ICEDIG – “Innovation and Consolidation for Large Scale Digitisation of Natural Heritage” - is an EU-funded project that aims at supporting the implementation phase of the new Research Infrastructure DiSSCo (“Distributed System of Scientific Collections”) by designing and addressing the technical, financial, policy and governance aspects necessary to operate such a large distributed initiative for natural sciences collections across Europe.


Devising the structural pillars of DiSSCo by setting up the necessary technological, socio-cultural, and organisational features to enable the operation of a unified access point to bio and geo-diversity data. ICEDIG will pave the path to mass digitisation of European natural science collections and the subsequent access to all related data in a harmonised and integrated manner across Europe.


  • Determine the technological and logistical basis for extracting images and other relevant data from tens of millions of physical objects annually, across Europe
  • Determine how to make this information discoverable through efficiently capturing the essential metadata of the object
  • Create plans for storing that huge information pool efficiently in national and European open science infrastructures
  • Involve researchers, citizen scientists, industry, and the society at large in this enormous effort
  • Summarize the above knowledge in business and engineering plans for the development of the new Research Infrastructure that is DiSSCo

Supporting the new Research Infrastructure 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 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. In support of DiSSCo, ICEDIG will devise the necessary plans and capacity enhancements to make the future Research Infrastructure for natural sciences collections operational.