€2bn booster shot for European research
Two new innovative projects have been selected for the European Union's programme which promotes initiatives in innovative and sustainable technologies.
"Swiss research in the European showcase," beams Swiss daily Le Temps. The Human Brain Project an initiative of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) was selected on January 28 as one of two projects by the European Union's FET Flagship programme which promotes initiatives in innovative and sustainable technologies within the Europe 2020 programme.
The European Commissioner responsible for New Technologies, Nelly Krooes, announced the two winners of the "Flagship" competition [...] who will each be awarded €1bn: Graphene, an initiative based in Sweden which hopes to develop a revolutionary electronic material, and the Human Brain Project (HBP), headquartered at the EPFL, which plans to simulate the human brain using super-computers."Developing social and health applications seems to be at the core of what Europe expects of the flagships," explains French daily Le Monde. But the paper adds, "a number of philosophers such as Patrick Juignet, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, denounce this approach as 'part of a vast reductionist, materialistic, ideological current seeking to mechanise humans. [...] The human-machine turns human beings into objects, depriving them of the specifics that make them human'."
From Madrid, daily El Periódico considers this "the greatest investment in the history of European research". The paper notes that –
The most sceptical consider that this is a huge investment with no guarantee of success, but the European Commission responds that Europe needs to take a brave step and get involved in two fast-growing sectors.
Regarding the Graphene project, Italian business daily Il Sole-24 Ore notes that in Brussels the one atom-thick, nanotech material is considered "the miracle material of the 21st Century, like plastic was to the 20th." Its extraordinary properties will open the path in a large number of fields from electronics where it will replace silicon, to renewable energies, to desalination projects, to biological research and so on. "The European initiative comes a little late, but better late than never," comments Il Sole-24 Ore, noting that -
These past five years, Chinese universities and business have registered 2,204 patents linked to graphene [...], the United States 1,754, South Korea 1,160 and Europe less than 500. In this context, Europe is right to attribute €1bn to the promised land of science.