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Press Release No. 15 | 27 May 2019
Successful Kick-off for Germany’s National Research Data Infrastructure

First NFDI conference provides forum for discussion and networking

On 13 and 14 May 2019, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) hosted an initial conference in Bonn focusing on the establishment of a German national research data infrastructure (NFDI). At the end of the two-day event, all attendees described it as extremely positive. They particularly emphasised the general consensus that an infrastructure of this kind can only be created if all participants share responsibility for it.

Approximately 250 people attended the conference, including more than 170 representatives from prospective consortia to present and discuss their concepts with each other, with international experts and with members of the NFDI Expert Committee.

The guiding principle of the conference was that the development of a sustainable research data infrastructure can only be achieved through cooperation. It was this idea that prompted the DFG to organise the NFDI conference prior to announcing its first call for proposals. The conference provided an ideal forum for exchanging ideas, intensive networking and collaboration. For example, it was emphasised several times during the conference that the primary aim of the NFDI is not to provide funding for individual proposals or consortia, but to create a networked infrastructure.

“Communication between consortia is vitally important with regard to NFDI funding,” said the chair of the Expert Committee, DFG Vice President Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Allgöwer. “Our aim was to make the conference an open networking forum that took place ahead of the review process and was independent of it.” The goal of networking is also reflected in the review and selection process, which will assess not only the subject-related quality of the planned consortia but also the interfaces and interdependencies between them.

In addition to basic and strategic questions relating to the NFDI, the panels at the conference discussed the nature and size of consortia, the needs of researchers, the integration of scientific users in consortia, focus and profile-building in terms of subject area, method and domain, and fundamental and concrete issues relating to data management. As a result, the conference helped to initiate restructuring processes to tailor the planned consortia.

The participants also discussed in depth what contributions the planned consortia could make to enhance the success of a cooperative national research data infrastructure. In addition, they addressed how various topic areas that are relevant to all NFDI consortia, such as data quality, governance and the integration of existing infrastructures, should be jointly managed.

The aim of the national research data infrastructure (NFDI) is to systematically manage scientific and research data, provide long-term data storage, backup and accessibility, and network the data both nationally and internationally. The NFDI will bring multiple stakeholders together in a coordinated network of consortia tasked with providing science-driven data services to research communities.

Following the NFDI conference in Bonn, the Expert Committee met to discuss the first call for proposals for NFDI consortia. The call will be published on the DFG’s NFDI web page in June 2019.

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