ICEDIG Opening Conference – Transforming natural sciences collections for the digital age

January 26, 2018



Hosted by the Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus, the consortium of the Horizon 2020 ICEDIG project “Innovation and consolidation for large scale digitisation of natural heritage” invites stakeholders to participate in the ICEDIG Opening Conference, titled “Transforming natural sciences collections for the digital age”.

ICEDIG is an EU-funded project that supports DiSSCo, the new pan-European Research Infrastructure initiative with the vision to position European natural science collections at the centre of data-driven scientific excellence and innovation in environmental research. In combination, these projects will help tackle the complex challenge of digitising natural science collections and providing access to collections data by addressing the technical, financial, policy and governance aspects necessary to operate DiSSCo.

Addressing today’s global environmental challenges requires access to significant quantities of data. This holds especially true for the natural sciences, where one rich data trove remains unearthed: The European scientific collections. These jointly hold more than 1.5 billion objects, representing 80% of the world’s bio- and geo-diversity. With only 10 % of these objects digitised, their information remains vastly underused, thus impeding potential applications of this critical scientific resource. To help tackle the complex challenge of digitising natural science collections and providing access to collections data, the community of European natural science institutions has submitted a proposal for a new ESFRI Research Infrastructure, the Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo). DiSSCo will enable critical new insights to address some of the world’s greatest challenges, such as biodiversity loss and climate change, by providing access to linked scientific data at a scale, and with a level of precision and accuracy that has never been achieved before. 

Conference objectives:

  • Introduce the ICEDIG project and familiarise stakeholders with the work programme
  • Share the mission and vision of DiSSCo and highlight how ICEDIG contributes to its preparation
  • Reach out to stakeholders and engage them in the co-development of innovative solutions to support the mass digitisation of natural science collections
  • Discuss the issues and challenges of mass-digitisation, sharing cutting-edge information


The consortium would like to seize the opportunity to build long lasting relationships with representatives from potential industrial partners, national and European political bodies, the research community and society. At the conference the parters of the project consortium will present the ICEDIG work programme and show how the wide group of stakeholders can contribute but also how to benefit from the project and its results.

The event is being organised in close proximity to the Di­gital Hu­man­it­ies in the Nor­dic Coun­tries Conference, taking place on the 7-9 March 2018, also in Helsinki, to showcase the potential collaborations between the two domains.




ICEDIG – Opening Conference

“Transforming natural sciences collections for the digital age”



Place: Helsinki, Finland

Venue: Economicum (Arkadiankatu, 7)

Dates: 6 March 2018 (Tuesday)

Local Hosts: University of Helsinki, Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus

Attendance: Open and free of charge



09:00 – 09:10 WELCOME

09:10 – 10:40 SETTING THE SCENE 

Convenor: Aino Juslén – NaturalHistoryMuseum LUOMUS

1. Introducing ICEDIG – Leif Schulman / Kari Lahti / Hannu Saarenmaa (Natural History Museum LUOMUS – University of Helsinki)

2. The vision and the frame for ICEDIG: DiSSCo Research Infrastructure – Dimitris Koureas (Naturalis Biodiversity Centre)

3. National digitisation initiatives: The French e-ReColNat Project – François Dusoulier (Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Toulon et du Var)

4. Mass-digitisation in the US thematic collections network – Deborah Paul (iDigBio – Integrated Digitized Biocollections)


10:40 – 11:00 Coffee break



Convenor:  Jeroen Bloothoofd (Picturae BV)

1. Semantic Web meets biology: Finnish experiences in modelling, managing, and using biological linked data – Eero Hyvönen (Aalto University and the HELDIG Programme)

2. Perspectives for combining 3D and mass-digitisation – Marc Hereld (Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois)

3. Crowd Sourcing Initiatives: Mark my Bird – Gavin Thomas (Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, The University of Sheffield)

4. Big data archiving and publication – the Zenodo experience – Tim Smith (CERN)


12:30 – 13:30  Lunch break



Convenor:  Vince Smith (NaturalHistoryMuseum, London)

1. Biodiversity data in the information age. The GBIF Biodiversity Outlook – Andrea Hahn (GBIF)

2. Collections land in the Data Commons – Benefits for science – Arturo Ariño (University of Navarra)

3. Using biodiversity data for predictions. The case of PREDICTS – Adriana de Palma (Natural History Museum London)


14:30 – 14:40  Coffee Break


14:40 – 15:50  PANEL DISCUSSION: “Building DiSSCo together”

In this panel, experts and stakeholders discuss collaborative ways to build DiSSCo by pairing up their joint knowledge and services.


15:50 – 16:00  WRAP UP






The latest news

In order to facilitate the use of our website, we use cookies.

Please confirm if you accept our tracking cookies. When declining the cookies, you can continue visiting the website without sending data to third party services. Read our complete cookie statement here.