First Interim ELIXIR Board Meeting: outcomes and next steps

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On 7-8 December 2011, a landmark ELIXIR meeting was held at the Wellcome Trust headquarters in London. The first Interim Board meeting welcomed scientific and ministerial representatives from EMBL and the 10 countries who have signed the ELIXIR Memorandum of Understanding.

Seated around the negotiating table were representatives from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). The proceedings were closely followed by observers representing Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France and Romania, joined by others from the EU and the UK funding agency BBSRC.

Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of the BBSRC, initially led the meeting and welcomed Søren Brunak of the Technical University of Denmark to his new role as elected Chair of the Interim ELIXIR Board. Søren will lead on the important tasks that will mark the transition from the preparatory to the construction phase of ELIXIR, including the negotiation of an International Consortium Agreement and the appointment of a Scientific Advisory Board in early 2012.

Following a series of presentations about ELIXIR - including an informative talk about its status as an EMBL Special Project - delegates participated in a round-table discussion about ELIXIR activities that are taking place within their own countries. The ELIXIR budget was discussed; these talks will continue over the coming months with the aim of formalising the budget at the second Interim ELIXIR Board Meeting (11-12 April 2012, EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, UK). Before that meeting, the ELIXIR Search Committee will appoint a Director and the International Consortium Agreement working group will meet.

The December announcement of the award of £75m from the UK Large Facilities Capital Fund for the construction of the ELIXIR Hub on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in the UK has galvanised those countries already participating in ELIXIR and added an additional incentive to other countries who are considering their future role within this important project.