The European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC) - European Research Infrastructure

Start date
1 June, 2015
End date
1 June, 2017

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is a member of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC) UK node. EMBRC is a group of leading European marine research centres, which is also known as a distributed Research Infrastructure (RI). It provides access to European coastal seas and the endemic fauna, with the addition of Antarctica via BAS.

Researchers collect marine invertebrates like starfish (odontaster validus) from Antarctica

EMBRC with its extensive expertise and specialist facilities is the major European provider of marine biological research infrastructure and related services, championing the future sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources. Through networking and collaborative research, the EMBRC will contribute to Blue Growth in Europe: encouraging improved exploitation of marine resources as well as the development of medicines (anti-cancer), blue energies (fuel made from algae) and many other end-products from the sea.

EMBRC provides services not only to the marine science community, but also to local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and private sector industrial companies, making marine organisms, model ecosystems and the expertise associated with their study available to all.

Marine biologists study the unique biodiversity in Antarctica

EMBRC, which aims to serve its members for 25 years, supports the marine research community, encouraging the study of marine biodiversity for innovation and technological advancement. Areas of research that will be supported by EMBRC include: biodiversity and ecosystem function, developmental biology, biogeochemistry and global change, marine products and resources and biomedical science.

As part of EMBRC, BAS supports two access calls:

  • The Transnational Access Call program which supports research projects in marine biotechnology. It provides researchers from academia and industry with access to research services for marine biotech at its partner institutes, such as British Antarctic Survey, to enable them to carry out their research projects on marine organisms. Researchers can apply for access to samples in the BAS aquarium and our laboratories in Cambridge. There is also the potential to access specimen collections either frozen or in ethanol and remote access to samples from the Antarctic. For further information and to apply click here.


  • ASSEMBLE PLUS brings together and opens up research infrastructures to all European researchers in the marine field, from both academia and industry. Researchers can apply for funding bi-annually to collaborate with BAS and collect samples and specimens from the BAS Rothera Research station in Antarctica. For further information and to apply click here.

EMBRC aims to deliver services such as:

  • Providing access to European coastal marine biota and their ecosystems
  • Providing an integrated supply of marine model species, for multidisciplinary research
  • Offering state-of-the-art research services
  • Disseminating knowledge to stakeholders and the general public
  • Offering interdisciplinary training in marine biological sciences and marine genomics
  • Promoting collaboration between academia and industry
Antarctica fauna is incredibly diverse and at risk from a changing ocean – credit: Huw Griffiths

EMBRC also aims to:

  • Reinforce links to other European Strategy Fora on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)
  • Contribute towards an interoperable global marine knowledge system
  • Establish an open platform for data sharing
  • Implement standardised procedures of data gathering, evaluation, storage and calibration to optimise interoperability among research infrastructures (RIs)
  • Provide up-to-date RIs across Member States
  • Foster interdisciplinary research and innovation capabilities
  • Promote mobility and exchange of knowledge and personnel between industry and academia

Early in 2014, EMBRC successfully completed its preparatory phase and moved into the implementation phase. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) came into effect in December 2013. The current MoU signatories include France, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. These countries have agreed to undertake the necessary steps to establish EMBRC as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). The HQ will be hosted by the University Pierre and Marie Currie (UPMC) with the Central National de la Recherché Scientific (CNRS) in Jussieu, Paris.

UK involvement:

The Scottish Government, through Marine Scotland, has signed the MoU on behalf of the UK. An EMBRC UK node has been set up and its members include:

  • British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
  • Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS)
  • Marine Biological Association (MBA) and the Plymouth cluster
  • Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)
  • Scottish Government (through Marine Scotland)
  • University of St Andrews (Scottish Oceans Institute)

The EMBRC UK node will provide the UK representation to the EMBRC Implementation Board and communicate progress on EMBRC within the UK. The node will collect metrics to demonstrate EMBRC’s success and benefits. Marine Scotland will provide updates on EMBRC to the UK Marine Science Coordination Committee (MSCC).

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