EU research now counts with a new JRC scientific facility for measurement and testing

A new scientific facility to develop measurement standards in challenging areas such as life sciences was inaugurated on 23 November at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Geel (Belgium). These research facilities will enable the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) to remain at the forefront of measurement science, by developing internationally-recognised measurement standards.

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.

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 amounted to 11 million Euro, of which 4.5 million Euro was funded from revenue from JRC's reference material activities.

These reference materials developed and produced at European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) 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. This new facility is part of EU's support for research the field of reference materials and measurement, which is part of the new strategy for its JRC.

The JRC's Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) is one of the leading developers and producers of reference materials in the world, particularly in the clinical, food and GMO application areas. It currently provides over 670 reference materials, and distributes around 20,000 units per year.

There are countless examples in which accurate measurements are crucial, such as hospital blood tests, measuring the size of nanoparticles or checking shipments of foodstuffs for the presence of genetically modified organisms, and they all have a direct impact on the citizens' every day life.