Six application-oriented spearhead projects and an invitation to express interest in joining the consortium. Those are examples of how the Graphene Flagship will move forward as it reaches midterm of its ten-year voyage. Representing the European Union's largest ever research initiative the Graphene Flagship's general assembly staked out the course for the next phase at its meeting in Bologna, Italy, in early April.
"We are happy to conclude that we have reached the goals we put up when the project started in 2013 and that the research we have produced so far is now ready to lay the ground for actual commercial applications within the coming years. Our mission is to take graphene and related 2D materials from the academic laboratories to the factory floor and we are now taking yet another important step towards industrialisation of the technologies that we have been creating," says Jari Kinaret, director of the Graphene Flagship, based at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.
The process of establishing the areas where resources should be focused has been ongoing for over one year and is based on different sources of input and evaluation, such as the Technology and Innovation Roadmap that has been completed by a working group within the Graphene Flagship. After identifying market motivated and narrowly defined areas where graphene could make a difference, six spearhead projects were selected for funding. They focus on a wide range of application areas, from solutions for 5G data transmission to solar energy and wearable electronics, but all have the common goal to develop new or improved products with integrated graphene or related materials (GRM).
"All of the spearhead projects have strong company involvement and are committed to produce industrial prototypes within two years, in order to spur interest also among companies that are currently not involved with the Graphene Flagship." says Kinaret.
The increased focus on innovation and commercialisation also means that the consortium of over 150 partners from 23 European countries will be adjusted to make sure that each partner has a well-defined role to fill and that there are no gaps in the value chain. To avoid such gaps the Graphene Flagship invites 15 individual Expressions of Interest for new partners with specific expertise, while a number of existing partners will have finished their tasks in the Graphene Flagship consortium.
The Graphene Flagship's second core project under EU's Horizon 2020 programme starts 1 April 2018 and runs for two years. Director Jari Kinaret is looking forward with confidence:
"We see that the centre of gravity of the Graphene Flagship is gradually moving from developing materials technologies to components and systems integration. We are exactly on schedule and I am very confident that we will reach the goal we have set for ourselves".