EMBL institutional partnerships are close cooperative affiliations between EMBL and external institutions of comparable standard, vision and international orientation.

Working relationships at the institutional level are based on shared institutional goals and scientific synergy or complementarity. The aim is to leverage the EMBL model together with the strengths of the partners, to create an interlinked system of excellent institutions that enhance molecular life science in Europe and the world.

Alliances with institutions on or near EMBL sites.

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Structural Biology

The Partnership for Structural Biology, based at EMBL's Grenoble site, provides common technical platforms for state-of-the-art structural biology projects. Partners coordinate scientific activities and drive the development of new instruments and methods.

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Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron

The Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) on the DESY campus in Hamburg hosts top-notch research activities in structural biology, systems biology and infection biology.

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Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit

The MMPU brings EMBL together with the University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. The unit has more than 100 internationally recruited members, divided into eight research groups whose research themes address diseases from blood disorders to cancers.

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Wellcome Sanger Institute

This charitably funded genomic research centre focusses on understanding the role of genetics in health and disease, and seeks to uncover the basis of genetic and infectious disease. The institute shares a campus in Hinxton, UK, with EMBL-EBI.

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Centre for Genomic Regulation

At EMBL's Barcelona site, the CRG unit is investigating systems biology, to further understand key aspects of biology relevant to human health.

Opportunities for national institutions to benefit from the EMBL model.

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EMBL Australia Partnership Laboratory

Research groups across Australia are linked through the EMBL partnership model. The scientific programme builds on EMBL’s activities in systems biology and capitalises on the strengths of Australian life and health sciences.

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HCEMM-EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine logo

HCEMM-EMBL partnership for molecular medicine

HCEMM is the Hungarian Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine. This partnership focusses on cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases especially affecting older generations, thereby providing a bridge from fundamental to translational research.

Center of Excellence for Neural Plasticity and Brain Disorders BRAINCITY logo
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Nordic EMBL partnership for molecular medicine

The Nordic EMBL Partnership is a major strategic player in Europe’s molecular understanding of disease mechanisms, thanks to its complementary research expertise, outstanding research infrastructures and industry collaborations.

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Sars International Centre for Molecular Marine Biology

The partnership between EMBL and the Sars International Centre realises the potential for uniting the institutes' complementary strengths in order to facilitate scientific exchange and collaboration in the field of marine molecular biology.

Vilnius University Life Sciences Center logo

VU LSC-EMBL Partnership for Genome Editing Technologies beta

EMBL and VU LSC, recognising the scientific and technological potential of uniting their complementary strengths in the field of targeted genome modification, decided to intensify existing links and build further institutional synergies by creating the Partnership for Genome Editing Technologies.

Frequently asked questions

What is an ‘institutional partnership’? EMBL institutional partnerships are close cooperative affiliations between EMBL and external institutions of comparable standard, vision and international orientation. They are working relationships at the institutional level that are based on shared institutional goals and scientific synergy or complementarity. Their aim is to leverage the successful EMBL model and competences, together with the strengths of the partners, to create an interlinked system of excellent institutions and thus enhance the development of the molecular life sciences in Europe and the world.
What is the mechanism for establishing a partnership? Once a proposal for collaboration is on the table, the EMBL directorship launches a negotiation procedure with the interested institution. The negotiation draws on a set of general rules, established by EMBL Council simultaneously with the approval of the Scientific Programme 2001-2005. According to these rules, EMBL partnerships are special cooperations with national institutions in EMBL member states that do not require Council approval. The final decision to enter into a partnership is at the discretion of EMBL Director General.
What are the main requirements for establishing a partnership? Although every partnership is tailor made in order to best serve the needs of the institutions involved, there are certain criteria that should be met. Most importantly, all EMBL partnerships build upon the principle of scientific excellence.

Partner institutes should be – or have the ambition to become – leading at least at the national level, preferably at the international level, in the research area they pursue.

Also, for the partnership to be of mutual benefit, partner institutes should be engaged in activities that complement the research conducted in EMBL. Scientific complementarity can be fulfilled in different ways: it can encompass entire research fields that are not covered by EMBL or areas in which EMBL is active, but in which synergy can be achieved through a partnership.

Further, partner institutes are encouraged to adopt aspects of EMBL administrative model, such as international recruitment, regular external review, staff turnover system, etc.

Notably, although EMBL can provide to its partners resources in terms of scientific expertise and exchange of services and know-how, net transfer of EMBL financial resources to partner institutes is not possible. Partner organisations are responsible for securing their own funding.

Why does EMBL enter into partnerships? There are two main incentives for entering into partnerships. Firstly, EMBL and the partner organisations mutually reinforce the quality of their research by complementing each other’s expertise, exchanging valuable know-how and making joint use of services and infrastructure. Second, partnerships satisfy the member states’ request for integration of national scientific communities within EMBL’s research culture and scientific expertise.
What are the characteristics of local alliances and remote partnerships? Current institutional partnerships are divided into two categories: local and remote.

Local alliances involve institutions on or near EMBL campuses, and emerged from the recognised benefits of sharing infrastructure and equipment. Due to their nature they stimulate close collaboration between the stakeholders and facilitate the coordination of all activities taking place within the joint unit.

Remote partnerships were inspired by the desire of member states to make sure that EMBL’s research strategy and successful operational model are implemented on the national level. In this sense, remote partnerships comprise not only an inter-institutional research initiative, but also a tool for securing better integration and participation of national scientific communities into EMBL’s activities and opportunity for national institutions to benefit from EMBL’s successful organisational model.

What are the benefits for a partner institute? By entering into partnership with EMBL, partner institutes gain significant international visibility and add to their international profile. As a result, the recruitment system of partner institutes is internationalised, and the quality and quantity of their recruitment pool is enhanced.

Additionally, partnerships bridge the expertise of highly qualified researchers and thus facilitate ambitious joint research projects whose goals can only be accomplished through a coordinated European effort.

How are partner institutes selected? Research institutes should fulfill the aforementioned requirements in order to be eligible for potential partnerships. EMBL approaches partnerships in two ways – reactively and proactively.

Proactively, partnerships are initiated by EMBL whenever there is a need for scientific collaboration, usually in terms of shared infrastructure, facilities and services. Local alliances were created in this manner.

Reactively, EMBL would not seek out new partnerships, but would consider a potential collaboration once a proposal is raised by member states. This approach is used in the establishment of remote partnerships. Overall, the reactive approach prevails in EMBL partnership policy. Once a member state partnership initiative is approved, there are various methods of selecting the partner institute.

Science is global and EMBL is engaged in relations with numerous institutions in its member states and beyond. International relations are fostered and maintained at a political, institutional and scientific level in Europe and worldwide.