Editors Note: The first article in this post introduces the Graphene Flagship - a new form of joint, coordinated research on an unprecedented scale, forming Europe's biggest ever research initiative. Several experts in this article weigh in with opinions regarding a key question posed since the start of the initiative - Was the Flagship set up to support “fundamental” research or “applied” research in its quest to make Europe the “Graphene Valley” of the world? Credit to Dexter Johnson, IEEE Spectrum.
The second part of the post links the 2018 Annual Report from the Graphene Flagship. The in-depth report discusses the advances made since its inception six years ago. It is highly informative for those who have an expanse of knowledge in graphene and for those who have little to no experience with the material.
Six years into an ambitious 10-year research project, experts weigh in on whether the Graphene Flagship can help the “wonder material” make it through the Valley of Death.
Excerpt: Six years ago, the European Union (EU) embarked on an ambitious project to create a kind of Silicon Valley for the “wonder material” of the last decade: graphene. The project—called the Graphene Flagship—would leverage €1 billion over 10 years to push graphene into commercial markets. The project would bring together academic and industrial research institutes to not only ensure graphene research would be commercialized, but to also make Europe an economic powerhouse for graphene-based technologies.
To this day, the EU’s investment in the Graphene Flagship represents the single largest project in graphene research and development (though some speculate that graphene-related projects in China may have surpassed it). In the past six years, the Graphene Flagship has spawned nine companies and 46 new graphene-based products. Despite these achievements, there remains a sense among critics that the wonder material has not lived up to expectations and the Flagship’s efforts have not done much to change that perception.
Excerpt from the 2018 Graphene Flagship Annual Report
Why the Graphene Flagship?
The defining feature of a flagship is long-term funding. This has proven to be an efficient way to take advanced concepts from early stages of development to maturity. Graphene Flagship partners have already released dozens of products on the market and launched several new companies to commercialise the results of their work. We see that a value network of new and old, large and small enterprises is being established in Europe as a direct outcome of the Graphene Flagship.
The coming year will bring with it several exciting developments. Most concretely, we must prepare the third core project of the Graphene Flagship, where we will further increase our effort in applied research and development while maintaining strong support for fundamental research. A new initiative, an experimental pilot line for graphene-based electronics, optoelectronics and sensors will be set up to address the manufacturing challenges. We will also start the work to prepare the continuation of the Graphene Flagship beyond 2023 and into the Horizon Europe era.