£75M investment in bioinformatics: The UK ELIXIR Directorate opens

30th Oct 2013

UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts joined key stakeholders in the Cambridge biotechnology cluster today to celebrate the opening of a new Technical Hub for bioinformatics.

The European Bioinformatics Institute's new South Building will be home to the ELIXIR Directorate, which will coordinate bioinformatics activities throughout Europe in order to increase the availability and uptake of biological data in commercial and non-commercial R&D.

As bioinformatics involves analysing very large volumes of data about living things, it is essential for tackling the serious challenges our society faces, from providing healthcare to an ageing population to securing our food and water resources. The new facilities will enable researchers throughout Europe to remain competitive in this expanding area, and will secure the UK's position at the forefront of bioinformatics.

Science and Universities Minister David Willetts said: "This new facility is the embodiment of our investment in big data and bioinformatics. We are not only ensuring that people will receive better services and resource security, we are also maintaining UK leadership in the global science race."

The South Building has been funded through a Large Facilities Capital Fund grant via the UK Research Councils, led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). This financing also supports technical infrastructure and equipment, which enables EMBL-EBI to increase its capacity in data handling and storage.

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "Investing in this infrastructure ensures that we can create opportunities from the vast quantities of biological data that today's research generates. These state-of-the art facilities will assist our research community in finding solutions to society's challenges faster than ever before."

EMBL-EBI delivers world-leading, freely available data on genes and other molecules to researchers in industry and academia. The new building will house EMBL-EBI staff; an Industry and Translation suite, offering space for collaboration with industry partners in the spheres of pharma, agribusiness, biotech and consumer goods; and the Directorate and technical staff of the ELIXIR Technical Hub. ELIXIR is a pan-European infrastructure for the sharing of biological data, funded through sustainable contributions from national member states and the European Commission.

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