Empowering Young Explorers Project
Empowering Young Explorers (EYE) was a support project for future and emerging technologies (FET) funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7).
The aim of EYE was to help young European researchers in a range of disciplines to realise their scientific potential in future and emerging technologies (FET) and contribute to breakthrough research. The project encouraged the generation of high risk scientific ideas through brainstorming and interdisciplinary collaboration between young researchers. In addition, EYE supported the development of their leadership potential through networking and training.
The EYE project supported young researchers interested or already involved in high risk FET-quality multi/interdisciplinary research enabled by information and communication technology (ICT). A young researcher is a holder of a PhD degree awarded at least six years prior to participation in EYE activities and events.
The EYE project was coordinated by the Technical University of Delft. Ten partners, including six universities, two research institutions and two small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from 9 European countries, had joined forces to deliver EYE. The partners established a network of local collaborators in 38 countries across Europe, which promoted the EYE activities locally among young researchers. Europlan UK was the originator of the EYE project idea and was responsible for communication and coordination of multiple activities undertaken by the partners.
Starting in November 2013, the EYE project supported a series of complementary regional and European brainstorming and training events for young scientists involved in FET-quality research, such as seminars, conferences and summer schools. Young researchers were invited to take part in two cycles of EYE events and competitions. Travel and accommodation costs of selected participating young researchers were covered by the EYE project.
Lab Surfing Workshops - regional brainstorming and networking events
The project started with six “Lab Surfing” workshops running in six regions of Europe: North and Irish Sea; Black Sea and South Mediterranean, Western Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe; Western Mediterranean, and Nordics and Baltics Participants. These regional workshops provided young researchers with a unique opportunity to learn about the most advanced FET research, brainstorm about future research areas and jointly elaborate new high risk scientific ideas, partner with their peers, and also develop scientific administration and leadership skills.
European “Blue Sky” Conference for young researchers
Regional teams of young researchers with the most promising ideas were invited to attend a “Blue Sky” Conference where they could further consolidate collaborative research ideas and network more widely at a European level.
Science Incubator Summer School
Finally, the teams with strongest ideas took part in the “Science Incubator” Summer School. This four-day intensive training event helped the selected teams of young researchers to bring their ideas to a level from which substantive FET project proposals could be presented for participation in Horizon 2020. Special attention was paid to the transformation of ideas generated by young researchers into specific project proposals.
EYE thematic focus
EYE advocates blue sky thinking and the disruptive innovation potential of young researchers and supports FET-quality research which goes beyond the conventional boundaries of ICT and ventures into uncharted territories and convergence with different scientific disciplines. Nine broad multidisciplinary research areas provide a thematic framework for EYE:
- Time for time (notions of time inspiring new technological possibilities);
- Constructive symbiosis (hybrid artificial-natural systems);
- Bottom-up intelligent construction (constructing materials at various size scales);
- Ecological technology (holistic paradigms for environmental impact of technologies, incl. ubiquitous environmental sensors, embedded technologies);
- Nano-bio-chem interface (new tools and techniques for advancing research, e.g., in neuroscience or biology, novel systems and synthetic or hybrid materials, applications for new implants, drug delivery, generative medicine);
- Knowing, doing and being (interdisciplinary fundamentals of knowledge; future knowledge technologies);
- Nano-optomechanical technologies;
- Quantum technologies (technologies exploiting quantum phenomena, e.g. superposition and entanglement);
- Global Systems Science (novel participatory tools and processes for linking scientific evidence from systems science, operational research, computer science, into policies and societal dialogue).
The EYE events were built thematically upon these broad directions for FET, as well as on Horizon 2020 societal challenges in Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing; Secure, clean and efficient Energy; Industrial Biotechnology; Smart, green and integrated Transport; Climate action, Resource efficiency and raw materials. Participation in EYE is also open to young scientists in ICT-enabled research in other areas.
Interview with Stephan Pascall, Managing Director, Europlan UK on key goals and activities of the EYE project can be found here.