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Virtual Access

Call 1 of Virtual Access is now closed.  Prioritization of Requests will take place across August - September 2020.

19 SYNTHESYS+ partners are offering Virtual Access (VA) to their collections. Researching a collection often requires being present in the collection itself. Virtual Access aims to remove the reliance on physical access by piloting a 'Digitisation on Demand' (DoD) model. In Call 1, c. €500,000 will be allocated to pilot digitisation projects, where collection items will be digitised on behalf of a research community by SYNTHESYS+ Access partners.

All VA proposals will be considered by an international panel of collections and digitisation experts. Funding will be prioritised, with the resulting data being made freely available for use by research communities. 

VA is a new approach to accessing collections and VA workflows will vary across organisations. Because of this, each participating organisation has appointed a VA Coordinator, who can advise Proposers on feasibility. VA Coordinators will also produce a budget which will be attached to your Proposal and reviewed by the panel.  Our list on the right contains the contact details of each VA Coordinator. 

Proposers must contact the VA Coordinator(s) of the institution(s) they would like to work with, in order for their proposal to be submitted. 

Prior to this Call, an ‘Ideas Call’ ran between October – November 2019, offering potential Proposers the chance to outline their ideas for collections digitisation across the SYNTHESYS+ consortium.

The 'Ideas Call' - report published

The 'Ideas Call' was our chance to understand the needs of research communities before we launched this pilot project. The SYNTHESYS+ Management Team would like to thank all who participated - we received 26 complete proposals, submitted from proposers based across 15 nations, many with a collaborative scope encompassing multiple institutions, and covering a range of natural science disciplines, digitisation workflows, and collection types. This has provided the SYNTHESYS+ Virtual Access programme with useful information to inform our preparations for the first Call of Virtual Access in 2020.

We look forward to seeing these revised proposals (as well as new ones), in the first Call!

Click here to read the Ideas Call paper, published in Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO)

How will VA applications be considered?

All proposals to Virtual Access will be reviewed by our VA prioritisation panel. Projects will be funded where the resulting open data will provide a broad benefit to the European Research Community (ERC) and contribute to addressing Societal Challenges

The VA prioritisation panel is a team of world expert natural sciences and digital collections professionals. 

After prioritisation is confirmed, projects will be funded in accordance with their priority ranking. Due to high demand, we anticipate that not all projects will be funded. 

Developing Virtual Access

There will be two VA Calls in SYNTHESYS+, each with a total budget of €500,000. This is a pilot for the Virtual Access initiatives of DiSSCo, and lessons learned will inform the work of the DiSSCo project. DiSSCo will expand on the legacies of SYNTHESYS and inherit much of the Joint Research Activities (JRA), and Networking Activities (NA) – a scope of programme objectives that include the development of new collections technologies and molecular and digital standards.

Now is an important time to consider how collections can best be digitised and serve the needs of the research community. An assessment of the world’s largest collections showed that only a fraction (4.5–18% for the eight largest collections) have been digitised. VA in SYNTHESYS+ will address this critical gap, helping insitutions to increase their proportion of digital collections in response to strong demand by current, emerging, and new user communities – and ensure free access to all Users and data for those engaged in natural history and collections science. 

Participating organisations

Click on each organisation to learn more about their collection. 

Applications are closed

We are now delivering the Requests we received for Call 1. Call 2 will launch in Spring 2021. 

And follow our News page and Twitter for updates. 

Virtual Access Costbook

All Proposals require a cost model. This will be completed by a VA Coordinator and attached to your Proposal. 

VA Coordinators can download the Virtual Access Costbook here. 

Virtual Access FAQ

Have a question about Virtual Access? Our Frequently Asked Questions page may have the answer. 

Click here to read Virtual Access FAQs

Find your VA Coordinator

  • Natural History Museum, London:
  • Natural History Museum Wien: Maria Marschler,
  • Meise Botanic Garden:  
  • Royal Botanic Institute Natural Sciences: Patrick Semal.
  • Royal Museum Central Africa:   
  • Narodni Museum Prague: Jiri Frank
  • Museum fur Naturkunde, Berlin: Frederik Berger.
  • Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum: Robert Vogt.
  • Naturmuseum Senckenberg: Marco Thines.
  • Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde Stuttgart, Joachim Holstein.  
  • University Copenhagen: Martin Vinther Sorensen.
  • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas: Begona Sanchez.
  • LUOMOS, Anne Koivunen.
  • Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris & 

  • Hebrew University Jerusalem, Rivka Ribanovich,
  • Hungarian Natural History Museum, Bernadett Dome 
  • Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Steffen Kiel. 
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Elspeth Haston.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Sarah Phillips.