For over 10 years, the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI; European Malaria Vaccine Initiative until 2009) has contributed to the development of 24 malaria candidate vaccine antigens with 13 vaccine candidates being advanced into Phase I clinical trials, two of which have been transitioned for further clinical development in sub-Saharan Africa. Since its inception the EVI organization has operated as a funding agency, but with a clear service-oriented strategy. The scientific successes and difficulties encountered during these years and how these efforts have led to standardization and harmonization in vaccine development through large-scale European consortia are discussed. In the future, the EVI will remain instrumental in the pharmaceutical and clinical development of vaccines against ‘diseases of poverty’ with a continued focus on malaria. EVI will continue to focus on funding and managing preclinical evaluation up to Phase I/II clinical trials and strengthening the vaccine-development infrastructure in Europe, albeit with a global orientation.