In June 2009, the ERC Scientific Council decided that the ERC needed to consider carefully its relationship with the industrial/business sector; a matter of relevance both as regards the conduct of frontier research (e.g. industrial organisations as potential host institutions for ERC-funded projects) and for the demonstration of the ERC's contribution to the European economy. It was decided to create an ERC Working Group (WG) on "Relations with industry". Since its creation, the WG, which has subsequently changed its name into WG on “Innovation and relations with industry”, has been very active in establishing good relations with industry and in the design, development, implementation and follow-up of the Proof of Concept (PoC) scheme.
The ERC is supported by industry because it understands the role of public funding to excellent fundamental research. Science is a major contributor to industrial innovation, but scientific knowledge has some characteristics which make the private sector generally under-invest in it. Its results are too unpredictable in terms of returns for private stakeholders. Public sector investment in frontier research becomes therefore very important, because the risks are certainly large but so are the rewards in socio-economical terms. The ERC supports with public funding research that can be expected to lead to innovations which, when successfully applied, can generate major socio-economic benefits for Europe.
The WG on Innovation and relations with industry investigates appropriate means to engage industrial partners in frontier research. One finding of the group is that R&D intensive companies understand and support the ERC and its role regardless of whether their own employees intend to participate in the scheme.
ERC Executive Agency secretariat: Laura Pontiggia, Unit Support to the Scientific Council