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New Commission research facility will contribute to reliable measurements and testing throughout Europe


Better healthcare, safer food and environmental protection are just some of the ways in which accurate measurements enhance our quality of life. On 23 November, a new scientific facility to develop measurement standards in challenging areas such as life sciences will be inaugurated at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Geel, Belgium.

The European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said: "From buying food in the supermarket to undergoing clinical tests, European citizens depend on measurements and testing to be as accurate and harmonised as possible. This is particularly important for emerging technologies, such as genetic testing and nanotechnology. This new facility will enable the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) to remain at the forefront of measurement science, by developing internationally recognised measurement standards that are used as benchmarks in analytical laboratories across Europe and worldwide."

The new facility will be used to develop and produce reference materials, which possess a precisely-known property and are the basis for complex measurements, such as the amount of genetically modified maize or the number of bacteria in a food sample. The total cost of the facility was 11 M€ - of which 4.5 M€ was funded from revenue from JRC's reference material activities.

The reference materials developed and produced at JRC's Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) provide laboratories around the world with a benchmark to deliver accurate, harmonised and traceable result and help implement legislation through accurate and reliable testing, also in emerging areas such as molecular biosciences and personalised medicine. The building features a large and flexible production hall which brings together processing and measurement equipment in an innovative manner. It will provide Europe with a unique facility for the development and production of reference materials, bridging the gap between laboratory and industrial scale. The new building also houses laboratories for the analysis of heavy metals and proteins and a special laboratory for the safe handling of biomaterials.

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Source: European Commission