The European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN) is a sustainable, public, non-profit organisation that links scientific partners and networks across Europe to facilitate multinational clinical research. It has the legal status of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).
ECRIN supports multinational clinical trials in Europe, which provide increased access to patients, resources and expertise. In particular, ECRIN supports investigators and sponsors in the planning and design of clinical trials, and provides services for the management of multinational trials. ECRIN is also involved in activities to enhance the ability of European sponsors to successfully conduct multi-country clinical research (e.g. tools/database development, data centre certification).
Moreover, ECRIN is involved in 'infrastructure development' projects that aim to further develop the European clinical research community and facilitate multinational trials.
ECRIN’s coordination office (or headquarters) is based in Paris, which is where the ‘core team’ is located. It has one or more European Correspondents based in each member or observer country. In addition to its member and observer countries, ECRIN works with many countries in Europe, as well as internationally.
European correspondents (EuCos) are clinical research experts with extensive knowledge of the national and European clinical research landscape. They manage the clinical trial portfolio and coordinate with the national scientific partner with support from the Paris-based core team.
Each country hosts a EuCo, who usually is seconded to ECRIN by the national scientific partner (see below).
Each national scientific partner is a network of academic clinical trial units (CTUs) located at or affiliated to national universities and hospitals. You can find the list of ECRIN’s national scientific partners at the Members & Observers page.
Membership and eligibility for ECRIN support
ECRIN members and observers are currently 13 countries. As of 2023, ECRIN has 12 member countries (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Spain and Switzerland) and one observer country (Slovakia). In each country there is one national scientific partner (see above).
ECRIN members and observers can benefit from the full range of ECRIN services for multinational trial preparation, protocol evaluation and/or trial management. Advice and information are provided free of charge by the ECRIN core team and European correspondents (EuCos). Trial management services are provided at not-for-profit rates to academic sponsors.
In particular, ECRIN charges the non-profit cost of the distributed services carried out by the national scientific partner (in its member / observer countries). This budget is then redistributed to the final service provider (i.e. the national scientific partner).
No. To be eligible for ECRIN support, projects must involve at least two member or observer countries; projects must be reviewed and approved by ECRIN (Collaboration Committee).
Yes, ECRIN can provide support services even if the trial’s coordinating country is not a member or observer, provided that the project involves at least two member and observer countries. In this case, one of ECRIN’s EuCos or the core team is assigned to the trial.
However, countries that are not members or observers cannot benefit from support for trial preparation.
ECRIN charges for the services provided to projects supported by central funding, and the cost of coordination (core team and the European correspondents).
Support services: What ECRIN does and does not do
No, ECRIN does not write the actual application. However, ECRIN can provide advice, particularly in its area of expertise: the organisation and management of multinational clinical trials.
No, it provides support services only to the project coordinator or sponsor during the preparation / start-up phase, and then to the sponsor during implementation.
ECRIN provides operational services for multinational trial management, supporting academic or SME sponsors in fulfilling the sponsors’ obligations in foreign countries. ECRIN is not the direct service provider, but delegates the provision of services to CTUs in the national partner networks. ECRIN coordinates these services through its network of EuCos, with the EuCo located in the sponsor’s and principal investigator’s country acting as the coordinating EuCo for the trial.
Some of these services are decentralised, and delivered simultaneously by local CTUs in each of the participating countries. Other services are centralised, and delivered by one single CTU for the whole trial.
Key terms and how they are related to ECRIN
Research infrastructures (RIs) are defined by the European Commission (EC) as 'facilities that provide resources and services for research communities to conduct research and foster innovation'. For more information visit this page from the European Commission.
ECRIN is an RI and, more specifically, a 'distributed RI'. That means that it has a central coordinating office (located in Paris), and it brings together national scientific partners (networks of clinical trial networks) across Europe.
ESFRI is the 'European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures', a strategic instrument to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach (learn more). ECRIN was first listed on the ESFRI 'Roadmap' in 2006.
BMS RI refers to 'Biological and Medical Sciences Research Infrastructures'. ECRIN is one of 13 such infrastructures.
'ESFRI Landmarks' are defined as 'RIs that were implemented or reached an advanced Implementation phase under the [ESFRI] Roadmap and that represent major elements of competitiveness of the [European Research Area]' (learn more). ECRIN was designated an ESFRI Landmark in 2016.
European Research Infrastructure Consortium’ (ERIC) refers to a ‘specific legal form that facilitates the establishment and operation of Research Infrastructures with European interest’ (learn more). ECRIN was awarded ERIC status in 2013.