A new Earth system model, the Flexible Ocean and Climate Infrastructure (FOCI), is introduced. A first version of FOCI consists of a global high-top atmosphere (European Centre Hamburg general circulation model; ECHAM6.3) and an ocean model (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean v3.6; NEMO3.6) as well as sea-ice (Louvain-la-Neuve sea Ice Model version 2; LIM2) and land surface model components (Jena Scheme for Biosphere Atmosphere Coupling in Hamburg; JSBACH), which are coupled through the OASIS3-MCT software package. FOCI includes a number of optional modules which can be activated depending on the scientific question of interest. In the atmosphere, interactive stratospheric chemistry can be used (ECHAM6-HAMMOZ) to study, for example, the effects of the ozone hole on the climate system. In the ocean, a biogeochemistry model (Model of Oceanic Pelagic Stoichiometry; MOPS) is available to study the global carbon cycle. A unique feature of FOCI is the ability to explicitly resolve mesoscale ocean eddies in specific regions. This is realized in the ocean through nesting; first examples for the Agulhas Current and the Gulf Stream systems are described here. FOCI therefore bridges the gap between coarse-resolution climate models and global high-resolution weather prediction and ocean-only models. It allows to study the evolution of the climate system on regional and seasonal to (multi)decadal scales. The development of FOCI resulted from a combination of the long-standing expertise in ocean and climate modeling in several research units and divisions at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR). FOCI will thus be used to complement and interpret long-term observations in the Atlantic, enhance the process understanding of the role of mesoscale oceanic eddies for large-scale oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns, study feedback mechanisms with stratospheric processes, estimate future ocean acidification, and improve the simulation of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation changes and their influence on climate, ocean chemistry and biology. In this paper, we present both the scientific vision for the development of FOCI as well as some technical details. This includes a first validation of the different model components using several configurations of FOCI. Results show that the model in its basic configuration runs stably under pre-industrial control as well as under historical forcing and produces a mean climate and variability which compares well with observations, reanalysis products and other climate models. The nested configurations reduce some long-standing biases in climate models and are an important step forward to include the atmospheric response in multidecadal eddy-rich configurations.