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The world's natural history collections contain at least 2 billion specimens, of which an estimated 55% reside in Europe. The SYNTHESYS Access programme allows researchers (Users) to access collections in the SYNTHESYS consortium that may be out of reach, and to undertake research with the support of a 'Taxonomic Access Facility' (TAF). 

Each year (until 2022), there will be a Call for potential Users to submit their proposals for collections access. For the first time in the SYNTHESYS project, two kinds of Access will be offered: Transnational Access (TA), and Virtual Access (VA)

The SYNTHESYS Access programme is unique as it allows collections, staff expertise and analytical facilities to be available for Users whilst covering many of the cost and resource requirements normally associated with collections access and collections research - be these requirements physical (TA), or digital (VA). 

The 13 TAF participating institutions represent an unparalleled resource for taxonomic research offering:

  • Collections amounting to over 390 million natural history specimens, including 4.1 million type specimens
  • Internationally renowned taxonomic and systematic skill base
  • Chemical analysis, molecular and imaging facilities

Researchers from both within and outside the EU and Associated countries can apply. We welcome applications from researchers across the world. 

See below more information on our TA and VA programme, including dates for upcoming and present Calls. 

Transnational Access

Call 4 is now closed. There will be no further TA Calls in the current SYNTHESYS+ programme. Go to the Transnational Access page for more information . 

There are 4 Calls for TA across the SYNTHESYS+ programme (2019 - 2022). 

The TA programme offers researchers:

  • Funds to cover the costs of a researcher's travel, accomodation, & subsistence, whilst completing a short research visit at any one of our TA participating organisations.
  • Access to collection(s), equipment and other research infrastructure(s) named in their proposal.
  • Assistance and training from TAF staff (only if essential to the project, and named in the proposal)
  • Feedback on all proposals which are not chosen for funding by a User Selection Panel (USP) of collections experts. 

Click here to read more about our participating TAF organisations. 

Virtual Access

There will be no further VA Calls in the current SYNTHESYS+ programme. Go to the Virtual Access page for more information and Call 1 and 2 projects that have been funded. 

There were 2 Calls for VA across the SYNTHESYS+ programme, held in 2020 and 2021. 

The VA programme is a new step for the SYNTHESYS programme. It gives researchers an opportunity to propose and make the case for a collection or collection item(s) to be digitised by the holding institution for the wider benefit of the collections community. A successful VA proposal will mean the organisation will use SYNTHESYS+ funding to digitise their own collection via their own digital workflows. 

The VA programme offers researchers:

  • The chance to make the case for why a collection should be digitised for the benefit of the global research community. 
  • All collections data will be open access, and freely available to anyone, anywhere. 
  • The chance to work with digitisation teams across TAF organisations, as part of a 'Digitisation on Demand' (DoD) model of digitisation.

Click here to read more about our participating TAF organisations & the VA Call 1 and 2 results. 


Transnational Access Call 4 closed on 15th June 2022.

Thank you to all who submitted applications for access and results will be announced over the coming months.


Got a query? Our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions section will likely have the answer!

Outputs and Evaluations?

All SYNTHESYS visitors are required to complete an evaluation after their visit, and update their outputs (such as publications) on the applications portal. 

Click here to access the Call 1 and 2 applications portal.

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