Meet the billion euro projects: Human Brain and Graphene

Summary:The European Commission has selected the two winning proposals: one to model the entire brain using a supercomputer and another to push graphene into the marketplace. Half a billion euros each.

After a two-year, high-profile contest, the European Commission has selected two research proposals to fund: one will model the whole brain using a supercomputer and the other will push graphene into the marketplace.

They’ll receive half a billion euros each. Nature News reports.

Launched in 2009, the Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship competition was a challenge to apply information and communication technologies to social problems.

The Human Brain Project plans to simulate everything known about the human brain -- its cells, chemistry, and connectivity -- in a supercomputer. The project, led by Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, claims it will aid medical advancement in brain disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Graphene project will develop graphene -- an ultrathin, flexible form of carbon that can conduct light and electricity -- for applications in computing, batteries, and sensors.

"We would start with applications in communication technology, like a fancy radio that operates at frequencies that cannot be used today," project leader Jari Kinaret at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden told ScienceInsider. Other goals, such as artificial retinas and other bio-implants would be pursued at a later time.

The projects will now enter the ‘ramp-up’ phase, receiving €54 million each for the first 2.5 years. They expect to receive €1 billion over a decade.

This is the biggest funding contest the European Commission has ever hosted. The commission will make a formal announcement in Brussels on Monday.

[Via Nature News, ScienceInsider]

Image: Henry Markram / Human Brain Project

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter.

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