EBRAINS – part of the Human Brain Project

September 21, 2020

Responsible Research and Innovation and Community Building in the Human Brain Project – the biggest brain research project in the EU



What contains the human brain?

One of the great mysteries of science if the human brain. The last seven years the Human Brain Project (HBP) has worked on the exploration of the brain. Scientists within IT, software, biology, and neuroscience each contributes with their expertise in this exploration, to help further the understanding of the human brain. Furthermore, this research into the human brain can also be used to accelerate computer science and artificial intelligence. To fulfil this ambition, there is a need to create collaboration and synergy between the very different fields of science involved in the HBP.



Furthermore, it is important that the development of new technology is being done in agreement with ethical and societal principles. Therefore, a need to ensure Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) within the HBP is a high priority. Read more on RRI within H2020 here: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/responsible-research-innovation

During the next three years the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT) will lead the work package on RRI within the HBP and lead the task on Inclusive Community Building for the European research infrastructure EBRAINS. The goal of the last phase of the HBP is to produce the groundwork that will allow EBRAINS to be a central research infrastructure within neuroscience for the EU and the world.


A part of the Human Brain Project

In spring 2020 the HBP entered the last three-year stage of the project, which in 2023 will have been going on for 10 years. Since 2013 the HBP has sought to bring scientist from all over Europe together to create the foundation of modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The ambition is that ICT will drive the integration of data and science from different disciplines, while catalyzing a community. A cross-discipline community that can create a new understanding of the brain, new methods for understanding and treating brain disease, and develop new brain-inspired computer technologies.


The DBT has since the beginning of the HBP been part of the Sub-Project ‘Ethics and Society’. Here, we have been involved in public engagement of citizens and stakeholders. Furthermore, we have been engaged in the coordination and management of the Ethics and Society group. This work will continue into the next and final phase of the HBP, under the new name ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’. This work package will be under the leadership and management of the DBT. The work package has a broad focus on ethics (including data- and neuroethics), gender and diversity, foresight, and public engagement. An important element is also to continue the establishment of collaborations on RRI, across international brain projects and networks.


Community on research

The DBT is also leading the task on Inclusive Community Building, which has the ambition of creating the foundation for an expanding and self-sustaining community around the EBRAINS research infrastructure.

This work will ensure that a community is created across the scientific disciplines represented in the HBP, but also for external collaborators such as patient associations, clinicians, and industry.

The goal of Community Building will be to create greater benefit for society, by ensuring that a broad range of stakeholders are being engaged in the infrastructure, its development and the research being conducted. This will allow for novel collaborations and more end-user directed research.