The Graphene Flagship has from its very inception attracted
attention. Not only from those directly concerned with the research topics, but
also from industry, political decision makers and the media. Initially, such
attention was generated by the image of an extremely thin material with
exceptional properties, and the technologies that may come to depend on it.
Although maybe less visible to the research community, the flagship has more
recently attracted a different kind of interest.
The flagship is demonstrating a new model for setting priorities
and collaborating at national and European levels. By bringing together
European, national and regional funding programmes, the flagship allows for a
more coordinated way of strengthening the interplay between research funding.
It shows how to bring together academic expertise, industrial needs and the
flexibility and speed of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). By setting
and realising a research agenda in an integrative manner, the flagship sets an
example with a novel way of working.
The flagship will further advance the research agenda, with the
key objective of delivering on innovation. In order to do this, it is essential
for flagship partners to carry out a careful exploration of possible
applications, and, when the time is right, take the decisive step of focusing
on those applications where Europe can make the difference. This involves proactively
reaching out to industrial sectors and players where graphene technologies can
bring a competitive advantage when compared with existing technologies, and
creating innovation opportunities by closely working with the key actors in
those areas. It also involves creating and managing intellectual property,
know-how and fostering entrepreneurial spirit. In this context, we welcome the
appointment of Kari Hjelt, and wish him well as the flagship's new head of
Being part of the core project also comes with a new level of
responsibility. The flagship does not stop with the core project, and each
partner should be active in ensur
that the expertise built up in Europe has a wider impact going beyond the
consortium within the core project. The opportunities created must be captured
at national and regional level, and lead, for example, to collaborations with
research groups, SMEs and industry beyond the core project. Because of this, it
is important to monitor the black spots on the overall research roadmap, as
well as sectors in which an awareness of graphene and related materials is
lacking, and stimulate national and regional actions that complement current
activities. And, last but not least, it entails accepting that difficult choices
must be sometimes made when particular applications or technical areas turn out
not to be industrially viable.
The results achieved so far by the flagship are impressive. In
terms of publications, academia-industry collaborations, and patent
applications, and also in specific technical domains, many excellent results
have been achieved. I would like to praise you for this. We are confident that,
if this quality is maintained, the envisaged impact of graphene and related
materials will follow, and this field will become a key strength of Europe.