Standards for data exchange are critical to the development of any field. They enable researchers and practitioners to transport information reliably, to apply a variety of tools to their problems, and to reproduce scientific results. Over the past two decades, a range of standards have been developed to facilitate the exchange and reuse of information in the domain of representation and modeling of biological systems. These standards are complementary, so the interactions between their developers increased over time. By the end of the last decade, the community of researchers decided that more interoperability is required between the standards, and that common development is needed to make better use of effort, time, and money devoted to this activity. The COmputational MOdeling in Biology NEtwork (COMBINE) was created to enable the sharing of resources, tools, and other infrastructure. This paper provides a brief history of this endeavor and the challenges that remain.