The idea for establishing the ERC first came out of widespread discussions between European scientists, scholars and research umbrella organisations at a time when no clear European mechanism to support basic research on a broad front existed. Yet to address this problem, Europe had to recognise the requirement for change and establish the necessary institutional structures for achieving it.
In February, the European Research Council marked 5 years of funding to over 2,500 top researchers. To celebrate this milestone, the ERC organised an event with first-class scientist and high-level personalities from around the world. Press Release
At the ESOF conference in July, an agreement was concluded with the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to provides opportunities for early-career NSF researchers in the US to join the teams of ERC grantees in Europe. It was the first of its kind. Press Release
For the second time ever, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to an European Research Council grantee; Professor Serge Haroche (France). The prize was awarded for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems". Press Release
In 2011, the European Commission appointed seven new members of the Scientific Council, the governing body of the ERC. Press Release
The ERC also introduced two additional funding initiatives in 2011, the top-up grant “Proof of Concept” targeted at ERC grant holders to fund the gap between their research and the earliest stage of a marketable innovation, and the "ERC Synergy grant" launched on a pilot basis for exceptional proposals by a few small size groups of researchers working together.
In April, Professors Carl-Henrik Heldin and Pavel Exner were elected as new ERC Vice Presidents. Press release
A task force set up by the European Commission also made a series of recommendations in July 2011 and recommended an enhanced role for the President of the ERC and the Director of the ERC's Executive Agency as well as other changes with the aim to reinforce the ERC's flexibility, efficiency and autonomy.Press release
On 1 September 2011, Professor Donald B. Dingwell took office as the new Secretary General of the ERC. Press release
The ERC president founder and chairman, Fotis Kafatos, decided to step down from his function while still being member of the Scientific Council. One month later, the ERC Scientific Council unanimously elected Prof. Helga Nowotny, an eminent Austrian social scientist, as the new ERC President and chair of the Scientific Council. Press Release
In June, the ERC celebrated the 1000th top researcher funded. Press Release
The end of the same year, the ERC is praised in the FP7 mid-term reports. Despite being a new and untried instrument, the European Research Council has succeeded in attracting and funding world-class research and is playing an important role in anchoring research talent. Press Release
The ERC Executive Agency reached administrative autonomy with 200 staff members. Press Release
The ERC receives over 2000 proposals for the first Advanced Grants call. Press Release
The European Research Council was officially launched at an inaugural conference in Berlin hosted by the German EU Presidency and organised jointly by the German Research Foundation DFG and the European Commission. Researchers and stakeholders from over 30 countries were attending the ERC launch to celebrate its establishment and discuss its strategic and programmatic objectives.
The very first proposal focused on ERC Starting grants received a massive response; 9167 applications have been submitted. This massive response clearly underlines the huge expectations in the ERC by Europe's new generation of research leaders. Press Release
The European Council gave the seal of approval to the ERC and its seven-year € 7.5 billion budget. Press Release
Within two years, the ERCEG's recommendations won significant support from both the political and scientific communities, which culminated in 2005 with the European Commission proposing the establishment and operation of an autonomous ERC through the 'Ideas Programme' of the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013).
Following a consultation with representative bodies of the scientific community in Europe, 22 renowned researchers were selected as the founding members of the ERC Scientific Council. Press Release, Interim and Final Report
Shortly afterwards, the ERC Scientific Council met for the first time, marking a historic milestone in European research policy and a major step in the creation of the ERC.
In December, the Scientific Council announced the election of its Chairman, Prof Fotis Kafatos, and its two Vice-Chairs, Prof Helga Nowotny and Dr Daniel Estève. Press Release
A report from the ERC Expert Group (ERCEG), chaired by Professor Federico Mayor, described how the ERC might take shape.
The debate gained momentum at political level. European research ministers called on EU Member States and the European Commission to discuss the purpose and scope of a Europe-wide research council. Subsequently, an expert group (ERCEG) group was convened under the Danish EU Presidency to investigate the viability of such a structure.