The challenge of enabling optimal use and reuse of public research data, tools and training materials is a complex one and involves multiple stakeholders: consumers and users of data in academia and industry, operators of public databases and infrastructure service providers, scientific journals, funding agencies and others.
To facilitate the discussion about the impact and implications of the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) principles in both academia and industry, a recent ELIXIR Innovation and SMEs Forum brought together industry representatives and bioinformatics service providers to present their perspectives and experiences on how to best facilitate discoverability in data-driven innovation.
Hosted by ELIXIR UK in Cambridge on 23-24 January, the event attracted over 50 participants working in large companies, SMEs and academia.
The four keynote speakers presented their view on discoverability of data from the perspectives of big pharma companies (Ian P Barrett, AstraZeneca and David Hulcoop, GSK-Open Targets), scientific publishers (Giuliano Maciocci, eLife) and SMEs (Liz Reynolds, General Bioinformatics). According to Barrett, the value of FAIR data principles is the availability of data to inform decision making at all stage of drug development. Liz Reynolds highlighted some of the challenges for SMEs: free data at the point of use can hide the value of specific data, as not all data are equally valuable. For scientific publishers the challenge is to make data and code an integral part of scientific production. According to Maciocci, “datasets and sometimes the code to analyse them are ultimately reduced to a little more than a png images embedded in an article.”
The sessions then brought together one representative from industry and academia to present their work and then discuss their perspectives on open data as well as data and tools discoverability. The theme that run through all three sessions was cultural change. The vast majority of speakers agreed that the main barrier to the wide adoption of FAIR principles is not technical or political, but cultural.
Carole Goble, the Head of ELIXIR UK, summarised the discussion: ”We need to change our attitude towards data sharing and data curation, and to change the culture of data management.”
The programme featured many examples of companies and initiatives that already adopted this cultural change, among others The Hyve, Open Targets, Eagle Genomics, Human Cell Atlas, ELIXIR TeSS portal, FAIRsharing, ISAtools, Intermine, Genestack and eLife. The flash talks session also offered a quick overview of the breadth of activities and business models adopted by SMEs in bioinformatics and related fields.
ELIXIR Innovation and SME Forum: Enabling Discoverability in Bio-Data Innovation, 23-24 January 2018, Cambridge, UK
About the ELIXIR Innovation and SME Programme
ELIXIR's Innovation and SME programme is a series of specialised events for companies hosted by ELIXIR Nodes. The events provide companies with the opportunity of learning about open bioinformatics resources available through ELIXIR and forge links with the local ELIXIR Nodes representatives running these services. So far, more than 400 representatives from 150 companies have exchanged knowledge with ELIXIR partners across Europe, from small startups to SMEs, to large pharmaceutical companies and IT service providers.