A pan-European research infrastructure, ECRIN has successfully developed itself as a unique, sustainably-funded, non-profit intergovernmental organisation, based on country membership. ECRIN was listed on the 2006 European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap, and this led to the attribution, in 2013, of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) legal status, enabling Member and Observer Country contributions, which sustain the organisation’s core.
Before receiving sustainable support from its Member and Observer countries, ECRIN was developed and matured through a series of five EU-funded projects (FP6, FP7 and H2020). ECRIN was created in 2004 with the goal of supporting mostly academic sponsors and investigators across Europe to overcome the barriers to multinational clinical research. ECRIN’s first European project (ECRIN-RKP, 2004-05) focused on strategy, the second (ECRIN-TWG, 2006-08) on tools, and the third (ECRIN-PPI, 2008-12) on infrastructure development.
These projects were followed by additional projects, such as ECRIN Integrating Activity or ECRIN-IA (2012-2017) and, most recently, the Paediatric Clinical Research Infrastructure Network or PedCRIN (2017-2020). The aim is not only to develop ECRIN’s ability to support multinational clinical trials of all types, but to support investigator communities to strengthen their own capacity while facilitating European/international collaboration on non-commercial and SME-sponsored trials.
Over the years, ECRIN has become involved in several additional capacity building projects and has added many new multinational clinical trials to its portfolio, spanning multiple disease areas. The provision of trial management services is its core activity. In terms of projects, ECRIN is coordinating work packages in various FP7- and H2020-funded projects (see list here), among others. As for clinical trials, ECRIN’s portfolio (of past/current projects) is now well over forty multinational studies, and growing! These studies involve, on average, seven countries, which includes both ECRIN’s nine Member and Observer countries and other countries (as a rule, ECRIN provides support to trials when they involve at least two Members). Recently, ECRIN contributed to the development of a global initiative to facilitate international collaboration in clinical trials (www.crigh.org).
Click on the links below to find out more about ECRIN’s history.
ECRIN-RKP aimed to determine bottlenecks to multinational collaboration in academic clinical studies. These were identified as discrepancies in the national organisation and practice of clinical research, as well as the inability of academic institutions to fulfil sponsors’ responsibilities in foreign countries (e.g., due to a lack of national partners or understanding of national legal and regulatory requirements, among others.
The ECRIN-RKP pilot project led to the definition of a strategy for the creation of a pan-European infrastructure for clinical research, which would become the basis for ECRIN’s future structure. The idea was to create an institutional body to facilitate multinational clinical trials by linking national scientific partners (networks of clinical trial units, CTUs) across Europe and by providing management and other services to investigators and sponsors.
The project involved analysis of existing data management tools, training resources, and national regulatory and ethical requirements, leading to recommendations and guidance documents. As part of the project, ECRIN began to develop common monitoring tools to enhance collaboration. It also started to establish networks of academic clinical trial units across Europe.
Another key development during this time was the inclusion of ECRIN, in 2006, on the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap (i.e., a European instrument for the optimal use and development of research infrastructures). This gave ECRIN additional legitimacy and visibility, and paved the way towards a sustainable future.
The project validated ECRIN’s proposed organisation, whereby the Paris-based Core Team oversees the work of European Correspondents (EuCos), situated in Member and Observer Countries (i.e., dues paying members); EuCos manage the clinical trial portfolio and support services in their respective countries in coordination with national scientific partners. Learn more.
As part of ECRIN PPI, ECRIN began to provide services to multinational clinical studies in 2009. It also established its Scientific Board and started data centre certification.
In parallel, ECRIN continued to develop its service offer, providing various forms of support to European clinical trials. It established standards for the acceptance of projects applying for such services.
Late 2013, ECRIN was awarded the status of European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) by the European Commission – a legal status to facilitate the establishment and operation of research bodies of European interest. This was a key development as it ensured ECRIN’s financial sustainability.Since 2013, ECRIN’s Paris-based Core Team has more than doubled in size, welcoming specific functions to develop its legal, capacity, operations, communications, quality and other support.
With 11 Member and Observer Countries as of 2018, ECRIN plans to increase its membership and to develop additional partnerships with European and international stakeholders.