Published: 2020-12-21 09:53 | Updated: 2021-03-26 12:52

NeurotechEU - from neurochallenges to neuropotentials

A unique event gathered more than 1,000 participants in front of their computers 16 December. Together with seven other European universities, Karolinska Institutet organized a digital opening of NeurotechEU - The European University of Brain and Technology.

Students, teachers, researchers and staff were welcomed to a full day focusing on opportunities and future visions for the new university network in neuroscience and technology, which is part of the EU's European Universities Initiative.

Started with the students

Logo NeurotechEU
Logo NeurotechEU Foto: NeurotechEU

Tansu Celikel from Radboud University, the coordinating university, welcomed everyone. After a short introduction of NeurotechEU's mission, the students were asked to share their thoughts and expectations.

In four different digital meeting rooms, new opportunities to exchange experiences of scientific methods and protocols, doctoral student funding, joint courses and other educational elements were discussed. Everyone agreed on the fantastic potential for education and research that lies in gathering the expertise in neuroscience and technology from these eight universities under one roof. Students from all universities are involved in the work from the start.

European Universities Initiative to strengthen the European education and research area

Vanessa Debias-Sainton, Head of Higher Education and European Universities within the European Commission, spoke inspiringly about the opportunities that the European University can bring to the development of a strong European education and research area. NeurotechEU did well in the competition in the second call and now there is now a total of 41 European universities bringing together over 280 European higher education institutions in different alliances. Hard work lies ahead, "a bumpy ride", but if we collaborate rather than compete, we can all help accelerate the agenda, Vanessa said.

Professor Zoltán Molnár from the University of Oxford, celebrated 400 years of development in neuroscience by taking the audience back to the 17th century and Thomas Willis' pioneering efforts.

Neurotech2040 - KI's area of ​​responsibility

KI's representative in the alliance, Academic Vice-President of Doctoral Education  prof. Robert Harris, opened up the afternoon, which included eight parallel interactive discussions.

KI is leading the future-looking workpackage, which is focusing on identifying challenges and formulating future visions for the continued work within NeurotechEU until 2040. Robert began with a look back at how far 100 years of development in the field has taken us. Another 20 years can lead to huge steps forward and NeurotechEU's combined competencies can make this possible. At present, there is a lack of both cure and treatment for many neuro-related diseases, as Robert Harris put it about brain research, "it is the last frontier".

For NeurotechEU neuroscience spans from brain and mental health to learning and rehabilitation and includes as well ethical aspects.

Robert Harris summed up the day after many and rewarding discussions with the fact that NeurotechEU's inauguration has really shown the strength of coming together and the creativity that arises from discussing and sharing knowledge and experiences. After today, we should no longer talk about "neurochallenges" but "neuropotentials", Robert Harris concluded.


Anna Dahlerus International coordinator