Call for marine biodiversity (monitoring) data (CLOSED)

The ocean and its biodiversity are essential to life on this planet. Comprehensive data on biodiversity, and related human and environmental pressures are crucial to understand its current state and how this may change. Protecting and restoring biodiversity is one of three objectives of the Horizon Europe Mission to restore our oceans and waters by 2030, enabling the EU to reach its Green Deal and Biodiversity 2030 targets. Identified as one of the Mission "enablers", the EU will build on “a digital knowledge system” to include a  Digital Twin of the Ocean (DTO) allowing simulation of ‘what if’ scenarios, advancing ocean knowledge, informing evidence-based policy and offering a range of societal applications.

The DTO-BioFlow project

To effectively replicate the ocean’s ecology, the DTO requires sustained flows of data on biodiversity and associated pressures. While biodiversity data are being collected by myriad actors, using a wide variety of methods (including novel cost-effective monitoring technologies), not all these data become publicly available in a standardized format. DTO-BioFlow will activate these "sleeping" marine biodiversity data and enable the sustainable integration of data flows from various sources to EMODnet and into the EDITO infrastructure serving the EU DTO.

Combining sustained data flows, models and new algorithms, DTO-BioFlow will develop and integrate the biological component of the DTO, including new digital tools and services. Policy-relevant use cases, will demonstrate the benefit for marine ecosystems of continuous data streams flowing through EMODnet and usable by the EU DTO infrastructures and ultimate end-users. For more information on the DTO-BioFlow project, click here.

Call for marine biodiversity data holders

The Open Call for maritime biodiversity data holders to contribute to the DTO-BioFlow project by building ingestion pipelines to the EU DTO and thereby enhancing the flow of relevant biodiversity data is now closed. Selected applicants are currently prepared to convene at the Flanders Marine Institute's (VLIZ) InnovOcean Campus in Ostend, Belgium, for a data training session from April 22nd to 24th. 

Meet the Awardees

Who can apply

Eligible beneficiaries for this call are data holders (international networks, citizen science networks, research institutes, universities, NGOs, etc.) who can facilitate sustained and long-term ingestion to the EU DTO of previously inaccessible data. Entities subject to EU restrictive measures under Article 29 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) and Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) are not eligible to participate as recipients of this FSTP. Please note that beneficiaries or affiliated partners of the DTO-BioFlow project cannot receive funding through this call.

Applicants should have a good command of English, must be eligible for participation in the EC Horizon Europe Framework Programme (see list of participating countries) and must ensure to follow the following obligations of the Grant Agreement: Articles 12 (conflict of interest), 13 (confidentiality and security), 14 (ethics), 17.2 (visibility), 18 (specific rules for carrying out action), 19 (information) and 20 (recordkeeping). The DTO-BioFlow project coordinator will also ensure that the bodies mentioned in Article 25 (e.g. granting authority, OLAF, Court of Auditors (ECA), etc.) can exercise their rights also towards the recipients.

Applicants need to have the rights and permissions to work with the data, and bring these into the public domain under an open license.

The selected beneficiaries commit to carry out the following activities:

  • Participate in the workshop which will provide training on how to reformat and quality control data conform international standards (see further) and make these available to EMODnet Biology, held in April 2024 in Paris or Ostend in week 15 or 17. In person attendance of at least one representative per selected beneficiary is required. It will also be possible to attend the training workshop online, in case multiple people per beneficiary want to attend the workshop but cannot all attend in person.
  • Contribute to the flow of marine biodiversity data into the DTO, through developing data flow pipelines to EMODnet Biology. Setting up a data flow through intermediate data systems that already have or will in the near future have a direct data flow pipeline to EMODnet Biology (e.g. ICES, ETN) is also eligible.
  • Ensure the data is formatted, standardized, and quality-controlled conforming to the relevant international standards (as demonstrated in the workshop) (e.g. using the Darwin Core standard for biodiversity data, OBIS-ENV-DATA as the preferred format, World Register of Marine Species, Marine Regions and BODC NERC Vocabulary Server (NVS) to standardize taxonomic names, location names and parameter names respectively, EMODnet Biology QC Check tool to perform quality checks).
  • Ensure the data complies to Open Access, preferably under a Creative Commons CC-BY license. If applicants plan to use any other license, this needs to be detailed in their application.
  • Ensure that metadata and data will become available through EMODnet Biology. 
  • Provide short intermediary reports on their progress every four months, and a final report on the results at the end of the 12-month project. 

