LEUVEN, Belgium -- Flanders' ambitious brain research that may lead to better diagnosis and treatment of brain disease, new prosthesis technologies for patients with a disability, a new generation of more intelligent robots, etc. switches into higher gear. In the presence of Ingrid Lieten, Flemish Minister of Innovation, Public Procurement, the Media and Combatting Poverty, imec, VIB, and K.U.Leuven officially inaugurated the NERF (Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders) labs on the Imec campus in Leuven. The Human Brain Project was also launched on this occasion, one of the projects on the shortlist of the prestigious European Flagship Programme. Through NERF and the participation of Flanders' research institutes in the Human Brain Project, Flanders shows that it is putting progressive brain research high on its research agenda.
NERF is a research initiative supported by imec, VIB and K.U.Leuven and funded by the Flemish government. In NERF, these three Flemish centres of expertise are pooling their knowledge in various research disciplines: nanoelectronics, biotechnology and neurology with a view to achieving breakthroughs in unravellling the workings of the brain.
The NERF labs, which were opened officially today, offer a unique combination of state-of-the-art nanoelectronics research instruments and tools for biotechnological and neurological research. This unique NERF infrastructure and the extensive multidisciplinary knowledge present in Flanders are acknowledged worldwide. NERF attracts international top researchers to conduct trail-blazing long-term research into the workings of the brain.
NERF will also contribute to the prestigious Human Brain Project, one of the six projects on the shortlist of the European Flagship Programme which will get off the ground next year. Of the projects on the shortlist, two will be selected which as a Flagship project will receive significant European and national support for a period of ten years. The aim of the Human Brain Project, led by the Swiss EPFL, is to bring together in huge databanks everything we know and all we can learn about the workings of brain molecules, cells and connections. This will serve as a basis for making biologically extremely accurate and detailed simulations of the entire human brain with the aid of informatics, modelling and supercomputing.
Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China and Japan. Its staff of about 1,900 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2010, imec's revenue (P&L) was 285 million euro.