by Mario Campolargo
Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) is an incubator and pathfinder for new ideas and themes related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Europe, supporting high-risk research with a potential for substantial technological or societal impact. The scheme encourages the exploration of new approaches and provides sustained support to emerging areas that require long-term fundamental research. FET looks for breakthroughs in ICT that open the way for new forms and uses of information and information technologies. Its mission is to go beyond the conventional boundaries of ICT and to venture into uncharted areas, to seek fresh synergies, and to promote cross-pollination and convergence between different scientific disciplines, the arts and humanities.
Over the past 10 years or so FET has developed around two schemes, Open and Proactive, to which has recently been added a prominent new dimension, namely FET Flagship initiatives.
Originating from the FP7 ICT programme, FET Flagships will be large-scale, goal-oriented, science-driven research initiatives. They will be highly multidisciplinary with links to research in other programmes and scientific areas, with a budget that may reach up to €100 million per year over a 10-year period. Similar to other initiatives such as the Human Genome project, FET Flagships will aim at unprecedented discoveries and will put Europe at the forefront of science and technology.
In May 2011, six pilot actions were selected to prepare, over one year, a detailed plan for FET Flagships. This preparatory work is developing research roadmaps, plans for resource coordination and models for implementation, and ensures the commitment of key stakeholders. Hundreds of scientists around Europe are already mobilised in this competition which is expected to result in the selection of two full FET Flagships which would begin work in 2013.
FET Flagship initiatives will also significantly contribute to the Digital Agenda for Europe . By encouraging collaborations under strong scientific leadership, FET Flagships will address the fragmentation of European research. They will leverage the investments in basic research seeded from ICT, providing innovation in technology and results for the benefit of society. FET Flagships will be in full swing under Horizon 2020 - the next EU framework programme for Research and Innovation. In this context, the FET Flagship concept offers a ‘Blueprint’ for other large-scale European goal driven research initiatives.
FET Flagships present an exciting opportunity for European researchers to work at the leading edge of scientific endeavour. Although only two Flagships will be launched in 2013, all six pilot actions presented here will undoubtedly have a profound and lasting impact on the European research landscape as a result of their work in mobilising the research community. I hope as many people as possible will contribute to this work and help make Europe the best place in the world to carry out research.
More information on the FET Flagships initiative: