Systems biology research requires high-end technologies, multidisciplinary expertise and equipment that is at best only partially available in a single institute or university. National and European programmes are being developed to support access for both academia and industry to the complete spectrum of high-end technologies that are essential for state-of-the-art research.

Successful systems biology research requires an integrated approach in which the following elements must be precisely attuned (i) planning of the experiments (experimental design), (ii) data acquisition using different technologies, (iii) data handling and analyses and (iv) integration of diverse data sets in quantitative and predictive models.

The aim of ISBE is to provide individual researchers, research consortia and industry with easy access to national and European ISBE centres that provide integrated expertise and technologies. Where appropriate, ISBE will integrate its efforts with other international infrastructural programmes to maximize on existing resources.

The ISBE Infrastructure will provide interconnected centres of technological excellence in systems biology. This will make available, via a single entity (the ISBE), the best European research expertise – together with the experimental and modelling facilities necessary for systems biology. ISBE will also establish and support repositories of data and models.

It is currently envisaged that there will be a range of centres specialising in particular experimental and/or computational and modelling expertise. These will combine in a variety of operational clusters to create the core of the infrastructure. These centres will contribute to the ISBE, not just through facilities and expertise, but also through specific projects and the training of researchers. They will also act as foci for stimulating further technology development.

The ISBE will provide a single point of entry into pan-European activities and easily accessible facilities in systems biology for the European scientist. It will also be an important vehicle for stimulating contacts with non-EU consortia from academia, industry and regulatory agencies across the world.