28th January 2013
Graphene and Human Brain Project win largest research award in history
The European Commission today announced the winners of a multi-billion euro competition of Future and Emerging Technologies (FET). The winning Graphene and Human Brain initiatives are set to receive one billion euros each, to deliver 10 years of world-beating science. Each initiative involves researchers from at least 15 EU Member States and nearly 200 research institutes.
The "Graphene" project will investigate and exploit the unique properties of this revolutionary carbon-based material. Graphene has an extraordinary combination of physical and chemical properties: it is the thinnest material, it conducts electricity much better than copper, it is 100-300 times stronger than steel and has unique optical properties. The use of graphene was made possible by European scientists in 2004, and the substance is set to become the wonder material of the 21st century, as plastics were to the 20th century. This includes replacing silicon in microchips, revolutionising the fields of energy and transportation, transforming health and medicine and a host of other areas.
The "Human Brain Project" will create the world's largest experimental facility for developing the most detailed ever model of the brain, for studying how the human brain works and ultimately to develop personalised treatments of neurological and related diseases. This research lays the foundations for medical progress with potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of people.
The European Commission will support "Graphene" and the "Human Brain Project" as FET flagships over 10 years through its research and innovation funding programmes. Sustained funding for the full duration of the project will come from the EU's research framework programmes, principally from the Horizon 2020 programme (2014-2020) which is currently negotiated in the European Parliament and Council.
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "Europe's position as a knowledge superpower depends on thinking the unthinkable and exploiting the best ideas. This multi-billion competition rewards home-grown scientific breakthroughs and shows that when we are ambitious we can develop the best research in Europe. To keep Europe competitive, to keep Europe as the home of scientific excellence, EU governments must agree an ambitious budget for the Horizon 2020 programme in the coming weeks."
"Graphene" is led by Prof. Jari Kinaret, from Sweden's Chalmers University. The Flagship involves over 100 research groups, with 136 principal investigators, including four Nobel laureates. "The Human Brain Project" involves scientists from 87 institutions and is led by Prof. Henry Markram of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
The future of computing and science will be driven by collaboration. The FET flagships programme is a world-leading effort to ride this wave. The flagship race has fostered collaboration on a new scale and duration. Instead of the usual two-to-four year funding cycles, the 10 year duration and massive financial incentive has driven the level of science in the project proposals to a much higher level, which will deliver greater benefits over the long-term, including major new technologies and faster innovation.