HealthyCloud: Finalising the Strategic Agenda for the European Health Research and Innovation Cloud
On 6 October 2023 the Strategic Agenda for the Health Research and Innovation Cloud (HRIC) was presented by ECRIN’s director Jacques Demotes during the HealthyCloud Final Event in Valencia, Spain.
The idea of a HRIC for researchers, healthcare professionals, industry and policy makers across Europe was born during a workshop organised by the European Commission (EC) in 2018. As a result of this workshop, the HealthyCloud project was funded with the aim of developing the Strategic Agenda of the HRIC together with relevant stakeholders. Due to the rapidly evolving research, regulatory and infrastructure framework relating to health research in Europe, the work began by assessing the changing landscape, exploring the implications for the HRIC and the articulation of its relationship with existing large infrastructure initiatives like the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and HealthData@EU, the infrastructure for secondary use of health-related data of the European Health Data Space (EHDS).
Gaps and uncertainties were identified as potential challenges for using and reusing data in health-related research and providing both rationale and focus areas for the HRIC. As a result of the intensive discussion within the HealthyCloud consortium and following the recommendations given by stakeholder groups, five services were specified for provision by the HRIC:
- A monitoring service for health-related research
- A legal/regulatory guidance service
- A metadata standards and data interoperability guidance service
- A health research community interface service, with the EOSC
- A health research community interface service, with HealthData@EU
A detailed description of these services is provided in the pre-final draft of the Strategic Agenda (https://zenodo.org/record/8389643).
Given the ongoing infrastructure initiatives, it would be redundant to create a new infrastructure for the HRIC. Instead, a minimal coordination and orchestration body was decided to be sufficient to minimise the administrative overload. Under this body, the HRIC should have a federated organisation based on existing partners, such as European Research Infrastructures (RIs). Possible governance models for the HRIC are highly dependent on the envisaged organisational structure, which has yet to be determined. If the HRIC is affiliated to an existing organisation (e.g., EOSC), it must be integrated into the governance of that organisation. The possibility of creating a European Union (EU) Mission on “Health Research and Innovation” should be explored.
With respect to implementation and sustainability, two sequential phases are recommended for the further development of the HRIC:
- Development and pilot phase
- Maintenance and sustainability phase
The development and pilot phase would provide the procedures and tools required for technical implementation of the proposed HRIC services and should be limited to 2-3 years, supported by EC project funding. The maintenance and sustainability plan should be developed, approved, and implemented during the development and pilot phase and in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders (including key EOSC and EHDS actors) and potential funders. Potential financing models include “fee for services”, in kind contributions from existing RIs, funding through Member States contributions and EC funding by making use of the services an eligible category in EC projects.
For more information, the agenda and the Youtube link with the recording of the final meeting are publicly available at https://healthycloud.eu/event/healthyclouds-final-event/.