Brussels, 13 Sep 2006
'An entrepreneur in Germany should be able to see which research projects across Europe could supply him, let's say, a high efficiency waterpump for a specific project he has in mind,' explains euroCRIS Chair Professor Keith Jeffery, speaking to CORDIS News following the 2006 euroCRIS seminar in Brussels on 12 September. While this statement may seem obvious, doing such a thing is not currently such an easy task. This is what the euroCRIS project aims to address - transparency and efficiency across EU research. CRIS, an acronym for Current Research Information Systems in this case refers to systems used by research organisations, but the project's aim is interoperability. Members come from organisations and companies from all over Europe.
'It comes down to standards and presence,' explains Prof Jeffery. 'CERIF - the Common European Research Information Format has been active since 2000, but presented as an active recommendation since 2001. euroCRIS is the custodian of these recommendations.'
CERIF is essentially a set of rules, which if applied across the research landscape could make the transfer of information and knowledge very simple. Today, different organisations, countries or bodies might use different IT systems, or use different databases in different ways, making the transfer of information far from simple.
In Europe, the story is more complicated still, because of different languages, alphabets and nuance. Professor Jeffrey points out that Greece has a non-Roman alphabet, as does acceding country Bulgaria. Moreover, language differences have to be overcome. But more than that, people in different countries may use the same words in different ways, clouding what should otherwise be clear.
euroCRIS aims to remove as many barriers to transparency as possible, and so make Europe run more efficiently. In previous years, euroCRIS has looked closely at the European Research Area (ERA), open access - an important euroCRIS requirement, and GRID systems. 'Research processes collect data, and this can be subtle, invisible and distributed using GRIDS technologies,' explains Prof Jeffery.
However, this year the seminar looked at innovation. 'A hot topic,' remarked Prof Jeffery. Lisbon goals and the blueprint for European innovation, the Aho expert group report, make explicit reference to research in order to drive innovation, which in turn will drive the economy.
'People are very interested and excited. euroCRIS is necessary to move the EU towards Lisbon goals. Without research targets, you will not reach these goals,' he says.
Adopting euroCRIS guidelines would be a significant boost not only to European researchers, but to those wanting to exploit that research. The notion of the European Research Area (ERA) aims to promote exactly these types of interaction, and so provide a catalyst for research and researchers. The CERIF guidelines would be an obvious candidate to form the backbone of the ERA.
'It has been proposed that euroCRIS should be the authority for interoperability,' says Prof Jeffery. 'euroCRIS is talking to the EU Heads of Research Councils and to ERA-NET projects, with some funding under the Sixth Framework Programme.
'And we are making good progress,' says Prof Jeffery. 'I think it is likely partly because there really is nobody else,' he says. But with 2010 approaching fast, euroCRIS could be an important catalyst, lubricating the wheels of research, and bring the Lisbon goals that little bit closer.For further information, go to the ERA website: here
Read the CERIF guidelines at http://cordis.europa.eu/cerif/
Go to the euroCRIS website at http://www.eurocris.org