Core ingredients for the Human Brain Project (HBP): openness, inclusive collaboration and good governance.

 

Independent experts have now completed their evaluation of the HBP's proposal for a Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA). The experts found the proposal very good and recommended some improvements, which the HBP consortium will integrate into an amended FPA. These include its governance structure; the need to focus its scientific orientations in line with those defined in the original project; and the effective integration of the cognitive neuroscience community. The Consortium has also been asked to propose transparent mechanisms to further develop its partnership and meet the requirements of its evolving research agenda. This agenda – which receives funding from Horizon 2020 – is due to be revised and submitted to the Commission for review every 2 years, before being approved for implementation.

I welcome the fact that the HBP has nominated a mediator to help the consortium address these recommendations.

In parallel, the Commission is organising the first review of the ongoing HBP project with a panel of independent experts. This will look not only at progress in science and technology over the HBP's first year but also assess the overall management of the project and the degree of mobilisation and coordination of its resources. The review will take place towards the end of January 2015. The results will be valuable for the FPA revision which is expected to be completed in March/April 2015.

The HBP – and Graphene, the other FET Flagship – will be driven by a novel partnership model described in detail in a document published today (press release). This model includes a core project, acting as the driving force for the Flagship and ensuring cohesion, and partnering projects, as an integral part of the initiative. The core project is planned to be funded by the EU while the partnering projects would mostly be funded by national and regional funding sources.

Collaboration and strong links between the core and partnering projects are essential to make the Flagship work. Representatives from the partnering projects will be part of the management framework of the core project: they will have a role in the governance structure of the Flagship, and in particular will influence the overall research roadmap.

The European Commission is fully committed to make the HBP a success story. Further regular evaluations and annual reviews will help steering the Flagship in the right direction, while remaining faithful to the HBP's central aim: building a world-class experimental ICT infrastructure to design brain-computer models to understand and simulate the structure and functions of the human brain.

The HBP brings together three science and technology communities: neuroscience, medicine and computing. It is a focused project, not a new funding scheme for these communities. The HBP will complement existing initiatives by integrating relevant efforts in the form of partnering projects.

It is essential for the success of HBP to keep an open exchange of views with all relevant scientific communities. An open forum will be held at least once per year. The forum will be open to all those interested scientists that would like to join the discussions, whether they are participating in the HBP or not.

I am confident that the HBP will help, over the years to come, understand the human brain, treat its diseases and develop new technologies for the benefits of citizens. This can be achieved thanks to a constructive spirit of cooperation from all parts.

 

Previous blog post on the HBP: No single roadmap for understanding the human brain (July 2014)