This programme aims to build and deploy Virtual Research Environments (VREs) by extending currently available tools and frameworks, such as Sakai and OGCE, or by developing new ones to meet the needs of the UK research community.

Virtual Research Environments programme (Phase 1)

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 See Phase 3 of the Virtual Research Environments programme

Programme Phase 1

VideoDownload two videos that give a rundown of 8 of the 15 projects from phase 1 of the VRE programme. You may copy or display all or part of these videos for educational or research purposes only. If you wish to use it for any other purpose, please contact 

The aim of the programme is to engage the research community in:

  • building and deploying Virtual Research Environments (VREs) based on currently available tools and frameworks
  • assessing their benefits and shortcomings in supporting the research process
  • improving and extending them to meet the future needs of UK research
  • developing or integrating new tools and frameworks where appropriate solutions do not yet exist

The programme seeks to involve all sectors of the research community and recognises the need to support research activities within and across disciplinary boundaries.

Virtual Research Environment definition

VRE helps researchers in all disciplines manage the increasingly complex range of tasks involved in carrying out research

The purpose of a VRE is to help researchers in all disciplines manage the increasingly complex range of tasks involved in carrying out research. A VRE will provide a framework of resources to support the underlying processes of research on both small and large scales, particularly for those disciplines which are not well catered for by the current infrastructure.

VREs will add value to the research process across all disciplines by complementing and inter-working with existing resources and by being flexible and adaptable to changing requirements. The approach being taken is based on an architecture which is extensible and supports, but does not restrict, the resources needed by individual research teams.

The concept of a VRE is evolving, and the intention of this programme is not to produce a complete VRE, but rather to define and help to develop the common framework and its associated standards and to encourage others to work within this framework to develop and populate VREs with applications, services and resources appropriate to their needs.

This programme is associated with the e-Framework Initiative and the Support for e-Research programme.

Start date
1 April 2004
End date
31 March 2007
Working Groups
Strategic Themes