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Background

The process of the creation of DiSSCo-ES started to arise in 2001, when the National Museum of Natural Sciences and the Royal Botanical Garden of the CSIC obtained the consideration of the European Union as a Large European Scientific Infrastructure (ESFRI).

BIOD-IBERIA

The European Commission approved the  BIOD-IBERIA proyect (2001-2004) under its 5th Framework Program, which lasted until February 2004. This program financed the visits of researchers from the European Union or associated countries to these two CSIC institutes. Its objective was primarily to study the scientific collections and to collaborate with the curators and members of the departments. Funding included travel and living expenses and access to collections and laboratories.

BIOD-IBERIA was one of the six major taxonomic Infrastructures in Europe, together with those of the United Kingdom (SYS-RESOURCE), France (COLPARSYST), Denmark (COBICE), Sweden (HIGH-LAT) and Belgium (ABC).

The results of the project was considered a success by the European Commission because of the number of applications received and the promotion of the international scientific collaboration in Europe. For this reason, the Commission included in the VI Framework Program the possibility of submitting applications integrated by several European institutions, in a program it called I3 (Integrated Infrastructure Initiative).

SYNTHESYS

All the institutions approved in the V Framework Program were members of CETAF, the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities, founded on December 1, 1996 by 10 institutions from 8 countries, being the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales de Madrid one of the founding members.

In the VI Framework Program, CETAF presented an application integrated by all the member institutions of the consortium in a project called SYNTHESYS, choosing the Natural History Museum of London as the leading institution. The project received one of the highest ratings and it was launched in 2004 with funding of 13 million euros over five years.

In addition to access activities (TA) this new coordinated project included network activities (NA) and joint research activities (JRA) that addressed many issues of importance to the collections, including standards for collections, the development and maintenance of taxonomic databases, the development of storage and retrieval systems for new collection types (DNA), or the implementation of new physical and analytical methods. The project promoted the use of good practices in the handling and management of collections, offering training courses and guides for their care, storage and conservation. It has since had continuity and FP7 SYNTHESYS2 (2009-2013) and FP7 SYNTHESYS3 (2013-2017) were approved, which developed new methods for new physical and virtual (DNA and digital) collections.

DiSSCo

DiSSCo is the natural evolution of the SYNTHESYS consortium, in response to the European Community’s demand for coordinated infrastructure access projects

to have strong links with ESFRI. DiSSCo was approved at ESFRI ROADMAP 2018 to fill a gap in European environmental infrastructures preserving biological collections and was being developed at the same time SYNTHESYS3 was underway. Once DiSSCo was approved, H2020 SYNTHESYS PLUS (20019-2023) was approved, which also included virtual access (VA) pilot projects.

Meanwhile, in March 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Madrid between CSIC and the University of Navarra to form a Consortium to join forces to support the application for DiSSCo to enter ESFRI ROADMAP 2018. This document represents the starting point of the DiSSCo National Node in Spain.

In January 2020 DiSSCo became part of the CSIC Strategic Plan for Large Research Infrastructures (GII), and in March 2022 the five organizations participating in the Node at that time (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Universidad de Navarra, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidad de Valencia, and the Consorcí Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona) unanimously approved the Terms of Reference. This document set out the collaborative relationships between the participants.

In May 2022 the CSIC supported DiSSCo-ES, granting the project “Consolidation and leadership actions of the Spanish node in DiSSCo” (ref. INFRA20012), within the CSIC call for Large European Research Infrastructures 2022.