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9 July 2018

In today's world troubled by misinformation and "fake news", I see it as more important than ever to engage with the public when it comes to research, showing how it functions and its value, as well as its role in society and the benefits that can be drawn from it. The ERC is interested in new ways to communicate with the general public, its stakeholders and policy-makers alike. This new European Research Council online magazine is an attempt in this direction nurtured by feedback from subscribers. I hope you will enjoy reading about awe-inspiring scientists and their work, as well as developments related to the ERC, and more.

Inspiring stories to share

The ERC is fortunate to have a wealth of exciting research stories to share, many of which are real breakthroughs that can change the course of science - an often necessary step to improve people's lives and move our society forward. We should never forget that many of the most revolutionary scientific results come about when scientists are not focused on solving a particular societal problem, but simply driven by their scientific curiosity. Often serendipity is at play! Looking back at the last century, it is clear that blue sky research has triggered countless ground-breaking discoveries that have changed the world – obvious examples are penicillin, the laser and the World Wide Web – providing historical evidence that this type of science pays off.

A recent independent study at the initiative of the ERC Scientific Council re-confirmed that ERC-funded research has very positive impact on science of course, but also much more broadly. The results are uplifting: nearly 80% of the completed ERC projects that were analysed have led to a breakthrough or a major scientific advance. Doing such ex-post evaluations is in line with the Scientific Council’s sustained concern to continually assess the ERC's performance.

Looking ahead

Let me turn to the future which has a great deal in store. In the short term the new ERC Work Programme will be coming up towards the end of July, fixing the plans and calls for proposals for 2019. Do stay tuned for that!

Leading this organisation is an immense pleasure and privilege. My term ends in December 2019, and in anticipation of my leaving office Commissioner Carlos Moedas has appointed high-level search committee to find my successor. I am grateful to him for his commitment to do that early enough. This ensures continuity in the leadership of the ERC, also in the final preparatory stages for Horizon Europe, the next EU Framework Programme for R&I covering the 2021-2027 period.

The European Commission has indeed worked hard on preparing its proposal for Horizon Europe, and announced it early June. The ERC Scientific Council particularly welcomes the confirmation of the ERC as a key component in the first pillar of the new programme in a form similar to the present one and the high financial priority given to the ERC.
To learn more about this I encourage you to read the Commissioner's interview.

Have a pleasant and fruitful summer!

Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, ERC President