Marine research landscape

Marine biodiversity constitutes a major resource for fundamental science, especially with the onset of genomics and related post-genomics experimental approaches. Today, with the application of new genomic tools to marine organisms, marine biology is becoming as sophosticated as terrestrial biology. This fundamental shift, which brings marine life to the forefront of biology, widens the scientific scope of marine model organisms. Marine biodiversity is an increasingly important resource for food, energy and industrial applications.

EMBRC plays a critical role in today’s marine research landscape by bringing together marine stations across Europe and making their services available to an international community of researchers from academia and the private sector to enable cutting-edge, high-impact research. This work is made possible through EMBRC’s unique structure as a European ‘distributed research infrastructure’.

What is a research infrastructure?

The European Commission defines research infrastructures (RIs) as 'facilities that provide resources and services for research communities to conduct research and foster innovation' (learn more). 

Distributed RIs, like EMBRC, have their facilities spread over multiple locations, rather than a single site.  A central coordinating office (ours is located in Paris), brings together and coordinates the activities of national partners (networks of one or more marine stations) across Europe.

RIs are selected by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) (an instrument created by the Commission to guide the use of RIs) based on their ‘pan-European interest’ and ability to meet the strategic research needs of European research communities.

Cover of the French strategy for RIs, 2018. Promes/CNRS — A. Chantelauze, S. Staffi, L. Bret — Christian 99/personnal work, CC BY-A 3.0 - Klepser, DESY, HESS collaboration — Artem Sapegin on Unsplash — ESO- ECORD — CNRS Photothèque/Emmanuel Perrin, Hubert Raguet ; Frédéric Rodriguez. Photomontage : CNRS UGCN/ Philippe Jauffret — European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser GmbH — Inria/C. Lebedinsky — KM3NET

A driver for scientific excellence

RIs are a solution to make science more effective and sustainable in the complex European backdrop of interactions among nation states. They enable an organised, fair and transparent system to share knowledge and resources, and in doing so, they contribute to the pooling of data, facilities and equipment, thereby avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.

By making high-quality facilities, resources and services available to everyone, RIs ensure that science is driven by excellence and not limited by the research capacity of individual countries, economic sectors, or institutions. They also ensure that this excellence is aimed at solving bottlenecks, pushing forward the frontiers of scientific disciplines, and enabling transformative technological development.

Sustainable impact

RIs bring together the suitable conditions and critical mass to enable cutting-edge, large-scale research. In comparison to projects or networks, which often last a few months or years only, RIs have greater potential for long-term, strategic impact. They play an increasingly important role for the advancement of knowledge and technology in Europe and worldwide.  

Crossing borders, crossing research areas

With the goal of elevating science across the globe, European RIs include members and partners from other countries and regions and cover different research fields, including biological and medical sciences, material sciences, social sciences and humanities, environmental sciences, energy and astronomy. EMBRC is part of the life science RI 'family’ and collaborates with environmental RIs as well (through the ENVRI community). 

Learn more about how research infrastructures make science happen