NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – UK-based consultancy Charles Beagrie has published an independent analysis of the value and impact of the EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute that values the center's benefits to users and funders at £1 billion ($1.4 billion) per annum at a minimum, more than 20 times the direct operational costs of the institute.
The EBI hosts and maintains several freely available life science resources including a number of biomedical databases and analysis tools. The institute is primarily funded by EMBL member states, the US National Institutes of Health, the European Commission, Research Councils UK, the Wellcome Trust and members of its industry program. The UK government has also invested in EBI's infrastructure through the Large Facilities Capital Fund, via a series of large-scale projects that are managed and facilitated by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
The institute commissioned Charles Beagrie to carry out a qualitative and quantitative analyses of its activities last year. The report is based on several measurable indicators as well as on interviews with commercial and academic service users and collaborators including some 4,500 user survey responses.
The consultancy estimated an approximately £20 million return on investment to the scientific community for every £1 million that is invested in the EBI. They also reported that the use of EMBL-EBI services contributed to the wider realization of future research impacts worth some £920 million every year. The institute's annual direct efficiency impact is estimated to be between £1 billion and £5 billion per annum.
"The findings of the value and impact assessment demonstrate that we are indeed providing a healthy return on the public investment in EMBL-EBI, but more importantly they help bring home the point that open data is essential to the success and sustainability of biomedical and life-science research," EMBL-EBI Director Rolf Apweiler said in a statement.
"This report demonstrates clear return on investment for the institute and the research community to the benefit of society and the wider global economy," Melanie Welham, BBSRC's executive director of science, added. "EMBL-EBI provides vital life-science infrastructure for researchers in the UK and beyond, generating substantial opportunities for bioscience research and the generation of new knowledge."
The full report, including details of the methodology used, is available here.