Gallery: Ideas that are worth millions

The six finalists in the FET Flagship scheme were announced on Wednesday at the FET11 future and emerging technologies (FET) conference in Budapest. Each will receive €1.5million ($2.18 million) in European Commission funding to refine their proposals over the next year, after which the two winning projects will be announced. Those two projects will each get an annual budget of up to €100 million  ($145 million) for a 10-year period. ZDNet UK gives a rundown of the competiton.

"The finalists announced today will plant the seeds for tomorrow's innovation," digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. "Europe hosts some of the world's leading researchers in the fascinating and highly inspiring area of future and emerging technologies. By joining forces to address grand challenges, European, national and regional funding can lead to innovations that will tackle problems like neuro-degenerative diseases and climate change."

One of the six finalists is a project researching graphene and what this substance could mean for future electronics. According to Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology, which is running the project, a graphene Flagship project could provide a major boost for Europe's microelectronics industry.

Graphene is made from single layers of carbon atoms that, on an atomic level, has the appearance of chicken wire. Although it is only starting to become understood, many see graphene as a way of breaking past the limitations of silicon and moving onto the level of quantum computing. The technology may lead to flexible and very fast electronic components.

The Swedish project would look at fabrication methods for cheaper graphene materials that, according to the Commission, "combine structural functions with embedded electronics, in an environmentally sustainable manner".

Captions: David Meyer, ZDNet UK

Photo credit: AlexanderAlUS/Wikimedia Commons

By Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.