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Europe’s Leading Public-Private Partnership for Cloud

The Helix Nebula Initiative is a partnership between industry, space and science to establish a dynamic ecosystem, benefiting from open cloud services for the seamless integration of science into a business environment. Today, the partnership counts over 40 public and private partners.

Use Cases

During a two-year pilot phase, Helix Nebula will be deployed and tested based on four flagship projects proposed by CERN, EMBL, ESA and PIC: to accelerate the search for the elusive Higgs particle, to boost large-scale genomic analyses in biomedical research, to support research into natural disasters and to improve the speed and quality of research for finding surrogate biomarkers based on brain images.

The four flagship use cases will be used to enable a cost-benefit analysis to be undertaken and the next stage of the Science Cloud Strategic Plan developed and approved.

These flagship use cases have been proposed by the demand‐side and chosen for their scientific challenge with societal impact, ability to profit from existing services on the supply‐side, community building aspects and innovation potential that will help form the Public/Private Partnership.

All four flagship use‐cases share a common theme of multiinstitutional collaboration, which will be a major factor in the speed of uptake of cloud‐based computing. CERN estimates that cloud services for the LHC community could impact as many as 10,000 physicists. EMBL recognises that cloud infrastructure could enhance the relevance of genomics to the broader medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural communities. Each flagship has been selected for the unique challenges and opportunities it presents.

“CERN’s computing capacity needs to keep-up with the enormous amount of data coming from the Large Hadron Collider and we see Helix Nebula- the Science Cloud as a great way of working with industry to meet this challenge,” says Frédéric Hemmer, head of CERN’s IT department.

Next Generation DNA Sequencing technologies have had a huge impact on how biological and medical research are performed today. It has helped large-scale sequencing to become affordable and revolutionized the sequencing of complete genomes. Scientists today easily generate huge amounts of quality sequence data within a few days.

The European Space Agency (ESA), in partnership with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in France and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is collaborating with the National Research Council (CNR) in Italy, to create an Earth observation platform focusing on earthquake and volcano research.

Medical research in neurodegenerative diseases, both academic and industrial (pharmaceutical), greatly benefits from the results of MRI and PET data processing.


Helix Nebula is a new, pioneering partnership between leading IT providers and four of Europe’s biggest research centres, CERN, EMBL, ESA and PIC, charting a course towards sustainable cloud services for the research communities - the Science Cloud.