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Network activities

The SYNTHESYS+ consortium has developed new ways of integrating infrastructure, working on collections together, and sharing best practice and knowledge. We have divided these objectives across five discrete areas which you can read more about below, and you can find the project outputs here.

The Natural History Museum, London, will be providing the coordination and management of the SYNTHESYS+ project. Key tasks will include:

  • Operating the governance model across the consortium
  • Supporting coordinators across the consortium in their research, networking, and access activities
  • Ensuring that deliverables are produced on-time and within budget
  • Support effective communication between participants and users (those applying for access)
  • Provide risk management and strategy
  • Provide project management and report to the European Commission


To ensure that collection-holding organisations can benefit from best practice and research produced by SYNTHESYS+, a robust network of training will be in place.

Training programmes will include:

  • How to use ELViS (currently in development)
  • Best practice for data collection and data sharing
  • Expanding digital workforce skills
  • Operating a Train-the-Trainers programme
  • Providing centralised best practice documents, that advise on how to manage various collections digitisation issues
  • Developing training videos and online resources. These will illustrate best practices on a variety of topics, including DNA and tissue banking and data management
  • Implementing guidance on how to manage collections to align with the Nagoya Protocol.

This network will develop, implement, and disseminate standards of best practice to support sequencing and biobanking activities. 

This work will be developed in close association with the GGBN who will seek to certify institutions adhering to sequencing on demand and biobanking facilities associated with their collections.


● Landscape analysis & work to address gaps in current standards

● Policy/standards harmonisation & protocol support via GGBN website

● Link to other initiatives e.g. Global Genome Initiative (GGI)

Deploying molecular best practice to fulfil molecular Collections-on-Demand requests

● Development of a checklist and certification process for facilities operating on-demand access to molecular resources from their collections

● Supporting and troubleshooting on demand requests via JRA2 for SYNTHESYS/GGBN certified biobanks.


● Development of Environmental Specimen Banks: exchanging experience and developing routines and innovative techniques to support these new types of collections.

● Integration requirements for  environmental DNA and HTS library sample into biobanking facilities.  In addition to genomic DNA samples, new samples types such as environmental DNA and HTS library samples will be integrated into the local biobanks, but this generates requirements to develop best practices for storage physical storage as well as data management.

● Biobanking data integration with the GGBN portal: implementing standardised workflows to make biobank sample records available through GGBN, and ensuring adherence to GGBN data standards within institutional databases.

● Outreach and prioritisation of activities in support of new users associated with societal challenge areas like crops, veterinary, domestic animals & culture collections.

This network will develop, implement, and disseminate best practices to support digital access to collections and facilitate digitisation on demand.

This work will be developed in close association with our research activities and focus on three core areas of work. Specifically improvements to the monitoring and implementation of the CETAF stable identifier framework; implementation of the IIIF metadata standard on institutional image repositories and development and implementation of an attribution standard for collections in association with the RDA and TDWG working groups.

This network will integrate major international stakeholders to develop the global collections research agenda.

Developing an international roadmap

In mid-2018, GBIF, on behalf of the wider biodiversity science community will organise a follow up conference to the 2012 Global Biodiversity Information Outlook (GBIO) meeting. This conference will update the highly influential GBIO roadmap to support the international community in their efforts to reach a much deeper understanding of the world’s biodiversity. While the conference will predate any SYNTHESYS+ activities, SYNTHESYS+ is well placed to follow up and expand on aspects of this roadmap. Particular areas of interest include:  

● Cultural issues: (Open access and reuse culture, Data standards & the Biodiversity knowledge network)

● Data issues (published materials & collections specimens)

● Evidence issues (Taxonomic framework, Integrated occurrence data & comprehensive knowledge access)

Reaching new user communities

Across each continent, major national and regional communities have been undertaking activities comparable to those of the SYNTHESYS programme. This activity will align outputs and share best practice across continental leaders as well as international bodies. This task will identify how SYNTHESYS fits within the international landscape of comparable infrastructures (​​). A secondary function will also be to expand SYNTHESYS community and geographic coverage, in particular to areas that are currently poorly reached such as (Asia, especially  Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Kazakhstan) and some parts of Eastern Europe (including the Balkans). 

Integration with EU stakeholders

In addition to international activities, SYNTHESYS+ will seek to take a more active role working with European stakeholders. This activity will also consider issues such as language barriers to support smaller NH collections working in national languages, and map SYNTHESYS activities to EU Framework Directives, to identify how our research activity can help implement directives on areas such as climate change, invasive species and ocean acidification - ensuring SYNTHESYS+ responds to key international directives.