Today, I hosted a roundtable with high-level representatives from Member States, major European research organisations, European industry and academic research associations. Our objective was to explore the future science and technology challenges that are of strategic importance for Europe.

These challenges could be addressed by Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagships. FET flagships are ambitious game-changing and large scale research initiatives that have the potential of delivering a profound transformational impact on our economy and society. I believe this is the right time to pave the way for new initiatives as we are preparing the last years of the EU's Horizon 2020 research and development programme. Furthermore, it is especially relevant in anticipation of the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9).

 

Our roundtable today was the opportunity to discuss the top level priorities for forthcoming FET flagship initiatives. We have identified major challenges that could be addressed by future FET-flagships in key areas such as "ICT for connected society", "health and life science", and "environment, climate and energy".

 

Today's conclusions are based on intense preparatory work which started with an open public consultation earlier this year. 24 ideas for future flagships had been proposed. This was followed by a wide consultation with the Member States, leading research organisations, industry and academic research associations. They were invited to consider the ideas submitted in the public consultation, make their own suggestions and also to provide an assessment of all proposals as regards their strategic relevance as potential FET flagships.

 

The intention of our meeting was not to select a winner. We are still at an early stage and must ensure that no good ideas are left out. Instead, we focussed the main areas for possible future FET flagships, and I received a clear message on why it is important for Europe to address them, together with broad support by Member States and stakeholders.

 

As a next step and as part of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020, we will launch a competitive call for preparatory actions for future flagships covering these areas. The call will leave enough flexibility and opportunity to the research stakeholders in order to further develop and enrich the initial ideas, bring in new players and input, merge some of these ideas, or even include new ideas that are not yet on the table. The overall objective will be to launch some 4 to 6 preparatory actions for flagships.

 

In the coming months, we will also consider the main findings and recommendations of the FET flagship interim evaluation panel and the lessons learnt so far from the two running FET flagships, the Human Brain Project and Graphene.

 

New innovative research flagships can help transforming Europe's economy and society for the better. Let's continue to work together both at national and at European level to make this opportunity a reality.

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