nnovative scientific research has a crucial role in addressing global challenges - ranging from health care and climate change to renewable energy and natural resources management. The speed and depth of this research depends on fostering collaborative exchanges between different communities and assuring its widest dissemination. The exchange of ideas, knowledge and data emerging from this research is fundamental for human progress.
The rapid development in computing technology and the Internet have opened up new applications for the basic sources of research – the base material of research data – which has given a major impetus to scientific work in recent years. Databases are rapidly becoming an essential part of the infrastructure of the global science system. The international Human Genome Project is but one good example of a large-scale endeavour in which openly accessible information is being used successfully by many different users, all over the world, for a great variety of purposes.