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EOSCpilot science demonstrators boost follow-up initiatives in federating European Open Science Cloud concept

At the PLAN-E Workshop, the Platform of National eScience Centers in Europe, that was hosted in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, we talked with Juan Bicarregui, who is the coordinator of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Pilot project. Since this project is well underway, it was a good time to see how things are going. The Pilot is the first project in the programme of projects that will be building the European Open Science Cloud. It started in January 2017. It is a very broad project covering lots of different aspects. The EOSC Pilot is covering governance and policy. The project partners are also creating a number of science demonstrators showing particular features of the European Open Science Cloud and looking at architecture and the skills required in the community.

Just to give an idea, what is the size of the project?

Juan Bicarregui: The project began with 50 partners but we now have 60 of them because we brought in more partners during the project to do more science demonstrators. EOSCpilot has a budget of 10 million euro over two years, seven work packages, and about one thousand staff months in total.

Well, it is not a very big project but it is a considerably sized project. How does it fit into the overall European Open Science Cloud idea?

Juan Bicarregui: It is the first project that is building the European Open Science Cloud. This Fall, it is starting up a number of work streams that will then be picked up by other projects separately, such as the EOSChub project for example. EOSChub is developing services. EOSChub started about a year behind the EOSCpilot project. We will hand over the work that we have done on services to that project when we finish. There is also going to be a governance project that will be announced soon and will probably start in 2019. This project will pick up for example the governance and the policy work package work that we did, and similarly with the other strands. They will also be picked up by other projects. So really we have been starting off a lot of different streams of work.

What will be the size of the European Open Science Cloud in two or three years from now?

Juan Bicarregui: The programme in the Work Programme for the remainder of Horizon 2020 is under the name of INFRA-EOSC. In there, there are six or seven action lines more or less with a total budget somewhere in the region of 300 million euro.

That is the funding on the European level. Do you have any idea about the financing level that is being put in at the national level? Is there also money put in there?

Juan Bicarregui: The idea with the EOSC is that it will bring together the existing national infrastructure funds. Those will continue as is. The scale of those is very much bigger than the EOSC funding. The EOSC funding really is to do the work that can bring those different things together. One of the slogans that we are using in the project is called 'federating the gems'. We recognize that there are a lot of very good infrastructures out there - both physical and electronic infrastructures - and serving many different domains. We are trying to use the EOSC programme to make those more interoperable so that they can work together better.

Europe has of course infrastructures on a national scale but also, for instance, research infrastructures which operate already internationally. Do you want to combine them all into the European Open Science Cloud?

Juan Bicarregui: I think the vision of the EOSC is that they will all integrate in some way through it clearly, but that is not something that can be done all at once. We have to look for those areas where there is the maximum benefit and begin with those.

The current programme Horizon 2020 will end in 2020. After that, there is Horizon Europe which will also be a big research programme at the European level. How will EOSC continue into that?

Juan Bicarregui: That is a good question. In Horizon Europe, the research programme is structured into three areas. One of them is open science and the EOSC is really building the infrastructure to support that open science. One of the three major pillars of Horizon Europe will be open science. A lot of the work will be continuation of work that is going on now. The idea of open science will be integrated throughout the whole of that work programme.