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Preparatory Actions for new FET Flagships


Proposals should contain a description of a potential FET Flagship and how this is to be matured over the course of the preparatory action into a more complete blueprint.

Firstly, proposals should describe the FET Flagship initiative they propose to further develop through this preparatory action, by specifically addressing the following three key issues:

  • What makes this a FET Flagship: what is the unifying goal, the grand S&T challenge and the underlying vision; why is this a grand challenge and what makes it a ""game-changer""; what are its main goals and objectives; and what are the technologies, including digital technologies, that it would advance.
  • Impact (why it is good for Europe): will it bring major impact on economy and society as well as on science and technology; why and how is it relevant for the European industry; how does it build on existing scientific excellence in Europe; what is its innovation potential that would benefit Europe's economy and/or society; how would it uniquely position Europe with respect to relevant developments and initiatives existing in other regions in the world.
  • Integration and European added value: is it well positioned to address its grand S&T challenge in terms of large-scale integration across disciplines and the involvement of relevant stakeholders from academia, industry and society at large; does critical mass in terms of research excellence and industrial capabilities exist in Europe needed to address the challenge; what is the estimated scale of the effort required to reach the objectives and how long will it take to do so; and, are there similar initiatives existing at regional, national or European level and what is the added value of such an effort.

Secondly, proposals should describe how the activities of the preparatory action will involve stakeholders over the course of up to 12 months (indicative), to arrive at a complete design and description of a candidate FET Flagship initiative. Specifically, they should describe the proposed activities for further developing the Flagship's unifying goal and its underlying S&T roadmap; attracting industry's endorsement and participation; further developing their consortium and its governance structure and attracting large public support.

Proposals should consider multidisciplinary aspects, including where relevant social sciences and humanities. They must also describe a clear strategy for dissemination and citizen engagement; and, in close cooperation with other proposals for preparatory actions that will be selected from this call, jointly organise and participate in an event addressing stakeholders including scientific communities, policy makers and the wider public and aiming at disseminating the main objectives and findings of the actions.

At the end of the action, the design and description of the candidate Flagship should include the following elements:

  • A consolidated vision based on a well-defined unifying goal articulated in terms of S&T objectives and of its targeted impact on economy and society.
  • A strategic long-term research roadmap, showing how the unifying goal can be realised and what the major milestones are, situating the Flagship in the global landscape and demonstrating a credible path towards societal impact, technology development, innovation and exploitation.
  • A blueprint for the Flagship's implementation setting out the overall collaboration and S&T framework, the identification of necessary competencies and resources including infrastructure aspects, and openness of the initiative.
  • An effective scientific leadership and governance structure based on lessons learned from the present Flagships, describing the coordination and decision-making structures of the Flagship, the role of industry and the relations with Member States and countries associated with Horizon 2020, with the Commission and with the relevant funding agencies and national research initiatives.
  • Support from and involvement of industry, giving a view on avenues for exploitation and further strengthening of European industry in the global landscape, including stimulating the emergence and growth of innovative value chains.
  • An approach to address responsible research and innovation, in particular aspects such as education, gender aspects and societal, ethical and legal implications.

Proposals for candidate FET Flagships must target a visionary unifying goal within one of the following three main areas: ICT and Connected Society; Health and Life Sciences; or Energy, Environment and Climate change. They should present a multidisciplinary approach that brings together the relevant communities to address their unifying goal. Proposals must clearly specify which of the three areas they target. In each of these areas at least one and at most two proposals for Flagship preparatory actions will be selected for funding.

(1) ICT and Connected Society

The proposal should address any of the following sub-areas in part or in whole:

  • Smart Materials and Nanoscale Engineering: Novel nano-engineered materials and systems with properties enabling the design and manufacturing of radically new ICT components and devices creating disruptive technologies and market opportunities, for example in energy efficiency, data processing, smart manufacturing, smart interfaces, nano-bio devices, etc.
  • Robotics, Interfaces and Artificial Intelligence: a new generation of robotics technologies including soft and flexible robotics, bio-inspired robotics, new approaches to human-machine interaction and cooperation, cognition and artificial intelligence, giving rise to much smarter systems performing sophisticated functions opening radically new opportunities to address societal and economic challenges.
  • ICT for Social Interaction and Culture: new ICT technologies and approaches for empowering deep social interactions across diverse cultures, languages, goals, values, etc.; for understanding large-scale complex socio-technical systems and their interactions, interdependencies and evolutions and avenues for exploiting this understanding; and/or for collecting, preserving, studying and promoting Europe's unique cultural heritage and exploiting these to achieve major societal or economic benefits.

(2) Health and the Life Sciences

The proposal should address any of the following sub-areas in part or in whole:

  • Disruptive technologies to Revolutionise Healthcare: New technologies and approaches aiming at a paradigm shift in the field of individualised prevention, prediction and treatment of diseases. This includes among others bioinformatics and modelling approaches to use patients' genetic expression patterns, metabolism and derived systems; novel and innovative nano-medicine approaches (e.g. technologies for novel sensors and imaging, organ-on-a-chip and bio-electronic medicine, drug delivery, …); network medicine; neuro-prosthetic technologies; regenerative medicine and biofabrication techniques to reprogram or replace human cells, tissues and whole organs and to integrate these in functioning body systems.
  • Understanding Life by Exploring the Genome and the Cell: Novel technologies and approaches that enable a paradigm shift in studying and understanding the foundational building blocks of life, for example the functioning of the cell, and of cells within organisms, including structure and dynamics, and the full multi-omics (genome/epigenome/proteome/metabolome/connectome etc.) and their interactions. This will open up radically new opportunities such as developing novel nano-bio devices and technologies, advanced screening methods and analytical and morphological technologies, advanced therapies and contribute to the understanding of biological processes and pathological mechanisms.

(3) Energy, Environment and Climate change

The proposal should address any of the following sub-areas in part or in whole:

  • Earth, Climate Change and Natural Resources: New technologies and approaches for high-precision modelling and simulation, including the necessary data integration, that enable an in-depth understanding of the earth, natural hazards and climate change. Their exploitation and use should open up new opportunities for helping to manage/mitigate their effects and impacts on human activity and natural resources in a sustainable way in specific areas such as: agriculture (ensuring food security and sustainable farming), forestry, fisheries, protecting/restoring natural ecosystems, energy supply and demand, etc.
  • Radically new Energy Production, Conversion and Storage devices and systems: Disruptive technologies aiming at a paradigm shift in renewable energy by exploring and exploiting radically new principles and novel materials that can substantially reduce Europe's dependence on fossil fuels and open new industrial opportunities for their exploitation and sustainable development.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

FET Flagships are science- and technology-driven, large-scale, multidisciplinary research initiatives built around a visionary unifying goal. They tackle grand science and technology (S&T) challenges requiring cooperation among a range of disciplines, communities and programmes. FET Flagships should provide a strong and broad basis for future innovation and economic exploitation, as well as novel benefits for society of a potential high impact. The overarching nature and magnitude implies that they can only be realised through a collaborative, long-term sustained cooperation effort. This topic aims at launching Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) to prepare new candidate FET Flagships.

For the CSA:

  • Fully developed candidate FET Flagship initiatives supported by key stakeholders (e.g. academic research communities, industry, public authorities …).

For the proposed Flagships:

  • Key benefits for economy and society based on significant advances on science and technology. This should be demonstrated by e.g. potential for S&T breakthroughs, industrial support, added value for Europe, potential for increasing European competitiveness, potential for societal benefits, etc.
  • Long-lasting structuring effect on research efforts in Europe, anchor point for international cooperation and the nurturing of talent through the training of a new generation of researchers.