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ERC Conference

By invitation only

Set up by the European Union in 2007, the European Research Council (ERC) is celebrating in 2012 its fifth anniversary. These five years of successful operations, groundbreaking discoveries and new opportunities for top researchers will be commemorated in Brussels on 29 February and 1 March 2012 with an event entitled “5 Years of Excellent IDEAS”.

The overarching theme is to look at the achievements of the ERC - the first pan-European funding body supporting frontier research on the basis of excellence. The event will feature scientific projects of its grant holders. It will also be an occasion for an exchange of views with policy-makers, scientific organisations and ERC counterparts from other parts of the world.

The event will be opened by Helga Nowotny, ERC President, and by the European Commission President Barroso (by video message). It will consist of a conference and of a celebrative part:

  • the conference will be held on the afternoon of 29 February (including a round-table discussion with representatives of the NSF and of other funding agencies from other continents) and on the morning of 1st March (with scientific presentations by ERC grant holders from different scientific areas)
  • the celebrations will take place on the evening of 29 February, with the participation of high-level representatives from EU institutions, ERC founding fathers and researchers demonstrating their striking ERC projects.



Wednesday 29 February


14:15 - 15:00


15:00 - 15:30 

Opening address by Helga Nowotny, ERC President

Video message by José Manuel Barroso, European Commission President

15:30 - 15:50

The "genesis" of the ERC: Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, former ERC Secretary General, and William Cannell, Adviser to the Director General, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission

15:50 - 17:30


Round-table discussion: "Excellence and brain circulation in the global scientific landscape"

Moderator: Donald Dingwell, ERC Secretary General

  • United States: Carmen Huber, European Office Head, National Science Foundation
  • Brazil: Hernan Chaimovich, Coordinator of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers, FAPESP
  • India: Roddam Narasimha, Honorary Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research
  • South Africa: Gansen Pillay, Vice President, National Research Foundation
  • Russia: Dmitry Sidorov-Biryukov, act. dep. chairman Russian Foundation for Basic Research

17:30 - 18:00

Coffee break                                                        

17:30 - 18:00

Press point (for journalists only)

18:00 - 20:30

Evening Celebration

Evening celebrations with the participation of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Morten Østergaard, Danish Minister for Research, Innovation and Higher Education, and Amalia Sartori, Chair, ITRE Committee, European Parliament and Helga Nowotny, ERC President.

Moderation: Jack Metthey, Director, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission, and Alex Taylor, journalist.

Presentations by 5 ERC grant holders to celebrate 5 years of ERC:

  • Cathy Craig, Queen's University - Starting Grant 2007 / Psychology, Perception, Action, Ageing, Parkinson’s
  • Søren Kragh Moestrup, Aarhus University - Advanced Grant 2008 / Biochemistry
  • Marco Dorigo, Université Libre de Bruxelles - Advanced Grant 2009 / Robotics 
  • Maciej Konacki, Polish Academy of Science - Starting Grant 2010 / Astronomy, Stellar evolution and planet formation
  • Stéphanie Lacour, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - Starting Grant 2010 / Bioengineering, materials science and biotechnology

 20:30 - 22:00

Cocktail dînatoire


Thursday 1 March   


08:30 - 09:00 


09:00 - 09:10 

Introduction to the sessions by

Pablo Amor, ERC Executive Agency, Director ad int.

09:10 - 10:10 

Session 1: Physical Sciences and Engineering

Brian M. ChaseCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Starting Grant 2010 / Earth System Science

Joanna Dunkley, Oxford University - Starting Grant 2010 / Astrophysics, Cosmology

Anja Verena Mudring, Ruhr-Bochum University - Starting Grant 2007 / Chemistry, energy efficiency

Moderator: Hans-Joachim Freund, ERC Scientific Council Member

10:10 - 11:10 


Session 2: Life Sciences

Monica Bettencourt Carvalho Dias, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation - Starting Grant 2010 / Cell Biology

Howard Jacobs, University of Tampere - Advanced Grant 2008 / Molecular Biology

Eiliv Lund, University of Tromsø Advanced Grant 2008 / Epidemiology, Cancer

Moderator: Tim Hunt, ERC Scientific Council Member

11:10 - 11:40

Coffee break

11:40 - 12:40

Session 3: Social Sciences and Humanities

Christian Robert LangeUtrecht University - Starting Grant 2010 / Religion, Islam

Wolfgang Lutz, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis - Advanced Grant 2008 / Demography, Climate Change

Thorsten Quandt, University of Hohenheim - Starting Grant 2009 / Interactive Media, Online Communication

Moderator: Nicolas Canny, ERC Scientific Council Member

 12:40 - 13:15

Closing speeches

Robert-Jan Smits, Director General, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission

Helga Nowotny, ERC President


 End of conference




Press Materials

  • Press conference and interview opportunities on 29 February at 17:30 (Chaplin lobby)
  • Scientific sessions with top scientists working on e.g. climate change, epidemiology, astronomy, demography or online communication
  • Evening celebration with scientific demonstrations (+ photo and filming opportunities)