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Europe’s next €1-billion science projects: six teams make it to final round

The European Commission has selected six research projects — in areas from health and energy to artificial intelligence and cultural heritage — to compete to become one of its next billion-euro ‘flagship’ science initiatives, Nature has learned.

The commission chose the 6 candidates in December from a list of 16 proposals, say scientists on the shortlisted teams. On 1 March, each team will receive €1 million (US$1.1 million) to develop a detailed feasibility proposal over the next year. Up to three will be chosen to become fully fledged initiatives to launch in 2021.

The commission already supports three scientific mega-projects known as FET Flagships — on the brain, graphene and quantum technologies — which are each funded to the tune of around €1 billion over 10 years. The high-profile projects aim to make paradigm-shifting advances in their field — by bringing together expertise and funding from scores of academic and industrial sources across the continent — but haven’t been without criticism or controversy.

The six newly shortlisted initiatives include: a project that would explore how AI can enhance human capabilities; one to hasten clinical availability of cell and gene therapies; a personalized-medicine initiative; two projects that aim to make solar energy more efficient; and a humanities project called the Time Machine, which seeks to develop methods for enabling digital search of historical records in European cities.(...) Read more

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