LifeWatch is a European e-Science infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research meant to provide advanced capabilities for research on the complex biodiversity system.
In 2008, the European LifeWatch project began a preparatory phase, supported by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme. Twenty countries participated in the preparatory phase 2008-2010. The project resulted in nine work packages, which in detail describe how the infrastructure should be organized, including technical standards. LifeWatch was also included on the ESFRI (the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) roadmap.
The next phase, the construction phase, will instead be financed by a consortium where the participating countries provide the funding by membership fees and in-kind contributions. Eight countries (the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia) have submitted an application to the European Commission to form a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).
Alongside this is already underway developments that will be central to European LifeWatch, including the BioVeL (Biodiversity Virtual e-Laboratory) project. BioVeL is funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme and develops virtual laboratories for analysis of biodiversity data. A marine LifeWatch cooperation has also been initiated between the Netherlands, Sweden and Greece.
Sweden - first in line
Sweden was the first country to be granted funds to achieve a national LifeWatch structure, and began its construction phase already in 2011. Swedish LifeWatch is constructed in accordance with the standards formulated in the central European documents and work packages.
In the meantime, Sweden has chosen to await the formation of LifeWatch Europe and not participate in the current application to the European Commission. Instead Sweden initially takes an observer role in the European cooperation. The Swedish Research Council determines whether Sweden should participate in the European research consortium and provides funding for the member fee.
In addition, cooperation has been initiated between the five Nordic countries who are currently seeking funding for a joint Nordic LifeWatch infrastructure.