The two Future and Emerging Technologies Flagships of Horizon 2020, The Human Brain Project and Graphene, have recently received additional funding from the European Commission for the next 2 years of their 10-year journey which started in 2013.

The two Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagships have successfully completed their initial ramp-up phase, funded with 54 Million euros, which lasted from October 2013 to March 2016. As announced in an earlier blogpost, the second phase started on April 2016 and will take them half way into their journey, to 2018.

This key milestone was an opportunity for the European Commission to launch an in-depth review to assess the achievements of the two Flagships so far, validate their continued relevance and make recommendations for their next phase. The review panels were made up of 15 to 18 high-level independent experts selected for their recognised knowledge and scientific expertise in the scientific fields of the two Flagships who worked intensively over a period of two months.

The reviewers found that the Human Brain Project (HBP) has successfully overcome its initial difficulties. It is delivering a first set of promising results in neuroscience, and is developing a unique digital neuroscience facility in Europe. The Flagship's research roadmap towards this main objective was refined and a new governance structure was successfully established. With these changes, the reviewers found that the Flagship was getting back on track. The first HBP phase culminated in the release of the first version of its six ICT Platforms on Neuroinformatics, Brain Simulation, High Performance Computing, Medical Informatics, Neuromorphic Computing and Neuro-robotics. This release underpins the main aim of HBP, in its implementation phase, to build and demonstrate an integrated and federated research infrastructure for neuroscience, brain medicine and future computing. These platforms are a good starting point for the targeted research infrastructure and have the potential to support a paradigm shift in neuroscience research. In view of these findings, the European Commission signed in August the contract for funding the next phase of HBP. Have a look at the main outcomes of the HBP review & achievements (PDF), and the highlights of the ramp-up phase.

The Graphene Flagship has achieved many significant results in areas such as optoelectronics, photovoltaics and nanocomposites showing the remarkable versatility of this material, which can also be used in new fields, such as biomedical applications. The review confirmed that the Flagship managed to engage with industry by attracting them as partners or associated members, and demonstrated a first concrete set of technological opportunities offered in this area through the many patent applications (47), prototypes (36), and industry/academia collaborations (165). The Flagship has started research on silicon wafer-scale integration, which will be essential for low cost and mass production of electronics applications. This will be a deciding factor for a range of very promising Graphene applications. During the current phase, it was important for the Flagship researchers to explore a wide set of technological opportunities not to miss out on any area which could bring breakthroughs relevant for Europe's industry. Now, the Flagship has to face the challenge of narrowing down its focus to the most promising industrial and application areas. The European Commission welcomes the work starting on Graphene's Technology and Innovation roadmap, which will support this choice, complementing the earlier Graphene Science and Technology Roadmap. Have a look at the main outcomes of the Graphene review and achievements (PDF), and the highlights of the ramp-up phase.

Both Flagships are starting to actively collaborate with relevant projects across Europe, including a set of transnational projects funded by the Member States funding agencies involved in the FLAG-ERA ERANET project. They also achieved high visibility on a global scale, making them natural candidates for cooperation with other similar research initiatives in the world. For example, an agreement was recently put in place between the European Commission and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to support short international visits of EU/US researchers in the context of the Graphene Flagship. They also play a major role in educating a new generation of dozens of young researchers in most advanced scientific domains and technologies.

Both Flagships are now ready and well-prepared to begin their next phase. The European Commission will invest €89 million in each of the two Flagships over the next two years, which will take them to the mid-term of their challenging journey.


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