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European Molecular Biology Laboratory Customer Story

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Alfresco Makes Collaboration Easy for EMBL, Europe’s Flagship Laboratory in Life Science Research

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is Europe’s flagship laboratory for the life sciences, supported by 22 member states and two associate member states. EMBL was created in 1974 and is an intergovernmental organization funded by public research money from its member states.

 

Challenge

As Europe’s flagship laboratory for the life sciences, EMBL includes over 85 independent, scientific groups that conduct research covering the spectrum of molecular biology.

Headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, EMBL is a non-profit, international organization with sites in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy. Its missions are to perform basic research in molecular biology, provide access to cutting-edge scientific services and technologies, operate state-of-the-art training programs for scientists, students and visitors, engage in technology development and transfer and play an active role in the integration of life science research in Europe.

EMBL needed to replace a previously existing system with a more agile and collaborative platform to manage and to share documents across different stakeholder communities within and outside of EMBL including researchers, external collaborators, business partners, governance bodies and EMBL management.

“We have multiple scientific groups collaborating with external parties often in projects at multi-national level, all carrying out research in very different fields and disciplines,” said Rupert Lueck, who leads EMBL’s IT Services. “We needed a system that would provide a collaborative platform for onsite teams, as well as multi-site teams including individuals not necessarily related to EMBL, but tied into research or other collaborative activities.”

 

Solution

After evaluating several solutions, EMBL chose Alfresco One as its collaboration and document management platform, making it easier to integrate all of its European-wide research departments and share results and information across the institute and beyond.

“Alfresco has evolved quite well,” said Lueck. “The platform is agile and enables the better management of teamwork, making it easier for outside users and affiliated bodies to access key documents.” 

EMBL’s IT team began by setting up a pilot system, working closely with various stakeholders and business groups to define their requirements. Once Alfresco had been implemented on a small scale, a heterogeneous mix of thousands of documents both small and large was migrated to the system. This exercise greatly benefitted from Alfresco’s performance and its flexibility in terms of architecture, document model and its rich API.

This gradual implementation allowed users to become naturally comfortable with Alfresco without the need for extensive training on the new system. Many EMBL users also take advantage of Alfresco’s mobile application, with everyone from scientists to key stakeholders accessing documents on their mobile devices.

“Very limited training and support documentation was necessary for the rollout,” said Lueck. “Users quickly became very happy with Alfresco.” 

 

Results

Since adopting Alfresco in 2011, the solution at EMBL has grown to over 3,000 users in hundreds of different collaborative groups using Alfresco for document management, archiving and collaboration.

Alfresco is integrated with EMBL’s own security infrastructure to ensure compliance with data security standards. This enables EMBL to share documents through Alfresco to internal and external parties using a unique, secure login ID. 

EMBL hopes to expand the Alfresco platform to also include workflow functionality within the next two years.

“Alfresco provides a flexible environment for teams to work together and easily integrates with our other systems,” concludes Lueck. “The richness of Alfresco’s features and functionality and its ability to adapt to specific requirements, needs and workflows is unmatched.” 

“Alfresco provides a flexible environment for teams to work together and easily integrates with our other systems. The richness of Alfresco’s features and functionality and its ability to adapt to specific requirements, needs and workflows is unmatched.”


— Rupert Lueck, Head of IT Services, European Molecular Biology Laboratory