These are difficult times. We are facing unprecedented challenges. Nevertheless, the Graphene Flagship, which turns seven today, is stronger than ever. We have reached cruising speed – research, innovation and collaboration have allowed us to create a unique ecosystem that has brought graphene and related materials to the market in record time. Europe is now, without a doubt, a leader in the field.
Our multidisciplinary consortium of partners – which includes universities, research institutions, small companies and large industries – has constantly evolved and matured, and now encompasses over 170 partners in 21 different countries. Our cooperative spirit allows us to work together seamlessly to achieve landmarks such as the first ever graphene-powered solar farm, recently inaugurated in Greece and now operating at maximum capacity.
With our first years dedicated to fundamental research on graphene and the many new two-dimensional and layered materials that followed, we now set our course towards innovation. Today, we launch a new experimental pilot line to integrate graphene and related materials in semiconductor platforms. The 2D Experimental Pilot Line (2D-EPL) project, also funded by the European Commission, will cover the entire value chain, from tool producers and providers to electronics manufacturers and pilot lines. This will pioneer the fabrication of new electronics, photonics and sensors integrating graphene and related materials. The 2D-EPL will offer prototyping services to companies, research centres and academics to develop their innovative technologies.
Along the route to innovation we have recently kicked off eleven new 'Spearhead Projects', which are led and co-funded by European industries – among them Airbus, ABB, Lufthansa Technik, Siemens, Medica, and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. These projects have been designed to increase the Technology Readiness Level of promising graphene-enabled technologies and accelerate their path to the market. Our commitment to the Spearheads reaches one third of our budget, which shows our strong belief in the potential of these initiatives.
In parallel, we will keep investigating the properties of graphene and layered materials. We believe that many exciting discoveries are yet to come. Besides graphene, we now count on thousands of new two-dimensional materials that, much like ingredients in a sandwich, can be combined variously to form structures with different tailored properties. Also, we will continue our efforts assessing the health and safety aspects of these new materials; and persist in our standardisation and validation actions to ensure trust in our graphene community and our products.
Last but not least, we have responded to the challenges posed by coronavirus by creating a task force to assess how our technologies can help alleviate and cope with the effects of the pandemic. We have also pioneered innovative digital events, such as our 3D-virtual world for Women in Graphene 2020 and our recently launched Graphene Hub, which proved a success in our recent conference Graphene For Research, Innovation and Collaboration. We are working to further develop our innovation events and participation in commercial tradeshows – stay tuned for that.
All of us at the Graphene Flagship are grateful to the European Commission for making this singular large-scale project possible. We are meeting – and even surpassing – the expectations from seven years ago, and we will keep working towards our original goals: bringing graphene to the market and generating economic growth, new jobs and new opportunities in Europe.
Happy birthday, Graphene Flagship!