The commission on Monday named the Human Brain Project, coordinated in part by Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), as one of two flagship “future and emerging technologies” research programs, each receiving one billion euros over 10 years.
EPFL is directing the project, involving 80 European and international research institutes, to better understand our grey cells.
The goal is to “pull together our existing knowledge about the human brain and to reconstruct the brain, piece by piece, in supercomputer-based models and simulations,” the Lausanne institute said on its website.
The models “offer the prospect of a new understanding of the human brain and its diseases and of completely new computing and robotic technologies”.
Scientists from the University of Lausanne and Lausanne’s university hospital centre (CHUV) are also involved in guiding the project, along with those from Germany’s Heidelberg University.
The cost of the project, running to 2023, is estimated at 1.19 billion euros (1.48 billion francs).
Meanwhile, five Swiss universities and research institutes are involved in the other flagship research project selected by the EC to conduct research into graphene, a lightweight material with applications in electronics and optical devices.
The material has been the subject of intense scientific interest since the groundbreaking experiments of Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, professors at the University of Manchester in England and winners of the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics.
The project, also receiving one billion euros in funding, will look at production graphene, its components use and ways to exploit the unique properties of graphene.
The universities of Basel, Geneva and Zurich, as well as the Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich (ETHZ) and the Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology are participating.
A total of 126 academic and industrial groups from 17 European countries will be involved initial research, to be streamlined to 20 to 30 groups for followup studies.
Nokia and Airbus are among the companies involved in the research.