MicrobiomeSupport builds on the strategy that global challenges should be tackled via global approaches by multilateral cooperation and coordination. This includes the need for a better alignment of R&I (policy) agendas in Europe and worldwide. Based on an intensive assessment and mapping exercise of the current microbiome-related R&I programmes (in EU and worldwide), infrastructures and applications throughout the food systems and beyond, strategic R&I agendas for future microbiome activities and potential synergies and joint actions elaborated in a co-creational manner. The MicrobiomeSupport project will reduce the overlap and fragmentation between EU and other national/international funding in microbiome research by a coordinated approach to reinforce collaboration and knowledge exchange within international networks, including the International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF). The MicrobiomeSupport consortium will support the set-up of an internationally agreed microbiome definition, best practices and standards, as well as consistent protocols. Based upon the jointly developed R&I agendas, the project will build a basis for joint international action in research programmes. The consortium will not only disseminate know-how in microbiome research through a series of communication and promotion activities, but will also initiate and maintain a dialogue between multiple stakeholders, actors and the public. One of the aims is to educate the public about microbiomes and microbiome applications, discuss potential risks and communicate realistic expectations. The MicrobiomeSupport webpage will be key to various activities as it will represent an online platform for interaction with and providing (regularly updated) information to various stakeholders as well as best practice examples. Furthermore, coordination of international cooperation is well implemented in the project by involving partners as well as Advisory Group members from IBF countries. In a nutshell: All MicrobiomeSupport actions will establish a future international microbiome knowledge and competence base with a holistic approach integrating all stakeholders from research, policy, industry and the general public.
According to a recent OECD-Report (September 2017) “there is now strong evidence that microbiomes play an important role in human health, as there are clear linkages to many of the major non-communicable diseases.” The report assumes key policy challenges for innovation in the microbiome and argues that if such a promising scientific field is to lead to innovative applications, policies on science and innovation must be improved in five areas: (1) science policy; (2) enabling translational science; (3) public-private collaboration; (4) regulatory frameworks; and (5) skills, communication and the public. The MicrobiomeSupport project will address these as well as additional points to enable innovative microbiome applications in the food system and beyond generating true benefit for our society.
The objectives of the project are:
- Identification and mapping of microbiome activities in the EU and worldwide, including programmes and facilities, along the food chain and beyond
The aim is to collect information on microbiome-related funding programmes, policies, research projects (completed and on-going), experts and existing collaborations, facilities, know-how (including available data sets and publications), educational programmes and applications (existing and in development) throughout the food systems and beyond. These data will be organised in a database that will be available on the project website (open access). Furthermore, the collected data will provide a basis to fill transitional gaps and for the definition of future strategic research and innovation agendas.
- Creating a platform for scientists, regulatory experts, industry, funding and policy organisations
Within microbiome R&I activities a worldwide multi-stakeholder coordination and communication will be ensured by MicrobiomeSupport. To intensify collaborations between stakeholders, the consortium will connect research (e.g. coordinators of EU-funded microbiome projects represented by the ‘Coordinators’ Platform’), industry (e.g. those companies and industry networks represented in the ‘Industry Advisory Group’), as well as funding & policy actors (e.g. those represented in the ‘Funding & Policy Advisory Group’) within Europe and worldwide and will support the International Bioeconomy Forum to implement the ‘Food Systems Microbiome’ working group.
- Improve use of existing data, to allow comparability and improved mining of microbiome data (microbiome standards and best practices)
In a first step, the consortium and involved experts will set up a common and agreed definition of the term ‘microbiome’. MicrobiomeSupport will elaborate guidelines for standardizing microbiome analysis including quality assessment strategies, develop concepts for an integrative analysis of different –omics data, define concepts for biobanking and data storage and elaborate approaches to improve use of existing data and to allow comparability and improved mining of microbiome data.
- Define strategic agendas to enable microbiome applications in the food sector and beyond
Within the whole MicrobiomeSupport network the project will facilitate the alignment of international research agendas, define common strategic R&I priorities, show and build the coherence between the Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas (SRIA) and regulations, create the frame for the development of joint international research programmes and define a case study of a multi-disciplinary, collaborative knowledge platform.
- Collaboration and coordination in support of a sustainable bioeconomy
In line with the goals of the FOOD 2030 policy approaches MicrobiomeSupport will setup a platform for collaboration and coordination across various microbiome-related R&I programmes, in Europe and worldwide, throughout the food systems and beyond, build policy coherence and exploit synergies between countries and regions in microbiome-related activities. These will support the global food system and support activities within other IBF working groups in support of a sustainable bioeconomy in Europe and beyond.
- Raising awareness and exchange of knowledge across scientific and political communities, including the International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF) and the general public
The MicrobiomeSupport project will maximize its outreach and impact through (1) effective and targeted dissemination of project outputs, drawing on the networks and communication channels of the partners represented in the consortium, (2) targeted communication with multi-level stakeholders to support a sustainable mobilisation of a wide diversity of actors important in the microbiome debate.