Graphene Flagship looks ahead to life under Horizon 2020
The Graphene Flagship, an academic-industrial consortium focused on taking graphene and related two-dimensional materials from laboratory to factory floor and beyond, recently celebrated the first two years of its 10-year project lifetime. The 2015 General Assembly provided the final opportunity for flagship partners to meet face to face during the ramp-up phase under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme, and plan ahead for the steady-state period under Horizon 2020.
Delegates to the General Assembly in Berlin on 12 and 13 October took in reports from the executive, the European Commission and others, and, during the director's report, the accession of three new Associated Members was announced. The addition to the flagship community of Robert Bosch GmbH, Talga Resources Ltd and The LEGO Group brings the number of associates to 13.
"The meetings during the General Assembly in Berlin showcased an impressive range of results from the work packages," says Graphene Flagship director Jari Kinaret. "They also gave us an opportunity to jointly discuss several cross-cutting issues such as ethics, innovation and the technology and innovation roadmap we are preparing. The many informal meetings are also an important feedback mechanism to help us further develop our routines and plans."
Andrea Ferrari, chairman of the Executive Board, speaks of flagship achievements during the first two years: "The second general assembly of the Graphene Flagship in Berlin highlighted progress made by the various work packages. It is clear that, two years on, the flagship is progressing steadily toward its goals, with all tasks and work packages having achieved and even surpassed their planned key performance indicators. Most importantly, an ever-increasing engagement with industry is developing. Several patents have been filed, products are starting to be commercialised, and companies want to join the flagship."
The final formal business of the General Assembly included the re-election to the Executive Board as members-at-large of Annick Loiseau, Włodek Strupiński and Thomas Reiss, and the election of new member-at-large Peter Olanders, research leader at Ericsson AB in Sweden.
Immediately following the General Assembly, leaders of the flagship's various science and management work packages spoke of R&D and organisational highlights from the past year. Tuesday morning began with an invited presentation by philosopher Bernadette Bensaude Vincent on ethical principles in research. Vincent spoke of how cultural values inevitably inform research practice, the difference between normal and normative behaviour, and moral economy in science.
Returning to flagship-specific business, delegates looked at the detail of the Technology and Innovation Roadmap. This complements the science-centred graphene roadmap published earlier this year in the journal Nanoscale, placing greater emphasis on industry needs and competing technologies. Delegates also discussed standardisation and materials characterisation, and further development of the flagship's samples and materials database. The remainder of the second day was taken up with science work package meetings.
Reflecting on the two-day flagship summit in Berlin, Madrid-based materials scientist Mar Garciá-Hernández comments: "It is rewarding to look back at the kick-off General Assembly, just two years ago, and realise how much things have evolved since then. The synergies developed among the best groups in the world have confirmed a strong and united community. A sense of belonging has emerged, and collaborative research ranks very high."
Another leading flagship researcher, chemist Vincenzo Palermo from Bologna, adds: "We do not have a crystal ball to look into the future, but it is exciting to see more than one hundred scientists working together to discuss roadmaps, industrial standards and ethics, and trying to understand where this new technology will bring us, and when."