Future Tech Week 2020: Shining a Spotlight on the Science Creating Tomorrow’s Technologies

About 100 EIC Pathfinder FET projects shared their successes, results and findings at the second annual Future Tech Week, hosted by FETFX in partnership with the European Innovation Council

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From September 21-25, the spotlight shone brightly on Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) at Future Tech Week, a large-scale celebration of the transformative frontier research and breakthrough innovation funded under the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pathfinder and FET programmes. This second edition took place against the challenging backdrop of COVID-19, which Future Tech Week sidestepped by introducing an entirely virtual format – making this year’s sessions even more accessible to a wide variety of stakeholders.

 

Future Tech Week also participated in the flagship event European Research and Innovation Days, contributing four dynamic sessions to the EIC’s dedicated Hub. Included in the mix were several roundtables featuring noted researchers from the FET ecosystem and special videos contributed by EIC Pathfinder FET projects inviting viewers behind the scenes, into their research laboratories and introducing some of the talented teams involved. The sessions kicked-off with a keynote by neuroscience professor and director of Norway’s Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience Edvard I. Moser. Professor Moser coordinated the FET GRIDMAP project, and was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research in 2014.

 

“Technology influences science but it is a bidirectional relationship,” said Professor Moser when asked about the role of leading-edge science for developing ground-breaking and radically new technology during his session. “Programmes such as FET are important because they require us to think ahead.”

 

Other noteworthy contributions included a second keynote from physicist and EIC Pilot Advisory Board member Jerzy Langer, an interview with the EIC’s newest Programme Manager Iordanis Arzimanoglou, a Ted Talk by Rachel Armstrong from the Living Architecture project and a discussion about women in FET and the STEM field featuring ICREA Research Professor, PHENOMEN project coordinator and former FET Advisory Group chair Clivia Sotomayor Torres and robotics professor Cecilia Laschi, coordinator of FET OCTOPUS. Further sessions were roundtables on advanced laser processing strategies, on shaping Europe’s future through global systems science, and on extra-cellular vesicles and how they are reshaping our perspective on life sciences, environment and public health.

 

In addition to the eight roundtables and keynotes, Future Tech Week also featured some 25 virtual events hosted or contributed by EIC Pathfinder FET projects, covering several of the FET programme’s research fields including artificial intelligence and information technology, energy and environment, health and biotechnology, and nanotechnology and materials. The Future Board, a virtual platform for projects to share their noteworthy results and other announcements generated more than 80 posts from about 100 projects. Future Tech Week can also boast of an impressive presence on social media: more than 850 tweets mentioned the event’s dedicated hashtag #EICFTW during September.

 

The event coincided with the release of ‘Voices from the Future’, a booklet produced by FETFX which recounts 30 years of breakthrough technologies in Europe under the framework research and innovation programmes, including Horizon 2020 FET, which is now evolving into the EIC Pathfinder for Advanced Research.

 

“We cannot continue in the way of the modern world – we have to make a big technological jump in Europe,“ said Jerzy Langer on the transition of FET into EIC Pathfinder. “Not only working on concepts but putting them effectively into practice. I’m sure that one of the most powerful tools in this historic jump will be the follower of the FET programme, EIC Pathfinder.”

 

Recordings all the keynotes and roundtable sessions have been made available on the FETFX YouTube channel.

 

Background information

FET-Open and FET Proactive are now part of the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) Pilot (specifically the Pathfinder), the new home for deep-tech research and innovation in Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation.

 

Cover photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash