The Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI) was one of the first projects entering the European Research Infrastructure preparatory phase of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap, a strategic instrument that aims at overcoming the limits due to fragmentation of individual policies and that provides Europe with the most up-to-date research infrastructures funded by the European Commission (EC).
Currently, three network biobank initiatives coexist in Belgium i.e. Belgian Virtual Tumourbank project assigned to the Belgian Cancer Registry (BVT-BCR; Federal Initiative), Biothèque de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (BWB; Brussels and Walloon Initiative), and Center for Medical Innovation (CMI; Flemish Initiative) involving 11, 6 and 9 public institutions, respectively. While the BVT-BCR collects data of tumour biospecimens, the BWB and CMI are not restricted to oncological samples. The BVT-BCR Initiative is, since January 2012, the only operational biobank network initiative in Belgium. The regional institutes are in full development.
BBMRI.be was set up in order to support the ever-increasing need of research with regard to quality control, access, transparency and interconnectedness of biobanks.
The administrative and scientific participation of Belgium in the pan-European Research Infrastructure BBMRI is exerted by a National Node BBMRI.be. The advisory board of BBMRI.be includes administrative representatives from the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO; Federal Government), Department of Research and Technologies (DG06; Walloon government), and the Department of Economy, Sciences and Innovation (EWI; Flemish government) and scientific partners from the three Belgian network biobank initiatives. The strategic core of BBMRI.be was developed under the name Belgian Biobank Consensus Platform (BBCP) involving representatives from the three Belgian network biobank initiatives.
The Belgian involvement in the pan-European biobanking project BBMRI is guaranteed thanks to the annual membership contribution, on Mr. Philippe Courard’s initiative, by BELSPO and the appointment of the Belgian National Node Coordinator Prof. Vincent Grégoire on July 18, 2013 by Ms. Laurette Onkelinx, Belgian Minister for Social affairs and Public Health. In addition, funding allocated to the BCR by Ms. Laurette Onkelinx to develop the Belgian node IT platform will make it possible to establish the essential connection with BBMRI.eu.