Upon investigating the EOSC Core costs, the e-infrastructure service providers were interviewed in order to understand their cost profiles. However, it was discovered that institutional accounting practices did not focus individually on service costs and we were unable to develop any confidence in the relevance of the data being collected. For this reason, simple project-based resourcing costs were collected and plotted in a matrix against the relevant (Tinman) Core services. When totalled these costs revealed a total cost (approximately €7M) that seems insufficient to adequately deliver a sustainable service, given the complexity of EOSC. On top of this we calculate that service pricing will be found to be in the region of an additional 25% to 50% on top of service costs.
Another finding related to the EOSC Core costs study was that the existing e-infrastructures offered a great advantage to EOSC, in that they not only simplify the relationship that EOSC will maintain with its service providers but that they also embody a great deal of knowledge important to EOSC. The existing e-infrastructures were re-branded as Service Aggregators. In this new role, it was clear that these entities also need to be examined in relation to their sustainability. The four main e-infrastructures were interviewed in order to understand their running costs (which would become a service delivery premium for EOSC.) Again, there was a lack of detailed understanding of the income needed to sustain their operations at a level required by EOSC. However, it was also noted that during these interviews competitive thinking and entrepreneurial behaviour was beginning to emerge. This was viewed as a positive indicator.
EOSC is not a technology and has a role that is strategic as well as operational. As such, it needs to build trust in its user communities and a way of achieving this goal is for EOSC to become independent of project funds. To do this it needs to migrate towards longer-term business-like income streams. A business viable model is required. The business modelling activity considered EOSC from an ecosystem perspective and investigated relationships and dependencies. Two models were identified as being suitable, the Learning Engine and the Transaction Engine, with a final conclusion being that a hybrid model would be initially required. Insights regarding how it might be possible to capitalise upon these engines are revealed in the recommendations.
EOSC is a federation of discipline-oriented research data infrastructures, with a superimposed service infrastructure connecting them, producing a seamless European research data infrastructure capable of enabling high quality cross-disciplinary and transnational research. EOSC-Core is a cost-centre and must be supported by income generated elsewhere. The MVE may be able to offer end-uses a “supporting and mentoring” role leading to the role of “cultural/technical/legal mediator and advisor”. These are commonly designed as part of the Learning Engine of a Platform strategy. These services can be put into the EOSC-Core but, if the policy guides to keep EOSC-Core the lightest possible, in any case they should be part of the MVE, with any income being able to (partially) support the Core. Funding bodies may also be attracted by the proposed monitoring and policy-maker support aspects of the MVE and may be prepared to pay for access to the data collected.