Research News

New European birth cohort study 'Growing Up in Digital Europe' (GUIDE) achieves 2021 ESFRI Roadmap status

  • 02 July, 2021


Europe’s first cross-national birth cohort study, Growing Up in Digital Europe (GUIDE) has been included in the 2021 European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap – marking it among the highest quality and most valuable research infrastructures in Europe.


GUIDE is jointly coordinated by research teams at UCD in Ireland and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in the United Kingdom. The UCD team is led by Associate Professor Jennifer Symonds (UCD School of Education and UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy) and includes Associate Professor Orla Doyle (UCD School of Economics) and Assistant Professors Seaneen Sloan (UCD School of Education) and Laura Taylor (UCD School of Psychology). The MMU team is led by Professor Gary Pollock at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit.


GUIDE, and MARINERG-I (Offshore Renewable Energy Research Infrastructure) are the first ever Irish led research infrastructures to achieve ESFRI Roadmap status. The 2021 ESFRI Roadmap marks the highest ever investment in research infrastructures in Europe, with costs of €4.164 billion underpinning the 11 new projects on the Roadmap.


ESFRI is a self-regulated body, mandated in 2002 by the EU Council, which exists to create a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe. ESFRI supports the development of select pan-European research infrastructures of the highest quality through its Roadmap. The ESFRI Roadmap provides a high-level indicator of research excellence and direction that national roadmaps across Europe can refer to.


Growing Up in Digital Europe (GUIDE) 


GUIDE is a pan-European research infrastructure that will provide policy-makers with comparable cross-national information on the development of children’s wellbeing from birth to age 24-years. GUIDE has an accelerated birth cohort design following two age cohorts (infants and eight-year-olds) approximately every three years. The study has received political and/or institutional support from 20 countries who were part of the ESFRI application and plans to expand its consortium to new partner countries during the next four years.


GUIDE has already received EU funding to assess its feasibility (MYWEB), develop its research design and business plan (ECDP), and to initiate a ‘Starting Community’ (COORDINATE).


The GUIDE survey is scheduled to begin in the mid to late 2020s and will continue until the early 2050s. This landmark longitudinal study will produce harmonized data across partner countries, allowing for rigorous cross-national comparisons of environmental and social causal factors and child wellbeing outcomes thanks to GUIDE’s longitudinal design.


Lead investigators Jennifer Symonds and Gary Pollock are looking forward to working with ESFRI on the development of the project.


Associate Professor Symonds said: "Achieving ESFRI Roadmap status is a landmark accomplishment for child wellbeing research in Europe. Having GUIDE on the ESFRI Roadmap confirms the importance of longitudinal evidence on child wellbeing for informing policy-making across Europe."


Professor Pollock said: "I am delighted that GUIDE has been included on the ESFRI 2021 Roadmap. It is a ringing endorsement of the work of the many international partners we have worked with over the years. It is pleasing that the EU recognises the importance of comparative longitudinal surveys for policy making."