Swiss project achieves FET Flagship status

Press releases, 28.01.2013

Bern, In the drive to secure EU research funding, Switzerland has achieved a leading position in the area of Future and Emerging Technologies. For Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, this confirms the strength of the Swiss education, research and innovation model. Research groups from both of Switzerland’s federal institutes of technology were involved in five (as project leaders in three) of the six FET Flagship project proposals that reached the final phase of the selection process. The EPFL’s “Human Brain Project” was one of the two projects chosen. Starting in 2013, this project will receive substantial FP7 and FP8 funding over a ten-year period.

Through its Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship Initiative, the European Commission sponsors major ambitious research projects that set visionary goals in the strategically important field of information and communication technologies. Over a ten-year period, up to EUR 100 million will be spent each year on selected projects. Participating countries, institutions and industries are expected to contribute a significant portion of this research funding, which may also come in the form of contributions in kind.

Among the measures approved in response to the Federal Council Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation for 2013-16,  Switzerland has taken preparatory steps to provide national support to Swiss-coordinated flagship projects. The EPFL-coordinated flagship Human Brain Project (HBP), which was chosen by the European Commission for its scientific excellence, will build from the EPFL's "Blue Brain Project". This has long been one of the three strategic initiatives of the FIT Council. Funding of the national portion of the HBP is therefore guaranteed and falls under the responsibility and priorities of the FIT Council.

Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), sees the extremely strong presence of Swiss research groups in the final phase of the FET Flagship selection process as proof of Switzerland's leading position. It also shows that research cooperation with other European countries in the area of information technology has been quite successful. Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann congratulates all of the Swiss research groups that managed to reach the final phase of the "Research Champions League". He also pointed out that these project proposals were the result of a bottom-up process driven by the researchers themselves. This once again underscores the merit of the Swiss model of granting researchers the greatest possible autonomy in organising their own activities.

The main objective of the EPFL-coordinated flagship HBP is to create a computer-generated simulation of the human brain, which should lead to major advances in the fields of neuroscience, medicine and social sciences as well as in the fields of information technology and robotics. In addition to the EPFL, Swiss partners in the HBP include the University Hospital Centre of the Canton of Vaud (CHUV), ETH Zurich, the University of Bern, the University of Zurich and IBM Research GmbH. In this manner, Swiss researchers will play a strategically important and pioneering role in European science and innovation.

The Swiss Research community will also play a prominent role in the Swedish-coordinated flagship Graphene Project, which was the second proposal selected by the European Commission. Here, Swiss partners will include ETH Zurich, the University of Geneva, the University of Basel, the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA).

Address for enquiries:

State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI
Jürg Burri, Vice Director, Head of Research and Innovation Directorate
T +41 31 323 17 88


Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research