What is the European Open Science Cloud?

Iulia Popescu on what we know so far about the ambitious European initiative

The idea of a European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) took shape in 2015, as a vision of the European Commission of a large infrastructure to support and develop open science and open innovation in Europe and beyond.

The EOSC is projected to become a reality by 2020 and will be Europe’s virtual environment for all researchers to store, manage, analyse and re-use data for research, innovation and educational purposes.

The European Open Science Cloud vision : “to give Europe a global lead in scientific data infrastructures and to ensure that European scientists reap the full benefits of data-driven science.” European Cloud Initiative publication

What are open science and open innovation?

In 2015, the European Commission set three goals for research and innovation policy within European Union: Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World.

These concepts promote the idea of opening up European research and innovation systems to move towards a reality where knowledge is created through global collaborations, where “the digital and physical are coming together” as described by Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

One year later, the notions of open science and open innovation took a more concrete form as they become a strategic aim for Europe’s scientific landscape outlined in an official EC report: “Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World – a vision for Europe”.

Open Science

In the report, open science is defined as a new approach to scientific progress based on sharing all available knowledge using new collaborative tools and digital technologies. The outcome would be a shift in the modus operandi of doing research from the early stages and publication of results to sharing them at a larger, global scale. Open science evokes “a change in the scientific landscape towards a public funded science to be more accessible, transparent, collaborative and closer to citizens” (Europe’s future: Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World).

For example, the OpenAIRE platform supports the idea of open access for research data and scientific publications. The platform acts as a large-scale collection of research outputs easily discoverable and re-usable.

Open Innovation

The premise behind open innovation is to allow knowledge to circulate more freely and create a stronger culture of new products and markets as well as shared social and economic values.

For example, to design the EOSC-hub (project set to start in early January 2018), the EGI Foundation and partner teams used open innovation processes such as open calls for business pilots, competence centres and thematic services to join their efforts.

Towards the European Open Science Cloud

The European Open Science Cloud is envisioned by the European Commission as a supporting landscape to foster open science and open innovation: a network of organisations and infrastructures from various countries and communities that supports the open creation and dissemination of knowledge and scientific data (Report on the governance and financial schemes for the European Open Science Cloud).

The creation of EOSC is aimed at removing technical, policy and human barriers, leading to knowledge creation and economic prosperity in Europe.

The European Commission’s “European Cloud initiative” publication, issued in April 2016, set an ambitious vision for the European Open Science Cloud: “to give Europe a global lead in scientific data infrastructures and to ensure that European scientists reap the full benefits of data-driven science.”

A vision in action

The European Open Science Cloud is intended to set off the ground by federating existing scientific data infrastructures that are now spread across disciplines and EU member states. This will make access to scientific data easier and more efficient (Realising the European Open Science Cloud).

The EOSCpilot project

The EOSCpilot project is supporting the first phase in the development of the EOSC. The project brings together stakeholders from research infrastructures and e-Infrastructure providers and will engage with funders and policy makers to propose and trial EOSC’s governance framework.

The project has already selected 10 science demonstrators functioning as high-profile pilots that integrate services and infrastructures to show interoperability and its benefits in a number of scientific domains: earth sciences, high-energy physics, social sciences, life sciences, physics and astronomy.

The EOSC-hub project

The EOSC-hub project was successfully reviewed by the European Commission and is expected to start in January 2018. The scope of EOSC-hub is to create the integration and service management structure of the European Open Science Cloud.

The project will enable an open access to research resources from a myriad of scientific disciplines via a digital hub: an integration system of software and services from major European e-infrastructures and research infrastructures. The hub will act as an entry point for researchers and innovators to discover, access, and use a variety of advanced data-driven resources.

The consortium of the project is led by the EGI Foundation and brings together more than 100 beneficiaries and linked third parties including research infrastructures, e-Infrastructure providers, SMEs and academic institutions. The project follows the EOSC guidelines recently released by the EC in the EOSC declaration.

EGI and EOSC

EGI endorses the principles of the EOSC declaration and commits to the following actions that contribute to the implementation of the European Open Science Cloud:

Governance and funding

  • Support the definition, implementation and operation of the EOSC governing structure with more than 300 data centres in 50 countries.
  • Contribute its best practices and experience to the definition of the EOSC policies and ensuring interoperability among suppliers at a global scale.

Data culture and FAIR data

  • Provide and improve implementation guidelines for FAIR services (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable) in the area of advanced compute, federated identity provisioning, authentication and authorisation.
  • Develop the skills and certification schemes necessary to become users or operators of digital research infrastructures and EOSC involving multiple research communities, technology experts and service providers.

Research data services and architecture

  • Manage the EOSC hub system SIAM (Service Integration and Management system)
  • Offer advanced compute (Cloud Compute and High-Throughput Compute) and data services from publicly-funded and commercial organisations.
  • Operate a federated identity provisioning, authentication and authorisation services for the EOSC users and service providers.