How did the ERC become a European success story acclaimed to be 'a major reputation builder' around the globe in such record-time? According to ERC President Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, interviewed by The Irish Times, the Council's success is based on its uniqueness; not only does the ERC let the scientific community design and lead the programme, but it also awards long-term funding to the most ambitious, high-risk / high-gain projects. The article also focuses on the Irish performance in ERC calls, and compares it to the UK which is known to be the most successful in terms of winning grant support from the ERC. The article ends up quoting Prof. Bourguignon: “My duty and responsibility is to make sure the success continues”.
ERC in the Press
Portuguese newspaper Público presented the profile of ERC Advanced grantee Prof. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, based at the University of Coimbra. After focusing on his childhood in Coimbra and his academic years as a young activist, the article describes his impressive career as a social sciences researcher and a winner of an ERC grant worth €2.4 million. In particular, it mentions that the ERC funding is "one of the most competitive and recognized international funding [schemes] for scientific excellence". The journalist also reports on the goals of the ALICE ERC-funded project, which sheds light on the socio-economic differences between North and South through a study of Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Mozambique and South Africa.
The Catalan TV broadcaster La Xarxa interviewed Prof. Núria Sebastian Galles, Vice-President of the ERC, for its show L'entrevista. Although Prof. Sebastian Galles was mostly asked about her research on bilingual people, she also presented the new EU Research Programme ‘Horizon 2020’ and the ERC’s main features. She emphasized the idea that excellent researchers funded by the ERC undertake high risk/ high gain projects and explained the ERC peer-review selection process, as well as the mission of the ERC Scientific Council. The danger of brain drain and the involvement of the private sector in research were amongst the other topics discussed by the Vice-President with science journalists Cristina Ribas and Judit Porta.
ERC Starting grantee Graziella Messina was interviewed by Italian Radio 24 on 8 April on the occasion of the Euraxess roadshow’s stopovers in Trieste and Milan.
Prof. Messina explains that her ERC grant, which is worth up €2.5 million, allowed her to set up a team of 9 people in her home country, to carry out research on muscular dystrophy. She added that she was recently appointed Associate Professor at the University of Milan, thanks to her prestigious ERC grant.
As national research funding is decreasing, she invites scientists to look for work opportunities all across Europe and learn and acquire new experiences abroad before they can get back to their home country.
"Innovation as a driver of economic growth will only thrive if researchers are able to pursue excellent blue skies research to underpin subsequent development work", argues Dame Athene Donald, ERC Scientific Council member, in a blog post in The Guardian. On the occasion of the Innovation Convention, an event which took place in Brussels in March, she elaborates on the meaning of 'innovation' and notices that Europe needs to support curiosity-driven, unfettered research to become more innovative.