The Belgian national research and education network facilitates open science in Belgium and in Europe.
Last month, Belnet, the Belgian research and education network, was appointed as the mandated organisation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Association for Belgium. The aim of EOSC is to create a new European web of data as a means of stimulating interdisciplinary research and thereby boosting science and the economy.
The European Open Science Cloud
Scientists increasingly need reliable digital data to conduct further research. At the request of the international research community, the European Commission and the Member States of the EU have developed a framework to facilitate the shift towards open science. The aim of that framework is to set up a federation of e-infrastructures and associated services that will help researchers link their research data together to form a web of ‘FAIR’ data (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable data).
To achieve that ambitious objective, the Commission set up the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Association, which will play a part in policy-making in the area of research e-infrastructures and budget management.
In each Member State or associated country, a single organisation will then be appointed and authorised to represent the interests of that country. Last month, Belnet was selected by the Interministerial Conference for Science Policy as the mandated organisation for Belgium.
“As a National Research and Education Network (NREN), Belnet is one of the few research-oriented infrastructures in Belgium that is national in scope. What is more, we also have a number of qualities that will enable us to further consolidate our role as a service provider in the area of Open Science on a national and international level,” said Nathalie Pinsart, the Co-General Director of Belnet.
Having obtained its mandate, Belnet will directly influence the strategic direction of the EOSC Association and will represent the interests of all players that form part of the Belgian research landscape. In order to achieve this, Belnet will develop a close working relationship with a number of parties, including the various authorities that hold powers in the scientific domain.
In addition to its international and strategic role, Belnet also has an important role to play as a Service Provider.
As Chris De Loof, Special Adviser EOSC at Belnet explained: “At every stage of his/her data life cycle, a researcher needs technical tools that will play a supporting role. Initially, we will offer research institutions our basic service, such as connectivity and security. In addition, we will take care to provide a variety of value-added services that EOSC can make use of. We will therefore work with EOSC to identify solutions in areas such as information security, secure data storage, authentication solutions and so on.”
Belnet has been the privileged IT partner for research, education, and government for over 25 years. Belnet has been providing high-quality, innovative network infrastructures and related services to Belgian universities, colleges, research centres, and public services since 1993. This is how we contribute to the development of the knowledge and information society. The ultra-high performance of the Belnet network transports huge data flows and stimulates (inter)national cooperation in the field of research and education. In addition, Belnet offers innovative services in the areas of connectivity, security, cloud, and mobility. Thanks to its expertise, unique market position, and economies of scale, Belnet is able to meet the specific needs of the over 200 member organisations that together represent 800,000 end users. Belnet has about 80 employees and has the status of a state department with separate management within the Federal Science Policy. In addition to the Belgian research network, Belnet also manages the Belgian internet node BNIX. More information is available at www.belnet.be.