News | July 8, 2024 | Katharina Frohne

Continuation "highly important"

Bonner_Delegation

As an NFDI consortium in the first round, the work of NFDI4Biodiversity was very positively evaluated by the DFG at the halfway point in 2023. Currently, speakers and writing teams are preparing the proposal for the second funding phase from 2025.

"Highly important" – this is how the external advisors of the NFDI expert panel of the German Research Foundation (DFG) rate the continuation of NFDI4Biodiversity, an assessment that provides a tailwind in the midst of the current preparations for the second funding phase. Furthermore, the vote of the NFDI expert panel literally states: "The work results of the consortium are characterized [...] by a high degree of maturity."

In Bremen, where the Federation for Biological Data (GFBio e.V.) is responsible for the central coordination of the project, this very positive feedback and the addition that "the outstanding coordinative role of the association [...] has proven to be an advantageous structure for the consortium" were met with delight. Project management in the second funding phase will also be based in Bremen: Frank Oliver Glöckner (University of Bremen) and Barbara Ebert (GFBio e.V.) have agreed to continue to be available as spokesperson and head of the joint office respectively.

In terms of content, the external review highlights, among other things, the significant progress made in establishing various services for the biodiversity data community. The improved access to "state-of-the-art technologies and a comprehensive stock of biodiversity and environmental data", the provision of tried and tested applications for archiving, publishing, searching and analyzing data as well as the establishment of an open expert forum with numerous training and support services are explicitly mentioned. In view of the time it naturally takes to digitize data, the 1.2 million data units and 1500 data sets mobilized so far are considered a "significant milestone" that now requires "ongoing huge efforts for maintenance and supplementation".

The consortium's extensive national and international networking with renowned initiatives such as GBIF, TDWG, Bioschemas and ELIXIR, which has led to synergies in the use of tools and technologies, as well as joint events and workshops, also attracted particular attention. According to the expert's statement, the already great efforts must be continued in the future "to ensure sustainability beyond identification of top candidates for engagement". The involvement of many members in related NFDI consortia was also explicitly acknowledged, as this established "a tight link between the different NFDIs".

"Highly productive working method" of the partners involved

The fact that the consortium, with its more than 50 partner institutions, has been established as a central contact point for stakeholders in the biodiversity data community is also considered particularly noteworthy. In the first funding phase, the consortium received (so far) more than 400 inquiries on a wide range of data management issues, with both institutions and initiatives as well as individuals from the research community seeking help. The support provided by NFDI4Biodiversity ranged from advice from experts from the partner group to the joint implementation of technical solutions and individual help for researchers in managing their own data. "The consortium has been recognized as a go-to place by community stakeholders", summarizes the external expert's report.

The expert panel's vote cited the consortium's well-coordinated and closely networked partner network as a key reason for its success: "Many partners have many years of experience in working together, which contributes to the consortium's highly productive working methods."

NFDI4Biodiversity network welcomes 13 new institutions

Highly productive – this also aptly describes the work of the past few weeks. "The funding bodies have formulated clear expectations for the second funding phase, which we feel committed to," says NFDI4Biodiversity spokesperson Frank Oliver Glöckner. The renewal proposal, which outlines the consortium's work program for five more years, is currently being prepared by a writing team consisting of the spokesperson, co-spokespersons and numerous other employees and will be submitted at the end of July.

The consortium will grow if it is allowed to continue its work: Eleven co-applicants and 45 participating organizations (participants), including 13 new institutions, have declared their willingness to help shape the second funding phase. A great sign, says Barbara Ebert, Deputy Spokesperson of NFDI4Biodiversity: "We are very pleased about the great interest in our network and that almost all partners have stayed on board."

Whether NFDI4Biodiversity will be funded for a further five years will be decided in summer 2025: This is when the Joint Science Conference (GWK), which coordinates joint science funding by the federal and state governments, will announce its vote.

 Publications on the topic

  • Presentation from the DFG Report Symposium in Bonn, April 2024: Glöckner, F. O., Güntsch, A., Frenzel, M., Goesmann, A., & Ebert, B. (2024, April 16). NFDI4Biodiversity Consortium Progress Report 2021-2023. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10978758  

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Katharina Frohne

Katharina is the Public Relations Coordinator for NFDI4Biodiversity and responsible for this website and the consortium's social media channels, among other things. Before joining the project in 2021, she wrote about science, culture and society as a journalist. Professionally, she is passionate about explaining complex topics and contexts in an understandable way; privately, she enjoys long walks with her dog, painting and photography.

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