Funding & eligibility

The maximum amount of financial support for each third party is 60.000 EUR.

Half of the funding (50%) will be granted at the start of the project, the other half (50%) will be granted at the end of the project, which corresponds to a successful realization of the proposed activities.

List of costs that qualify for financial support:

  • Personnel costs to execute the following types of activities:
    • Development of pipelines for data processing, reformatting, standardisation, transfer and publication
    • Development of data access API’s (Application Programming Interface)
    • Data quality control
    • Data documentation and management (in accordance with FAIR principles)
  • Travel costs to attend the data training workshop in April 2024, held in Paris (France) or Ostend (Belgium). At least one person and at most 2 persons per selected beneficiary should attend the workshop in person. 

To be eligible to receive this grant, applications need to meet the following criteria:

  • The data conform to the requirements of the project:
    • data is not readily available in the public domain, or is not in a standardized format. Updating existing datasets such as time series by enriching them with previously unavailable data (e.g. more recent data) is eligible.
    • data is marine biodiversity data: taxon occurrences, preferably linked to (a)biotic measurements retrieved at the same time and location. New biological data types from methods or sensors capable of species detection are eligible.
    • data are, for a substantial part, collected in European marine waters.
    • data can be published under an open license (preferably CC-BY).
  • The data are helping the project to reach its overall goals:
    • filling important identified gaps in the biodiversity data coverage (e.g. poorly covered taxonomic groups, data poor regions, new data types)
    • facilitating a sustained and long-term ingestion and established data flow
    • mobilizing marine biodiversity (monitoring) data and data series
  • The applicant is not a beneficiary or affiliated party to the DTO-BioFlow grant agreement.
  • Good quality plan of action.
  • Successful realisation of proposed activities.


Application process

  • Call launch: October 31st 2023
  • Deadline for applications: January 17th 2024 at 17.00 CET
  • Single stage submission
  • Applicants should submit their application through the Open Call webform on the DTO-BioFlow website. If you do not already have an account on the DTO-Bioflow website, you will need to create one first to access the Open Call webform. 

The Open Call for Marine Biodiversity Data Holders has officially closed, and the beneficiary projects have been selected.
Meet the awardees!



  • January 18th – February 8th 2024: Evaluation and selection
  • February 12th 2024: Evaluation completed & beneficiaries informed
  • From March 1st 2024 to February 28th 2025 (12 months): Project implementation
  • April 2024, week 15 or week 17: Mandatory attendance of the planned workshop
  • June 30th 2024, October 31st 2024: Intermediary reports deadlines
  • February 28th 2025: Final report deadline
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Assessment process

The assessment panel will rate all eligible proposals, taking into account the following criteria:

  • Relevance: The proposal conforms to the requirements, goals and scope of the DTO-BioFlow project.
  • Impact: What will be the estimated impact? Size/number, frequency, continuance, and range (temporal/geographic/taxonomic) of proposed dataset(s) will be considered, in combination with how much the proposed data contribute to filling gaps in the current biodiversity data landscape (gaps could be taxonomical, geographical, methodological, etc.).
  • Sustained data flow & automation: the data flows set up within the project are designed to continue beyond the duration of the project, are as much as possible automated and the applicants are willing to commit to a long-term data flow, beyond the duration of their grant and the DTO-BioFlow project duration.
  • Uniqueness: the proposal does not overlap with existing data pipelines and networks.
  • Excellence/proposal quality: the proposed actions are realistic, feasible, well-defined and in balance with the requested financial support.

An initial ranking will be constructed based on this evaluation. Additional factors might impact the final list of third parties receiving funding, such as the amount of requested budget, similarity to a higher ranked proposal, ethical concerns and potential conflicts of interest. 


Personal data will be collected, processed and published in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/679, also known as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) as detailed in the DTO-Bioflow privacy policy


For any other questions please contact opencalls[at]