#ENRIITCyourCoffee Season 3: Episode 1 – “Open Data resources”

Welcome to the recap of the #ENRIITCyourCoffee first episode of the third season with Ilaria Nardello, Research Associate at Stazione Zoologica Napoli (SZN) and Katharina Lauer, Industry officer at ELIXIR. The season three inaugural topic was Open Data Resources.

As a tradition we gathered at 15.00 CET with our coffee mugs and Katharina started off with a short presentation on ELIXIR and its model on Open Data. She posed the central question that is familiar to many research infrastructures (RIs) – where do public infrastructures position themselves in the whole innovation ecosystem? ELIXIR has 23 nodes and they are all coordinated from a hub, which is based in Cambridge, UK. ELIXIR focuses on data topics in the life science sector: databases, software, tools, training, etc. When it comes to industry relationships, ELIXIR aims for the nodes to have good connections with their local innovation, ecosystems with industry that is spaced in their national landscape with a collaborative sense of exchanging knowledge between both parties.

ELIXIR’s vision is that the services and resources that are provided through the nodes (for example a database that contains information about proteins or a supercomputing centre) are utilised by industry and open for innovation with support from the central office.

“We position ourselves as a player in the overall innovation ecosystem in the life sciences.”

Katharina further shares the results of an exploratory study at ELIXIR about the use cases of their open databases, focusing on small to medium sized bioinformatics businesses, who rely more on open data in the first stages of their hypothesis and research than perhaps big conglomerates with more resources. 92% of the respondents stated that a product or service has more features because of access to open registries, open ontologies, etc. 76% of respondents stated that without open repositories, they would not be able to offer their product or service at all. This truly shows how essential open data and open science is for innovation and also creating jobs

With such inspiring statistics we moved on to the discussion where Ilaria jumped right in and asked about the situation around dedicated Industry Contact Officers (ICOs). As with many RIs in our previous coffee meets, ELIXIR also has dedicated ICOs in bigger nodes, but in smaller centres there are people who split the tasks without a dedicated employee.

Next broad topic was the open data concept and commercial enterprise relationship. Can open data be used for profit and how is that regulated for example by the European Commission? What about competitors who also have access to these databases?

In a broad sense Katharina explained, that all the data is open for the public, but certain licenses apply. This might be legally tricky process to initiate for the companies, but those are necessary steps for sharing this data. Regarding facilities like supercomputing centres or cloud services, it is also down to the individual facility and their conditions. At the end of the day, Katharina said that companies are becoming more and more aware of the possibilities of knowledge exchange and not strictly usage of services. Although, when it comes to competition, she remarqued, that if openly available data would make one’s company obsolete, then it’s time for further innovation in that company.

Francisca brought the discussion close to our previous session’s topic: ELIXIR training and if it’s more towards researchers or industry needs. Katharina replied with a great point: the needs are beyond affiliation. “If you want to use a specific technology, it doesn’t matter if you use it in industry or a research facility, they can access the same training. The general training like programming for biologists – doesn’t matter if you’re in industry or in academia, it’s the same.”

Our discussion had many more questions on topics such as difference of an open data user or a member state of ELIXIR, but that available on the video below.

We invite you to ENRIITC your coffee next week with Leif Gjerlöv Jensen, Technical Sales Engineer at AB Carlsson & Möller and Frida Tibblin-Citron, Business Developer at Big Science Sweden. We will meet as usual on Thursday, 15 April 2021 from 15:00 – 15:30 CET. Registration is open here and continue the discussion at our LinkedIn group here.

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