.g. Dataset, Protein, Sample, Standard (see the Bioschemas website for the current list of specifications).
  • Creating tools that facilitate the validation and the discovery of web resources that use markup
  • Meetings, hackathons, training in adoption - see the events section for upcoming events or the Bioschemas meetings page.

Get involved: join the ELIXIR Bioschemas group and the broader Bioschemas community.

Identifiers logo

Goal: To harmonise existing practice in identifier assignment and resolution, to support resources in implementing community standards and to promote the creation of identifier services.

Leader: Carole Goble (ELIXIR UK)


Get involved: join the Identifiers group.

Metadata and ontology tooling

Goal: To design, test and implement a metadata strategy for ELIXIR using the Plant Sciences Community as a driver.

Leader: Helen Parkinson (EMBL-EBI), Alasdair Gray (ELIXIR UK), Carole Goble (ELIXIR UK), Susanna-Assunta Sansone and Philippe Rocca-Serra (ELIXIR UK)


  • Working with the ELIXIR Communities to assess their complex requirements for metadata both for archival and added value resources.
  • Developing a metadata strategy for ontology services, semantic services and best practice examples for the ELIXIR Plant Sciences Community.
  • Implementing a BRAPI 2 ISA conversion with ISA Tools to comply to the MIAPPI requirements.
  • Providing training for ELIXIR-affiliated developers in the use of metadata (ontology) standards and existing ontology tools.
  • Working with the international ontology user community to promote interoperable ontologies and services international biomedical interoperability.
  • Delivery of ELIXIR candidate ontology services comprising the Ontology Lookup Service, Ontology Cross Reference Service (OxO), and the data annotation service (Zooma).
  • Service Benchmarking to improve performance and usability.
  • Providing training for ELIXIR-affiliated developers in the use of metadata (ontology) standards and existing ontology tools.

Linked Data

Goal: To deliver best practice for implementation and use of Linked Data in ELIXIR Communities and inform future development, deployment and sustainable production of linked data resources as ELIXIR resources. Not all ELIXIR Linked Data will be Linked Open Data (LOD); instead we will focus on technologies for Linked Data to help make data FAIR, resulting in what we call "Linked FAIR Data".

Leader: Chris Evelo (ELIXIR Netherlands), Marco Roos (ELIXIR Netherlands)


Workflow and Tool interoperability

Goal: To create specifications that enable data scientists to describe analysis tools and workflows to make them interoperable across Communities.

Leader: Carole Goble (ELIXIR UK)


Interoperability Knowledge Hub

Goal: To create an online knowledge hub where infrastructure and tool developers can be informed about current ELIXIR Interoperability Platform activities, assess current best practice and determine which interoperability services and standards to implement under specific circumstances. This will build upon the initial description of activities as described on this page above.

Leaders: Sirarat Sarntivijai (ELIXIR Hub)


  • Work with the community to develop the ELIXIR Interoperability Service guideline and best practices.
  • In support of the project activities detailed above an ELIXIR Interoperability Knowledge Hub will be developed in collaboration with the ELIXIR Hub.


Carole Goble
Carole Goble
Chris Evelo
Chris Evelo
(ELIXIR Netherlands)
Helen Parkinson
Helen Parkinson
Sirarat Sarntivijai
Sirarat Sarntivijai
(Platform Coordinator, ELIXIR Hub)

Find out more