Funding awarded for bioinformatics infrastructure

EMBL-EBI data centre close-up

Funding awarded for bioinformatics infrastructure

14 Mar 2019 - 11:00


  • Life science research depends on open and reliable data
  • To enable further scientific discovery, life science data needs to be well-organised, seen in context and easily accessible
  • UKRI has awarded infrastructure funding to support the open data resources provided by EMBL-EBI, responding to the high levels of data growth

March 14, Cambridge UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has awarded £45 million to EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), to enhance the institute’s technical and building infrastructure. The funding, which comes from the UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund, will support EMBL-EBI’s existing and emerging data resources, including in areas of major interest, such as genomics and bioimaging.

EMBL-EBI is a global leader in the storage, analysis and dissemination of large biological datasets. It hosts numerous centralised data resources, which are critically important for academic and commercial life science research.

The volume and diversity of life science research data are growing rapidly, partly due to the rise of new technologies, such as single-cell sequencing, and cryo-electron microscopy. Open, freely available research data is an important driver for new discoveries, but scientific data sharing requires, among other things, robust data resources. Databases and tools should be able to collate, store and facilitate the analysis of vast amounts of data produced around the world.

To meet the increasing demand for open-access data resources, EMBL-EBI will use the recently awarded UKRI funding to expand the institute’s technical infrastructure. This will include the set-up of new data storage solutions, as well as the scaling up of existing data resources. The funding will also be used to provide secure, shared analysis platforms for major research collaborations.

“EMBL-EBI websites receive over 38 million requests for data or analysis every day,” says Ewan Birney, Director of EMBL-EBI. “The demand for our data resources has risen dramatically in the last decade and we expect this trend to continue, so we need to be ready for when it happens. Building a robust and accessible data infrastructure is crucial for the life science discoveries of the next decades.”  

“EMBL-EBI collaborates with academia, industry and governments to develop databases, tools and software that make life science research data available to all,” says Melanie Welham, Executive Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UKRI. “We hope that this funding will enable them to scale up the amazing work they are already doing within the life science community and beyond.”

“EMBL is extremely grateful for UKRI’s support. Supporting EMBL-EBI means investing into essential infrastructure that enables scientists worldwide to advance our understanding of life and contribute to the economy of knowledge, with an impact on areas such as human health and environmental sustainability,” says Professor Edith Heard, Director General of EMBL.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funds world-class research and the Strategic Priorities Fund supports high-quality, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary programmes identified by researchers and businesses at the cutting edge of research and innovation.

Discover more

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.


Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the Arts and Humanities Research Council; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council; Innovate UK; Medical Research Council; Natural Environment Research Council; Research England; and Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Contact the news team

Oana Stroe
Communications Officer
+44 (0)1223 494 369

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