"Strategy and long-term commitment are keys to success"
The Graphene Flagship, tasked with taking graphene from laboratories into the market in the space of 10 years, has been delivering results for over six years. What are the benefits with a large-scale and long-term research initiative?
During the Graphene Battery Workshop in Uppsala at the end of last year, we had the chance to talk to Professor Vittorio Pellegrini, Director of Graphene Labs at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and head of the Division Composite, Energy and Production at the European Graphene Flagship. With a €1 billion budget the core consortium of the Graphene Flagship consists of over 160 academic and industrial research groups in 23 countries.
What are the benefits with a large-scale and long-term research initiative like the Graphene Flagship?
"The advantage is the possibility to make a strategy that is shared among a large research and industrial community. Within a flagship, you then have a critical mass to implement it. You have the determinations of a large variety of people, competence and equipment’s to reach the goals”.
“I believe this is an advantage compared with conventional projects that last only for two to three years with a smaller group of people. Here, you have a long horizon, a commitment of many different groups, and a long-term strategy. It is very effective, especially if you want to increase the competition on the industrial side”.
And the challenges with a large-scale initiative?
“Well, if you are not a part of this large initiative you may feel somehow excluded and that it is difficult to get in. Of course, the Graphene Flagship looks outside for certain competences that are included through open calls, but otherwise the Flagship makes choices and then go straight towards the objectives. It’s a balance between being very focused and at the same time being open, and this is a challenge for these kinds of initiatives”.
Do you have any advice to give the BATTERY 2030+ initiative, that has the ambition to become a long-term and large-scale research initiative?
“I think that Battery 2030+ has done the right things so far. You have defined a roadmap, which I believe is fundamental. Once you have a roadmap you have a path to follow. And of course, being able to attract key competences from relevant scientific and technological fields is also very important”.
“Another crucial aspect is the protection of what is developed by the initiative. The Intellectual Property (IP) protection is challenging but crucial. I think those are the three most imperative aspects; having a roadmap, the ability to bring in the right people to accomplish the goals and IP protection.”