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14.07.2020

Knowledge storage for bioeconomy research

Among the first consortia for the establishment of the National Research Data Infrastructure (NDFI) are also three large associations that are important for bioeconomy research.

With digitalization, more and more data is being produced.
Quelle: 
Jae Rue auf Pixabay

Data is the central resource for science and business. They are produced in enormous quantities, for example by satellites, sensors and high-throughput technologies in the life sciences. Evaluating, managing, securing and making this data available requires a great effort from the IT infrastructure. Up to now, decentralized solutions have dominated. With the establishment of a National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), the data stocks of science and research are now to be systematically indexed, sustainably secured and made accessible to the research community. National and international networking is also envisaged.

Important impulses for scientific progress

In the Joint Science Conference (GWK), the Federal and State Governments have now set the course for the establishment of this new knowledge storage facility by approving funding for nine consortiums. Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Research and Chairwoman of the GWK, welcomed this initiative: "The digitalization of science and research in Germany is an important step towards better cooperation among scientific disciplines and between institutions. We must raise the many data treasures in the various disciplines - this will provide important impulses for scientific progress and new innovations in all subjects. The establishment and further development of research data management plays a central role in the digitalization of science and research. It is therefore a signal at the right time that the first nine NFDI consortia can now start soon".

Creating standards in data management

The federal and state governments intend to invest up to 90 million euros annually until 2028 in the development and promotion of the NFDI, with the federal government taking the majority (90%). In the coming years, users of research data and of infrastructure facilities will design the knowledge storage within the framework of NFDI consortia and will cooperate closely in the development of standards in data management. One focus: the networking of old and new data stocks in order to make better use of them.

Three NFDI consortia with relevance for the bioeconomy

The foundation for the NFDI is laid by the nine consortia selected by the GWK on the recommendation of the German Research Foundation, including three consortia that are relevant to the bioeconomy. An overview:

In the consortium DataPlant - Fundamental Plant Research, a team led by the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg will develop a service and data infrastructure that will enable modern plant research to collect and provide large amounts of data. These are data that contribute to a better understanding of the molecular principles of plant life such as growth, yield and biomass production. The work of the consortium will be funded by the DFG with 11 million euros over the next five years. Project partners are the University of Tübingen, Research Centre Jülich and the Technical University of Kaiserslautern.

In the consortium NFDI4BioDiversity - Biodiversity, Ecology and Environmental Data an interdisciplinary team around the Leibniz Institute DSMZ - Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH will contribute microbial research data to develop a cloud-based infrastructure. The world's largest meta database for bacteria, BacDive, developed at the DSMZ, will also be included. The provision of standardized data should simplify the use of the database and significantly improve the work of researchers in the future. The DFG will fund the network with up to 3 million euros over the next five years. In addition to the DSMZ, 15 co-applicants and 37 university and non-university institutions are involved in this funding.

Data value chains on chemical processes are the focus of the NFDI consortium NFDI4Cat - NFDI for Catalysis-Related Sciences. Under the direction of the Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V. (Dechema), 15 scientific partners with companies such as Clariant, BASF and Covestro will pool their knowledge of catalysis research, chemical engineering and process technology in order to bring about fundamental change with the help of an appropriate data infrastructure. For this purpose, different disciplines in catalysis research and technology will be brought together with the support of data scientists and mathematicians. The amount of funding will be announced in due course.

Wide use of the work results

"The establishment of a National Research Data Infrastructure is a milestone in science policy," said GWK Deputy Chairman, Konrad Wolf and Minister for Science, Further Education and Culture of Rhineland-Palatinate. "We expect that the work results of the funded consortia - such as the development of cross-disciplinary metadata standards or the establishment of processes for the standardized handling of research data - will also benefit scientific communities outside NFDI funding and thus develop a broad impact throughout the entire scientific system.

The development of the National Research Data Infrastructure is taking place in a total of three stages. For this purpose, new consortia are admitted to the NFDI in a scientifically guided procedure. The Federal Government and the Federal States intend to fund up to 30 working groups by 2028.

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