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ERC hands out €540 mln worth in Advanced Grants

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the awarding of its Advanced Grants to 231 top researchers in Europe. Earlier this April, the ECR gave starting grants tot 65 early career researchers, in addition to the 325 early-career scientists awarded Starting Grants in September last year.

The Advanced Grants  funding, worth a total of €540 million, will give the researchers a chance to realise their most creative ideas that can have a major impact on science, society and the economy, the ERC writes.  The grants fall under the ‘Excellent Science’ pillar of the EU’s R&I programme Horizon 2020. Out of over 2,400 research proposals, 231 were rewarded with a grant. Out of 746 proposales concerning life sciences, 73 were selected.

According to Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation,  the ERC grants, funded by the EU programme Horizon 2020, give freedom to scientists to follow their best ideas and make a real difference in science and beyond. “ERC grantees’ work and accomplishments are the best way for the EU to reconnect and engage with its citizens. With those new results, I’m very proud to see that now all the 28 EU countries host ERC grants.”

Only 9,6% applicants funded

The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, regrets that with the 2016 ERC budget it was only possible to fund 9.6% of applicants. “In the coming years, let us hope that the planned growth of the ERC budget will match the wealth of talent and ideas that Europe hosts and attracts. The thorough peer review assessment for this call shows one more time that many more scientists came up with ideas of a truly ground-breaking nature worthy of support.”

The research of the new grantees covers all fields of scholarship, from developing energy-efficient cooling technology or understanding limb-regeneration to new insights into how social and business networks help companies be resilient in the face of crises.  The grantees will carry out their projects at universities and research centres in 20 countries across the European Research Area, with Germany (45 grants), United Kingdom (41), Switzerland (25) and France (23) as leading locations. In this competition, researchers of 24 different nationalities received funding, with Germans (46), Britons (37), Dutch (21) and French (18) being the most numerous.

About the ERC grants

The ERC Advanced Grants are for well-established top researchers of any nationality or age, who are scientifically independent and with a recent high-level research track-record and profile which identifies them as leaders in their respective field(s).  The host institution should be based in the European Research Area.  Funding is up to €2.5 million per grant (can exceptionally go up to €3.5 million, in case of purchase of major equipment, mobility from another continent, etc.).

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC has three core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants. Another funding scheme Synergy Grants should be re-launched in 2018.

To date, the ERC has funded some 7,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council.  The overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is more than €13 billion, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.

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