Public Release:  Switzerland signs the ELIXIR consortium agreement and contributes €35 million

Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics

Switzerland's State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Dr Mauro Dell'Ambrogio, has signed the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement for the establishment of ELIXIR, the European Life science Infrastructure for Biological Information. This brings closer the time when five Member States will have signed, and the Consortium Agreement will enter into force. The Swiss government has committed to investing €35 million over the four-year period from 2013 to 2016. This monetary contribution is mainly provided through financial support to SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics - the Swiss ELIXIR Node. However, the experience and expertise of SIB are also an important part of Switzerland's participation. Access to SIB's bioinformatics core resources and many other high-quality services, as well as the benefit of its solid experience in bioinformatics training will be major assets in the launch and success of ELIXIR.

The deluge of data produced by life science researchers thanks to new-generation technologies is a very positive development, given the wealth of information hidden in this data. Our society is constantly being challenged by crucial questions related to food, energy, the environment and, of course, health. Such data is a windfall for researchers - provided that both the information and the bioinformatics resources for its analysis are accessible over the long term. ELIXIR is the European consortium, whose aim is to set up and operate a sustainable European infrastructure for biological information to support life science research and its translation to medicine, the environment, the bio-industries and society. This requires international coordination and the assurance of long-term funding.

The International Consortium Agreement signed by Switzerland today is key for the set-up of ELIXIR. Niklas Blomberg, Director of ELIXIR, is "very pleased that Switzerland, a pioneer and one of the world leaders in bioinformatics, is one of the first Member States to ratify the Agreement". Switzerland, which had already signed the Memorandum of Understanding in 2011, has thus confirmed its participation in the project. Research, life sciences and bioinformatics have been strongly supported by the Swiss government for many years, which is one of the reasons why Switzerland currently has a robust bioinformatics infrastructure.

SIB, the Swiss node of ELIXIR, is pleased to lend its support to ELIXIR

Since its inception, SIB, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, has positioned itself as a major contributor to the life sciences. UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot, neXtProt, STRING, SWISS-MODEL are only a few of the core resources that have been created by SIB and are available to the life science research community worldwide. In total, more than 130 resources are accessible through SIB's web portal ExPASy (http://www.expasy.org). SIB, whose infrastructure and research groups are located in the major Swiss Universities and Federal Institutes of Technology, has a long experience in interinstitutional, intercantonal and international collaboration. Training the next generation of bioinformaticians is another of the Institute's roles, and demonstrates how SIB's missions are in tune with those of ELIXIR. According to Ron Appel, Executive Director of SIB, "ELIXIR will give a new dimension to European collaboration and open the door to the future of science".

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About SIB

SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics is an academic not-for-profit foundation recognized of public utility. It federates bioinformatics activities throughout Switzerland. Its two-fold mission is to provide world-class core bioinformatics resources to the national and international life science research community in key fields such as genomics, proteomics and systems biology, as well as to lead and coordinate the field of bioinformatics in Switzerland. It has a long-standing tradition of producing state-of-the-art software for the life science research community, as well as carefully annotated databases. SIB includes 46 world-class research and service groups, a total of more than 650 scientists, in the fields of proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics, systems biology, structural bioinformatics, evolutionary bioinformatics, modelling, imaging, biophysics, and population genetics in Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano and Zurich. SIB expertise is widely appreciated and its services are used by life sciences researchers worldwide.

Contacts:

SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
Ron Appel, Executive Director
Quartier Sorge - Bâtiment Génopode
1015 Lausanne
+41 (0)21 692 40 50

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