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Press release: Empowering European Health Research – HealthyCloud project successfully concludes, setting the HealthyCloud Strategic Agenda for the European Health Research and Innovation Cloud (HRIC) in motion

Date: December 22, 2023

HealthyCloud project completes its mission to create a Strategic Agenda for establishing a European Health Research and Innovation Cloud (HRIC) that will contribute to the cross-border sharing of health-related data for research purposes across Europe.

Zaragoza/Barcelona, Spain, 30 November, 2023 – In pursuit of the effective management of health data, the 21 organizations across Europe that make up the HealthyCloud Consortium have been eagerly working on bringing together, optimising, and extending best practices in access, sharing, and secondary use of data in support of translational, clinical, and epidemiological-population level research.

The final product of the project is the HealthyCloud Strategic Agenda for the European Health Research and Innovation Cloud (HRIC), which emerged after exploring the implications for the HRIC and its relationship with existing EU-level initiatives like the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and HealthData@EU, the infrastructure for the secondary use of health-related data of the European Health Data Space (EHDS). The Strategic Agenda, informed by diverse stakeholders input, integrates existing and future systems for managing health-related data for research, innovation and policy-making purposes while incorporating elements towards the sustainability of the overall ecosystem. It leverages European computational capacities, including High-Performance Computing, to guide data access, sharing, and secondary use, aligning with the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2021-2024 priorities in Personalised Medicine and Healthcare.

The HRIC will provide five services:

  1. A monitoring service for health-related research
  2. A legal/regulatory guidance service
  3. Metadata standards and a data interoperability guidance service
  4. A health research community interface service, with the EOSC
  5. A health research community interface service, with HealthData@EU

An initial implementation phase will serve to determine the actual requirements for the sustainability of each service, considering its specific scope and piloting with relevant stakeholders. A second phase will consist of the sustainable delivery of the HRIC Services with a fit-for-purpose vision and a long-term operational plan and resourcing.

Juan Gonzalez, Biocomputing Unit Manager at the Aragon Health Institute of Sciences and co-coordinator of the HealthyCloud Project highlighted that,

The Health Research and Innovation Cloud will be a key piece for aligning major developments in the health data sharing in Europe, such as the EOSC and the EHDS’.

Salvador Capella-Gutierrez, Spanish National Bioinformatics (INB) Coordination Node team lead at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center—Centro Nacional de Supercomputación, and co-coordinator of the Project emphasized that,

‘HRIC is advancing the sustainable use of European computational capabilities in collaboration with Research Infrastructures, fostering the responsible use and re-use of health-related data for research, innovation and policy-making at European scale following the Open Science principles’.

A corresponding policy brief  offers an overview of the implementation of HRIC services through the systematic explanation of their purpose, interaction with different stakeholders, and the phases of the implementation process.

Figure 1. Interaction of the proposed five services with different stakeholders and European efforts for the use of health-related data for research, innovation, and policy-making purposes.

The HRIC, equipped with monitoring, legal guidance, metadata standards, and community interface services, promises efficient and sustainable health research. Its phased development ensures technical implementation and long-term collaboration, positively impacting the future of health research and data management in Europe.

About HealthyCloud

HealthyCloud (Health Research & Innovation Cloud) is funded by the European Commission with a budget of €3 million and is active from 1 March 2021 to 31 August 2023. It brings together 21 organizations from 11 countries with broad and yet complementary expertise, including European Research Infrastructure Consortiums, national public health institutes, data hubs and academic institutions. The partners of the project are Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud (IACS), Sciensano, European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN), EGI Foundation, Biobanks and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC), European Advanced Translational Research Infrastructure in Medicine (EATRIS), Euro-BioImaging, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Technologie Und Methodenplattform Fur Die Vernetzte Medizinische Forschung Ev (TMF), Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Austrian National Public Health Institute (GÖG), Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Servicio Andaluz de Salud (SAS), University of Luxembourg (UNILU), Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), CSC – IT Center for Science, University of Tartu, German Network for Bioinformatics Infrastructure (de.NBI-Cloud), Serviços Partilhados do Ministério da Saúde Epe (SPMS), Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC).

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