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believe more and more, as we go through the evolution cycle of the

story, that industry will play a bigger and bigger part naturally.

“We also want to establish Europe as a global leader in this domain. We

have Manchester as the world centre, we have the Nobel Prize in Europe

… we have, we believe, by having the flagship, created a critical mass

of focus for work in Europe. By having this critical mass, we do believe

we will help the commercialisation of the whole story.”

Graphene Flagship

Like the Human Brain Project, the Graphene Flagship began its work in

2013. Houghton said the Commission is keen to fully exploit the potential

of this FET Flagship, with multiple benefits across different sectors.

“We really want to boost the European scientific excellence on this,” he

said, adding that they are aware of its potential commercial importance

for Europe and see it “leading ultimately, hopefully, to more jobs, more

innovation and more growth in a large number of potential industry

sectors that you probably know better than me”. Indeed, he went on,

“there are most likely industry sectors I haven’t thought of yet” that will

consider graphene an important future material.

“We have all the different potential areas, and the flagship itself has 11

work packages looking at the different levels and the different

application areas.”

The deputy head then drew attention to the significant number of

partners involved in the project: “This is a large collaborative research

initiative. Now we have 142 partners in the flagship, I think there is a

limit to this; I don’t know how much further we can go in keeping a

project manageable. This is indeed one of the issues … if you start

having 142 partners, even if you have €50m a year funding … each

partner only gets enough to support one or two postdocs.”

research out of the lab and into the factory in

Europe yet.” He added that the “future is not

just graphene; it will be graphene in

combination with other 2D materials”.

FET Flagships

The deputy head commented that it is possible

to use modelling to help “predict” what

combinations have the potential to work and

thus be more useful. Houghton remarked that

the FET scheme has traditionally “supported lots

of small projects”, but it was realised around

2008 that “there are quite a lot of problems in

the world”, notably those of a technical, scientific

and commercial calibre, which cannot be

assessed “with a sceptical approach”.

Houghton said this led to the Commission

realising that “there’s a need for doing big

projects”, big not only in regard to the number

of partners involved and the financing but also

with regard to duration because “a lot of things

take a long time to do. Different parts of the

graphene story will go at different rates.

“But we in the Commission thought we ought

to try and have a programme that goes for at

least ten years, and that isn’t something we’ve

normally ever done before, so we’ve had to find

ways of doing that.”

Houghton went on to detail the flagships:

“They’re science driven because they come out

of FET; they’re trying to bring new ideas to

critical mass, they’re large scale, they’re

addressing a big challenge.

“It’s clear ... there’s got to be many, many

disciplines involved in both the research and

the development and the commercialisation of

graphene – chemistry to materials science to

electronics – and now we have to bring in all

the aspects of the standardisation and the

issues of safety … in order to go from the lab

to the fab.

“We had a clear mission that graphene is the

future … we believe at least a ten-year

roadmap [is necessary]. The funding that’s

going to go into the flagship over that time is

of the order of a hundred million a year, of

which half comes from the Commission

funding, and we are looking for matching

funding from member state national

programmes and also from industry. We

www.horizon2020projects.com

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

I S S U E S E V E N

27

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

The FET Flagship will

move to its ‘steady

state phase’ next year

after a 30-month

‘ramp-up phase’