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future. So you have to bear in mind that, when

we’re doing the flagship, it’s really under this

new view of the way research should be and

what it should do.”

The FET Flagships sit under Horizon 2020’s

Excellent Science pillar, which includes funding

for basic research, as the deputy head

explained: “We do research for research

because, as everyone knows, the real

breakthroughs come from somewhere totally

unexpected. We don’t know what will have

turned up in 20 years’ time after the next five

years of the European Research Council’s blue

sky research.”

Graphene

Research into this nanomaterial had been

supported by the Commission for several years

prior to the Graphene Flagship. Since 2005, the

EU institution has supported nearly 300

research projects in the area of graphene and

2D materials, leading to almost €400m of

investment. The UK has been the main

beneficiary in terms of both funding and the

number of projects receiving money.

In terms of sectors, Houghton said that the

majority of project participants are universities

and research institutes, though recognised that

the number of businesses involved “is

growing”. He added that there is “a different

emphasis in certain EU member states than

others”, drawing attention to Finland and

Austria where “quite a lot” of participants “are

actually industrial” compared to France, where

“it turns out that most of the participation is

research organisations and universities, which

leads us to the question of who’s going to win

in the exploitation and getting over the ‘valley

of death’?”.

Houghton concluded this section of his

presentation by commenting: “We certainly do

not have a single market in terms of taking

E

urope is leading international investment in graphene through its

FET Flagships. Announced in 2013 as a winner of the FET

competition, the Graphene Flagship will investigate and exploit

the unique properties of this revolutionary carbon-based material.

Under Horizon 2020, the €1bn, decade-long research investigation is

receiving half of its funding from the European Commission, whilst the

remaining funding is being sourced through partnering projects at

regional, national or transnational level in Europe. The FET Flagship is

currently in its 30-month ‘ramp-up phase’ and is still receiving funding

allocated under the Seventh Framework Programme. This phase will end

in March next year, giving way to the ‘steady state phase’ under Horizon

2020, and an anticipated €50m of funding from the Commission will be

received by the project annually.

In April, Portal travelled to Manchester, UK, the home of graphene, to

attend ‘The Commercial Graphene Show – Europe’ 2015. Speaking to

delegates was Andrew Houghton, deputy head of the Flagships Unit in

the Commission’s DG CONNECT. In his address, he said that whilst the

EU institution had previously been backing “research for research”,

Horizon 2020 has helped to give way to a new era of European research.

“In view of the economic issues in Europe,” Houghton said, “it’s really a

refocus on getting results out of the

research.We

need to really see that

the research is leading through to new products, new processes, new

business and economic activity to try to make sure Europe does have a

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

26

S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : M AT E R I A L S

An international investment

Portal

carries the thoughts of the European Commission’s Flagships Unit

deputy head,

Andrew Houghton,

who set out the FET Graphene project and

the contributions of the European Commission

According to the

European Commission,

the FET Flagships

‘pursue grand

interdisciplinary

scientific and

technological

challenges’