Human Brain Project chooses EMDESK

“We would recommend EMDESK to anyone looking for a comprehensive collaboration solution”, Eric Matrou, Finance Officer, HBP @ EPFL.

Building a research infrastructure to increase knowledge and understanding of the human brain

Human Brain Project (HBP) is a 10-year research initiative aspiring to empower scientific and industrial researchers by developing infrastructure for the advancement of neuroscience, medicine, and computing. It is one of the first two Future and Emerging Technology (FET) Flagships launched in 2013. FET Flagships are the largest and most highly funded projects with an estimated cost of about 1 billion euros.

The HBP consortium consists of about 500 scientists from over 130 research institutions, teaching hospitals, and universities across the European Union. Originally founded and initiated by Neuroscientist Henry Markram, HBP is currently led by The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Directorate (DIR).

The HBP infrastructure has six core Information and Communications Technology (ICT-based) platforms:

  • Neuroinformatics: shared access to brain data analysis.
  • Brain simulation: using computer models to replicate brain architecture and activities.
  • High Performance Analytics and Computing: develop and provide supercomputing, storage, visualization, and simulation technology that can run on supercomputers.
  • Medical Informatics: provide a global open-source platform for hospitals and research centers to share medical data, while strictly preserving patients’ confidentiality.
  • Neuromorphic Computing: developing brain-inspired computing and networks.
  • Neurorobotics: using robots to test brain simulations.

HBP – one of the largest scientific projects ever

The project aims to connect neuroscientists and computer and robotics experts in order to build an ICT-based research infrastructure for brain research, cognitive neuroscience, and brain-inspired computing. The objective is for researchers to use these HBP ICT facilities to:

  • Increase knowledge and understanding of the human brain through modelling and simulation by using computers and robots.
  • Further and develop new and specific patient treatments and diagnosis.
  • Develop new approaches to computing, such as neuromorphic systems for AI and robotics.

The main structure of the project is broken into three categories:

  • Subprojects: These 12 subprojects will extend across the development of the six ICT-based Platforms collecting data, engaging in cognitive and theoretical neuroscience, ensuring ethics, and providing administrative services.
  • CoDesign Projects: These multi-disciplinary projects are led by senior scientists from the HBP with the goal of fostering collaboration, data gathering and simulation between HBP platforms, across the subprojects.
  • Partnering Projects: These projects wish to contribute to HBP’s strategic research roadmap and have their own funding at the regional, national, or transnational level.

During the 3-year proposal phase, HBP utilized EMDESK’s development services to successfully address the challenges they faced with their proposal.

The greatest challenge was managing the vast amount of users and data for the proposed HBP consortium. Consolidating and entering data requires a secure, reliable, and flexible platform that can provide budget accuracy.

“The EMDESK team met our individual requirements quickly and professionally. With budget and administrative data to be consolidated for more than 80 partners, this was quite an achievement. I believe that such a big proposal could not have been prepared without the help of EMDESK. We plan to increase our use EMDESK as our project management tool,” said Dr. Christian Fauteux.

EMDESK knows that the secret to successful collaboration is listening to the needs of its users and creating customized software solutions to satisfy their requirements. This strategy allowed EMDESK to prepare the platform prior to the kick-off of the official HBP project. EMDESK was able to fast-track HBP’s submission, allowing HBP to successfully meet the deadline for their complex research proposal.

Since 2013 HBP has a contract with EMDESK, which is likely to be renewed in April 2022. This agreement includes yearly development packages that permit further customization of the product on demand, without any further administrative burdens.

In addition to providing a flexible and robust project management platform for HBP’s daily work, collaboration, and reporting, EMDESK also delivers seamless customer relations and development, as well as technical support.

Central, integrated project and work management platform for HBP


  • Finding an efficient manner for 80+ partners to collaborate.
  • Meeting tight schedule deadlines in the project proposal submission period while keeping up with the daily submission of reports.
  • Creating a feasible workflow for ongoing progress in an accurate and consistent manner to ensure better financial reporting and data consolidation.
  • Reducing the high level of administrative efforts caused by inconsistencies from running numerous platforms.
  • Finding a secure and confidential working environment.


  • Provide a quick, customized solution that allows for joint preparation and commencement of the project.
  • Create a customized tool based on the ideas of the HBP team.
  • Deliver and install a fully customized on-site solution.
  • Integration with central account management (OpenID Connect).
  • Specification and implementation of a granular group based permission system to ensure security.


  • Installation of a central, integrated project and work management platform.
  • Improved efficiency and time savings for users across all project partners.
  • Accurate and improved process control and reporting ⎼ leading to timely submissions and higher data acceptance rates.
  • Optimized IT infrastructure to safeguard the achievement of project objectives.
  • Extension of the contract until the end of the project as the result of HBP’s satisfaction with EMDESK’s quality of service.

Facts and performance

  • Coordinator: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Geneva, Switzerland
  • Framework Programme: FP7, H2020
  • Scheme: CP-CSA & RIA
  • Duration: 10 years
  • Structure: 12 Subprojects
  • Number of Partners: 131
  • Partnering projects: 23 + 9 coming soon
  • CoDesign Projects: 8
  • Countries: 19 countries
  • Associated Members: 9 in 7 countries, including Canada and the USA
  • Total cost: EUR 1 billion
  • Scientific publications: 1000 +
figures by mid 2019
Visit HBP’s website


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