25.08.2017 09:54

Horizon 2020 award to ICEDIG /DiSSCo

(Leif Schulman and Hannu Saarenmaa, University of Helsinki) The project proposal ICEDIG was favourably evaluated by the European Commission. ICEDIG stands for ‘Innovation and Consolidation for large-scale Digitisation of natural heritage’, and was a response to the H2020 call for Design Studies for new research infrastructures.

This project will facilitate the DiSSCo preparatory phase by providing additional resources for addressing the technical and organisational challenges, which need to be solved before construction of this new research infrastructure commences. ICEDIG will be closely connected with DiSSCo coordination activities, and contribute its results and designs to the ESFRI process. The public abstract of the project is included below.

The ICEDIG project has 12 partners. Its 9 work packages have been divided into a technical stream and a consolidation stream. The technical stream is being led by Wouter Addink of NATURALIS and of the DiSSCo Coordination Team. It consists of work packages for Imaging (lead Picturae), Data Capture (lead Meise), Citizen Science (lead U Tartu), and Data Infrastructures (lead U Cardiff). The consolidation stream is being led by Dimitris Koureas of NHM (and again of the DiSSCo Coordination Team). It consists of work packages for Science Needs (lead NATURALIS), Positioning & Legal Aspects (lead NHM), and Design Alternatives & Economies (lead U Cardiff). The supporting work packages are Dissemination & Networking (lead by Ana Casino from CETAF and the DiSSCo Coordination Team) and Management (led by the project coordinator Luomus of U Helsinki). Other partners include CINES, Kew, MNHN, and Plazi/CERN.

The project is expected to start in January 2018 and run for 27 months until March 2020. The European Commission contributes with 3 million euro.

The project will organise wide communication activities across the scientific collections community and external stakeholders. An opening conference is being scheduled for February. We look forward to working with all of you and hope to make a useful contribution to DiSSCo. 


Modern science requires digital access to data. European collections account for 55% of the natural sciences collections globally, holding more than 1 billion objects, which represent 80% of the world’s bio- and geo-diversity. Only around 10% of these have been digitally catalogued and 1-2% imaged, rendering their information underused. The sheer scale and complexity of digitising and providing access to this information requires technological, socio-cultural, and organisational capacity enhancements across the continent. This challenge is being tackled by the new ESFRI initiative Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo). DiSSCo will unify access to collection data in a harmonised and integrated manner across Europe. It will enable critical new insights from integrated digital data to address some of the world's greatest challenges, such as biodiversity loss and impacts of climate change. However, new research and technological innovation will be required to solve the challenges of efficiently digitising and seamlessly accessing the collections. Building on previous project outputs, community and industrial expertise, the ICEDIG project will design all the technical, financial, policy and governance aspects for developing and operating DiSSCo. A consolidation stream will develop a shared governance model to support all aspects of service unification such as implementation of the open access principles, incentive schemes, planning and prioritisation, capacity development, etc. A technology stream will focus on the innovations that will be required to digitise a significant part of major collections in a foreseeable time, at acceptable cost, and to manage petabyte-size data. The work will be carried out in wide consultation with the larger community. The outputs will be prototypes, blueprints, novel workflows, new industry partnerships, and citizen involvement models, paving the way for the successful construction of the DiSSCo research infrastructure.